Mother’s Day Gift Giving Ideas.

mothers day 1

Our sponsors have so many awesome products that would make amazing gifts for Mother’s Day or really any other time of the year. Here is our current top five list!

gift ideas

1. Allume Ticket

We may be just a bit bias but we think an Allume ticket would make a great gift!

If you are hoping for a ticket to Allume 2015 go ahead and send your gift giver the link to purchase a ticket. We bet they will appreciate the help. Or do you already have your ticket but know a fellow mama who would love to attend? Get together with a few friends and surprise that girlfriend with a ticket. Happy, happy JOY all around!

2. Sole Hope – Sandals

These brand new sandals (pictured here) just went live on Friday and we bet they won’t last long. Made in Uganda by skilled craftsmen on the Sole Hope compound.

Featuring a leather upper, locally-sourced tire soles, and a selection of strap designs – these sandals are the perfect mix of comfort and style that give back. Our shoemakers and tailors handcrafted each and every sandal, hand-cutting and gluing each and every sole. With a variety of fabric designs and leather colors, you’re sure to find the perfect pair for your summer adventures. 100% satisfaction guarantee.
With each pair of sandals purchased you are helping Sole Hope in our mission to offer HOPE, healthier lives, and freedom from foot-related diseases through education, jobs, and medical relief.

3. Vi Bella – Necklace

vi bella

Everything Vi Bella has to offer is lovely but we are especially enjoying the Mimi Necklace made in Haiti.  The various turquoise beads are wrapped in a bib cluster for a necklace that can be worn long or double the chain for a short version.

4. Root Collective – Shoes

The Gaby Peep Toe in Sea Blue (pictured here) is so cute and ideal for summer fun!

It is made in Guatemala by Otto with handwoven cotton fabric upper made by Mayan women in rural Guatemala with genuine leather lining.

5. Multiple Blessings – Prints

declare the heavens

 

The gracious and lovely Caroline Simas from Multiple Blessings will be at Allume painting live and offering a class in mixed media art. All of her prints are amazing and we think they will make a great addition to your current home decor. Pop on over to her site and grab something for yourself and a fellow mama.

Our First Words

My son, Nathan, will be 10 months old tomorrow, and he’s just started babbling. His quiet voice, trying out sounds for the first time, is a much welcomed change from the loud screeches of the last few months, let me tell you!

My daughter’s first word was “mama”, much to my heart’s delight, so, of course, I’ve been saying “mama” over and over to my boy, in hopes that he might catch on and follow suit. No luck. This kid gives me nothing but smiles. No matter how many times I say “mama”, he just grins, goes in for an open-mouth baby kiss, and grins some more.

For daddy, however, it’s a different story entirely. Nathan LOVES his daddy. Jon enters the room and Nathan’s head snaps to attention, and then he starts clapping. Talk about a warm reception! So, what do you think my son’s first word is?

“Dada.” Obviously.

Not just his first word, mind you, his ONLY word. And now he says it all day long. While he’s eating, while he’s playing, while I’m rocking him to sleep – “dada…dada…dada…dada…” He says it to me, he says it to himself… it’s his answer to everything!

As I put Nathan in his crib for a nap this afternoon, he clasped his hands together and whispered, “dada,” right before he fell asleep. And I watched him with a melting heart while my son taught me his first lesson about the Lord.

His daddy’s name is the first thing off Nathan’s tongue in the morning. It’s the last thing he says before he goes to sleep. It’s the song that he sings all day long, the focal point of every “conversation” he carries. It’s the most natural thing – why would he say anything different? He loves his daddy.

luke6.45

I’m trying to be more mindful of this in my own life. So often, I’m guilty of chasing my own agenda as soon as my feet hit the floor, but I want to be a woman who pursues God first. I want my Father’s name to be the first thing on my lips in the morning. I want His love story to be the song I sing to my children all day long. I want to write words for you that carry His hope, that speak of His plan for your life. I want to talk with Him before I fall asleep, acknowledging that everything in my day is because of Him. I want my words to be a natural extension of our relationship, because why would I say anything different? I love my Abba, and more incredibly, He loves me.

My own agenda aside, I want to live my days as a wife, a mom, and a writer who shares the hope of salvation, every moment of the day.

The adoration that my son has for my husband serves as a reminder for me, that I have a Father who is more than worthy of my adoration. My son’s singular word reminds me that my own words need a singular focus as well.

May we all be challenged to be mindful of our words, both spoken and written, that they may reflect the glory of Christ in the everyday.

For When You Can’t Hold It Together

It had been one of those weeks where all of the things on my plate had piled up so high they’d started falling off. A few weeks before, I would have told you that things were going well, that I could handle what had come my way, and life was good.

But it only takes a few things, doesn’t it? Just a few extra, unplanned things, and suddenly my plate holds more than I can carry.

This last week we took our five-month-old son to a routine well-check, and left with orders for an ultrasound, an MRI, and a physical therapy appointment for later that afternoon. I think it’s safe to say that I dropped the plate completely.

I’m a wife, a mom, a writer. I can make my husband’s lunch, help my daughter make it to the potty on time, and respond to blog comments, all before breakfast. My days are spent caring for those I love the most, giving all of myself to serve them. When they have a need, they look to me. I try my best to balance all of my roles, and most some days, I can handle it fairly well.

I struggle there, in the tension between my own capability and dependence on the Lord. I struggle because in my quest to meet everyone’s needs, I sometimes forget that I have my own. Maybe you can relate.

Bad news from the doctor, though, that always sends me to my knees. It’s something that I know I cannot fix on my own. It’s something that reminds me that no matter all the things I do, I’m so very small, and God is so very big, and I so desperately need Him.

God is Big :: Kayse Pratt for Allume.com

I need Him, because all of those things I do on my own? I can’t do a single one without Him. I can’t be a supportive wife, I can’t be a loving mother, I can’t be an inspired writer without the divine strength of the One who made me all of those things.

I think that as the women of our homes–the ones that dictate the schedule, create the atmosphere, serve the food, & keep the peace–we can fall into the trap of thinking that everyone’s needs are met in us. That everything depends on us. But Colossians reminds us of the truth:

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17

In Him all things hold together. Not in us; in HIM!

Friends, I know what it is to feel like you’re the one holding everything together. Whether we’re talking about your business, your blog, or your home, I know what it’s like to feel like everything depends on you doing more, being more, just to make ends meet. I know what it’s like to be terrified that if you drop one thing, the rest will follow.

But I think that we all need the reminder that in the midst of all of the things we feel like we have to do, there is only one thing we are called to do. We, sisters, are daughters of the King who truly does hold everything together. And He simply asks us to first love Him with our whole hearts.

He already loves us with all of His.

So, whatever you’re dealing with today, be it health issues or home management, hand your very full plate over to the One who holds it all together. Remember that He goes before you, that everything you are able to do is because of who He is, and that He loves you more than you know.

The Life to Which You Were Called

1cor7

A week or so ago, I started my day with Jesus, expecting to read a chapter or two, and I got stuck on this single verse.

Truth be told, I’ve been stuck on it ever since.

“…let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him…”

Lately, I’ve really been struggling with trying to figure out what my assignment is supposed to be.

I’m a writer. I write blog posts and eBooks and even have a traditionally published book coming out next year. (I know. I’m still getting over the shock.)

I’m a mommy. I’m raising a toddler and carrying a baby who is supposed to make his appearance sometime in the next few weeks.

I’m a wife. I followed my husband to a new job, a new place, a new home. I’m working on making us a life here while he works to put food on our table each day.

I’m a housekeeper (not a great one, but still), a cook, a daughter, a sister, a friend. I have big dreams and little ones and honestly, I just don’t know how they all fit together.

I feel like I’ve always been told that there’s supposed to be one thing, you know? One thing that I am made to do, and if I do it, then I’ll for sure be on God’s path for my life. I’ll be living out the life He called me to.

But there’s always more than one thing for me. I don’t know that there’s ever been just one. Life is messier than that.

As I get older, and more things clamor for my attention and focus, I’m learning that the life He has assigned to me has less to do with the one thing that I am supposed to be doing, and everything to do with the One I’m walking beside.

Maybe the life He is calling me to has many parts. Wife, Mommy, Writer – they all matter. Some days, one will require more than the others. But every day, I have a Companion along the way. One who fills me with grace and strength to do the things He’s placed in front of me.

But, maybe, it’s not really about me. Not about who I am or what I do. Maybe it’s all about who He is, and what He does in and through us.

That life He has called me to? The one He has assigned for me?

It’s a life of relationship with Him, before anything else. It’s letting go of my supposed-to’s, taking His hand, and just walking forward, one step at a time.

Because at the end of the day, all I know for sure is that I’m called to walk with Him.

Just a Mother

Spiritual act of worship

You are standing in the kitchen in the same sweat pants you went to bed in, trying to figure out how to feed the kids from the nothing that is in the fridge.  Real mothers go to the grocery store, you think, but you don’t know how to fit one more thing into your day, and you can’t help but feel a little sorry for yourself that the most exciting thing you’ve done all week is run to Walmart.

It seems like such a waste.  Anybody can go to Walmart.  Anybody can change a diaper.

But within your heart burns the desire to do more for God, to use the gifts he has given you.  You can write!  And you long to build a blog that is noteworthy, post something profound, or write something that will impact people beyond just your immediate family—and then cast the whole lot at the feet of Jesus so you can hear him say, “Well done.”

But here you are, smearing peanut butter and folding laundry, diligently raising up a kingdom of priests, which most days, looks like nothing more than refereeing fights and wiping noses with a Bible verse thrown in for good measure.

It is a struggle just to put two words together on a page, in between the churning of the washing machine and the roar of the minivan.  You feel that if you could just get your act together, maybe you’d have something more for to show for your talent then an inconsistent smattering of blog posts.

This is not real writing, you think, especially when your news feed is filled with the latest blog posts and book contracts your writer friends are managing to pull off in their spare time.

Everybody, it seems, has better and brighter gifts to offer.  They’re hauling grass-fat lambs into the temple to sacrifice and you’re standing there with a gaggle of kids around your legs and a pigeon in your hands.  You feel insignificant, foolish, and offering-poor. 

Just a mother. 

Do you think God wishes you could somehow manage to be more than that?

You know he does.

But you are wrong.

He sees the selfless acts of motherhood as an act of worship, a sacrifice holy and pleasing to him.  The daily mundane that keeps you from doing anything truly impressive, is an act of worship.  Knees to the ground, head in your hands, eyes on the kids worship.

It is the worship of a heart surrendered to the will of God, the will of God that made you a mother in the first place.  It is the soft submission of a woman who could do so many things, but chooses first to pour her life into her husband and children because she knows nothing else in this life is as important.  Not blog posts.  Not book contracts.

Just motherhood. 

It doesn’t look like glorious.  But then, true worship rarely does.  The right-ness of the priority and the sacrifice it requires does not lend itself to notice.  It will not catch a publisher’s eye or help to build a prosperous writing ministry, at least, not in the little years.  In fact, it can keep you from doing anything else as well as you can.    

And like Cain, you fight against it sometimes because that kind of sacrifice doesn’t showcase your strengths.  You begin to believe that God can’t really want what he’s asked of you.  Surely, he must want something more because you want to give something more.

He doesn’t.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

a broken and contrite heart you will not despise.

Psalm 51:17

Your offering, small though it may seem, is exactly what God wants of you.  And when the needs of your family push the words aside, God notices, and he breathes in the offering and counts it as worship.

Every extra bedtime story that steals away time for writing, every sick child that keeps important thoughts from being written, every dinner that is lovingly served to picky eaters when you could be doing things to build your name—all of it is known and accepted by Him just as if you had loaded up the altar with twenty-five best-sellers all dedicated to Jesus.

With what shall I come to the LORD

And bow myself before the God on high?

Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings,

With yearly calves?

Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams,

In ten thousand rivers of oil?

He has told you, O man, what is good,

And what does the LORD require of you

But to do justice, and to love mercy,

And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:6-7a, 8

When all you have to offer God is the daily task of working at home and humbly raising the children God has given you, know it is an offering pleasing to God.  Even when blog posts don’t get written and you postpone that book proposal yet again and all you are all day is just a mother, know this: he is more than satisfied with the offering. 

He is delighted.  

To Grapple with the Mystery

 

Isaiah 55:8

She was far enough along to know it was a boy.  The softening of her figure and the growing roundness of her belly made her look more like a girl than a woman who had endured the slow passing of a childless womanhood.

They named him, this little Isaac-baby, conceived after she had stopped hoping, years after she had realized that motherhood would be the thing that separated her from all the other married women she knew.   Motherhood, she had come to realize, was something she would never have.

But then, there was a strange illness and a doctor’s appointment and the most marvelous, incomprehensible news of all—after all this time, a baby was growing inside her barren womb. 

Her father—Grandpa!—could not hold back the grin.  The proud Italian immigrant called the baby Primo, meaning “The First.”

It was this grandpa who called to tell me that the doctors had seen something.   There was a problem with the baby’s heart, they thought, and he wanted us to pray.

But we didn’t get very long to pray.  A second call told me it was too late.  The baby had died.

This father’s voice broke on the phone because he was going to have to take his grown-up baby girl in to the hospital to labor and deliver a baby that would not cry or kick or nuzzle to her breast.  He would be born, this miracle baby, and she would hold him and memorize his face and marvel at his fingers and kiss his toes just like any mother would, but then the nurses would come and softly ask her if she was ready, and they would take her baby forever away.

I wept.  I wept for the little baby and I wept for my friend.  I wept because I didn’t understand.  This was not how the story was supposed to go.  How could God do something like this?  How could He open a womb, make a woman into a mother, and then take it all back except the part of her heart that could never be put back

“It would have been better if…,” I cried.

But I couldn’t finish that thought because to finish the thought would be to say something that wasn’t true.

It would not have been better if he had never been created because it is no small thing to make a woman into a mother.

So I sat in the church looking at the flowers the baby’s mother had made for her own son’s funeral, and I had no words.  Nothing I could say could make it right.  How desperately I wished God would show His hand, would reveal the sweet redemption behind this awful cross.  I wanted her to have the decency of an answer to the excruciating question of why it was okay for God to open her womb to fill heaven.

Even now, as I write the story, I long to tell you how it all came out right in the end.  But I haven’t written the story before now because there is no happy ending, not yet.  And the un-doneness of it rubs my heart raw because I want to be able to tell you how my God fixed this.

Only He hasn’t.  

My pen trembles to write the words, as if it is sacrilegious to say so, but there it is, all the same.  It is a great mystery, a question I can’t answer.  I do not understand why God did what He did.  

But the more I read of the Biblical struggles of life and death, the more I have come to believe that it’s okay to say so.  It’s okay to write in the midst of the confusion and to pen the stories that don’t tie up neatly in the end.  It is okay to shout, “I do not understand!” and to ask the questions that don’t seem to have answers.

Because that is life.

God is silent, sometimes, and mysterious and incomprehensible, and we write fiction if we write away all the tension that comes with that unknowing.  Some things in life are a mystery, and hurting people need to see that we get it, that we can look pain square in the face without numbing it with platitudes. 

Life can take the breath right out of you because it is terrible-hard, sometimes.  We should not pretend otherwise.  If we do, we miss the opportunity to minster to another mother who needs to know that her baby mattered.  She needs to know that his life was not without meaning and purpose on this side of eternity.  She needs to know that somewhere, another woman understands what is like to be forever changed by a person she never met.  She needs to understand that her baby is worth grieving over like a real person, because he was.

She does not need the why.

It helps enough to know that someone else has grappled with the mystery.

 

Life Lessons We Teach {and Learn}

What the daughter does, the mother did.

Jewish Proverb

5 Life Lessons Worth Teaching || Teri Lynne Underwood || Allume

Monday my daughter starts 8th grade.  Crazy! {Obviously I was very young when I had her. Ha ha!} She’s becoming the most amazing person.  She’s always been very caring and she has her daddy’s sense of humor.  She is one of my very favorite people — not just because she is my daughter but because she is so much fun.

If the past thirteen are any indication, these next five years will pass by in a flash. And I’m finding myself increasingly aware of the ways my attitudes, behaviors, habits, and words have an impact on my girl.

If that Jewish proverbs is true, my girl is going to be a reflection of what she learned from me — good and bad. And so,  as her time in our home is drawing ever closer to ending, I’ve been thinking about the most important lessons I hope she learns from me.

life lessons || Teri Lynne Underwood

  1. Love Jesus.  This one is the most important! I desperately want her to know that loving Jesus and trusting His love for her is the one thing that will never fail, never disappoint.  In a world of broken hearts, broken lives, and broken dreams, I want her to be certain of her relationship with Christ and the sure foundation she has in Him.
  2. Love others.  It’s hard loving others.  Even on the best days, it requires giving up ourselves.  I hope she sees me giving others the benefit of the doubt, extended over-the-top forgiveness, accepting help, serving, and putting others first.
  3. Live simply.  We have been blessed with a beautiful home and lots of “stuff.”  But I want my girl to know life isn’t about the stuff.  A rich beautiful life is best found in simplicity.  I hope she sees me treasure small moments and the gifts of laughter and fellowship.
  4. Long for heaven.  I hope my girl always feels the discontent of being an alien in this world.  I pray she’s never satisfied with what our culture offers but that her heart will yearn for the things of eternity.
  5. Lessen the load for others.  Far too often I allow myself to get too busy to help others.  I strangle myself with commitments and projects and obligations, leaving no margin for serving.  I’m working on this tendency, asking the Lord to cause changes in me.  I want my daughter to see me taking action to help others … serving and coming alongside them to lessen their burdens.

One of the gifts I’ve found in my girl getting older is a better understanding that time is fleeting. Long gone are the days of nap time and play dates.  But my role as her life-teacher grows in significance as her time of living in our home decreases.  I want to make the best of the few years we have left.

But these are not just lessons for me or my girl, they are lessons I hope I’m teaching all the time … in my Bible study class, as I volunteer in my community, as I speak with others, and as I write.  We are all teaching lessons, leaving an imprint on the lives of those around us — the question we need to ask ourselves is, what lessons are we teaching?

I’m off to enjoy the last weekend before school starts!

Love,

Teri Lynne

What lessons are you teaching with your life?

Seven Ways to Help Kids Memorize Scripture

The Shema ~ Deuteronomy 6:6-7

When my youngest children were four and five, I wanted them to memorize the famous “Love” passage from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. So I made a poster using a different color for each phrase

First, we focused on the red words:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast.
Then, we moved to the orange words:
It is not proud, it is not rude. It is not self-seeking.

We proceeded in this colorful fashion until my kids memorized the entire passage. We called it the “First Corinthians Game.”

One morning, while gathering laundry at the top of the stairs, I heard my son say to his big sister, “Let’s play First Corinthians!”

His sister responded with a bored voice. “No thanks.”

Undeterred, he said, “Okay. I’ll do it.”

I stopped to listen and savor the moment.

In his tender four-year-old voice, he began. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not self-seeking.”

His sister interrupted, “‘It is not rude.’ You’re supposed to say, ‘It is not rude.’”

He accidentally skipped that phrase. But he shouted back, “No! It is not self-seeking!”

She yelled again, “No! It is not rude!”

Their skirmish escalated, and my maternal moment of bliss ended. I had to march downstairs and break it up. Their words to each other were neither loving nor kind. Obviously, they missed the point.

First Corinthians 13

Later, I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony.

Sometimes we work so hard at getting it “right” that we miss the point too. Reading the Bible is about transformation, not information. It’s about imprinting God’s Word on our hearts that we might love others with the same compassion Christ has shown us.

As much as I love to study God’s Word and memorize life-giving passages, I know a mere recollection of Bible verses isn’t enough. The Truth of Scripture must burrow deep into my soul, yielding a harvest of genuine service for Him.

At the end of my days, I don’t want to be known as someone who acquired head-knowledge without heart-compassion. I want to be someone who loves the way Jesus loves. And I want to teach my children to do the same. We still practice our memory verses. But we also talk about the meaning of those verses and how we can apply them to our lives.

 

Here are seven ways to help kids memorize Scripture:

 

1. Select one longer passage instead of many short memory verses.

The short weekly memory verses from Sunday School lessons are fine, but they usually reside in a person’s short-term memory. By the following week, they’re easily forgotten when it’s time to learn a new verse. Shorter verses are also more difficult to retain because they’re not attached to something larger.

We learn by association. So when we tackle a larger segment of Scripture, one section at a time, we stay focused on the same passage for a longer period of time, which supports retention in a person’s long-term memory. The children’s ministry at my church devotes every six months to learning one passage. Last winter, it was 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. This spring and summer, the memory passage is Psalm 23.

2. Make a poster and give each section a different color.

Create line breaks to denote appropriate pauses. It’s much easier to absorb individual lines than one solid paragraph. This helps visual learners, especially when each line is assigned a specific color.

3. Create a pathway through your home and assign each line of the passage to a specific room or location in the house.

Start with the front door. When your child enters, have the first verse presented on one 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper. Let the child color the page. Then frame it. Set the framed words where they’re visually prominent. Then travel along a predetermined path — perhaps through the living, kitchen, dining area, and hallway — and end at your child’s bedside table or shelf. This helps physically active kids move through the house, associating each section of the passage with each sequential location. Each verse becomes a part of the house for the duration of the whole project. This especially helps kinesthetic learners.

4. Put the words to music.

It could be a new melody your child makes up, or it could be a tune as familiar as “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” Sing the passage together while driving in the car or walking around the block. This especially helps auditory learners.

5. Add motions to your song, or make it a cheer.

The more we engage our bodies, the more our minds have to pay attention.

6. Make a book.

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Staple a few sheets of blank white paper together. Have your child write each verse from the passage on a separate sheet. Then draw a picture on each page that tells a visual story. Read the book often and admire your child’s artwork. Your child will associate each verse with the picture he/she drew and remember the sequence of the visual presentation.

7. Take turns reciting the passage before going to bed.

Kids are famous for wanting one more glass of water or one more hug before bedtime. The presence of their parents is comforting. When my kids were little and wanted to cuddle before going to sleep, I’d lie next to them in bed, and we’d take turns practicing our memory passage. They knew the routine. It wasn’t time to chat about the day. Once they finished their turn, they’d close their eyes and fall asleep while listening to Mom quietly recite the same passage.

Kids learn by example. And memorizing Scripture is something the whole family can do together. Then it becomes a central teaching focus for several months.

What helps you memorize Scripture?

 

Writing for Him,
Denise

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Get Naked

Get Naked for Allume

I’ve been hiding, although I don’t like to admit it. I believe it is a beautiful thing to be vulnerable, to trust another with my story, to let myself be real. But at what cost?

Will she still like me?

Will she still want to be my friend after she hears what I’ve done, what I do?

My husband shared how, in a conversation with a dear friend, he learned the power and beauty of true confession–the kind of confession that is the truth, the nitty-gritty truth.  The truth that when you tell it, it stings.

True friendship, true community, means being honest. We lay sin out on the table. And Jesus, in His mercy, in His grace, picks it up and covers us with His blood.  Trying to cover ourselves through hiding, through telling half-truth confessions, but not the naked story, is not believing in what Jesus did for us.

I know how difficult–how scary and risky–it can feel to trust. But if there is an opportunity, in a safe place, to share the truth, the naked truth, with a friend, what else can you do? Might it still, possibly, despite the sting, be worth the risk?

By trying to cover ourselves, in our pride, and hiding our sin from friends, we are forgetting (and thus rejecting) how Jesus was stripped bare: First, when He was born as a man, and then, again, in His sacrifice on the cross–His taking on all our sin.

If we love Jesus, don’t we need to be naked, too?  Don’t we need to trust a little more, let Him cleanse us and abolish pride and worship of our self-image by confessing, truly confessing, to whom He brings?

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed (James 5:16).

In Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes,

Confession in the presence of another believer is the most profound kind of humiliation. It hurts, makes one feel small; it deals a terrible blow to one’s pride . . . but we cannot find the cross of Jesus if we are afraid of going to the place where Jesus can be found, to the public death of the sinner.

So this time, when I confess, I must not hide behind platitudes, generalities.

Rather than saying, “Oh, I confess I have issues with control”, I must confess: When my boys were supposed to be getting ready for football but were goofing off and running back and forth from the front porch into the living room with their cleats on, I yelled and told them they were driving me crazy and locked them out of the house.

Rather than saying, “I get angry at my kids sometimes,” I must confess that I resent chaos, loudness, the kids not listening to me, and the love I show them is often conditional. I resent the tough stuff of parenting.  I want them to listen, and I get mad when they don’t.

Rather than saying, “My husband is pushing me towards the Father and it is good, but I’m having a hard time with it”, I must confess that we argued in the kitchen and I resent that he loves me so much that he fights for my heart, wanting me to trust the Father more, surrender more, die to these sins that hurt our kids and our marriage. I can be bitter towards him because ‘yes’, I want to change, but I don’t want to do the hard work of it all.

Ouch.  

Saying these words aloud, face to face, in community–and here, friends, as I share these words with you–convicts me: Being anything but naked about my sin is not what Jesus plans for me. It is not what He plans for you.

Those who merely hate tribulation, renunciation, distress, defamation, imprisonment in their own lives, no mater how grandiosely they may otherwise speak about the cross, these people in reality hate the cross of Jesus and have not found peace with God.  But those who love the cross of Jesus Christ, those who have genuinely found peace in it, now begin to love even the tribulations in their lives, and ultimately will be able to say with scripture, ‘We also boast in our sufferings’ (Bonhoeffer, “Discipleship and the Cross,” Bread and Wine).

I must go where I don’t want to go. I must be real, my heart stripped naked, completely open before my God. And when I hide the truth of my heart to my friends but say I love community, I am a hypocrite.  I care more about my image, how my friends perceive me, than Jesus coming and releasing me from these sins of my heart.

I want breakthrough to new life.  I want to hate my sin, not hold onto it.  I want “everything to become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17) and so I must trust Him with my sin and I must confess.  And when I confess to another person, I am letting go of the pride that wants to hide the sin.  I am humbling myself before Him, saying I can’t do this on my own.  I’ve messed up.  I need you.  Please forgive me and make me new.

There is so much hope here, girls.  I try to be real with friends now, after years of speaking in generalities and hiding.  There is freedom and beauty in saying I don’t have it all together–and this is what it looks like–but my Father does.  And I trust Him. I choose Him.

In being naked, I say ‘yes’ to needing Him, and the community He brings, around me.

Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
whose sin the LORD does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD.
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin (Psalm 32:1-5)

How do you feel about this sting of confession?  What is now stirring your heart?

Also, here is a link to the sermon, “Nakedness”, by Kevin Kim. Kevin’s words helped me be willing to finally be open to leaning on community and trusting them with the stuff that is happening in my heart right now. I would love to know what you think.

How to Be “Involved” In Ways That Really Matter

momdaughter2

Have you ever heard this saying by Theodore Roosevelt: “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care”? Caring takes involvement. Caring takes being present.

We are involved in a lot of things today, but how much time do we take to be involved with people . . . really involved?

How many minutes did you spend on Facebook or email yesterday, compared to having a face-to-face conversation? It’s easy to send out 140-character tweets. It’s harder to really listen and cry with a friend.

Caring for God—loving Him—takes involvement too. It’s easy to listen to Christian music about God, to talk about God, or even to write about God’s goodness without allowing Him to fill us and impact every part of our lives. God is waiting for us to come to Him and be still before Him, yet instead we dance around the outskirts of the relationship, trying to make Him notice us.

Is this you? Sometimes it’s me. If so, we need to remember that we’re not fooling anyone. People know (our kids especially) when we’re really tuned in. Jesus knows what’s needed in our hearts.

“Jesus had a way of helping people see the condition of their hearts,” says Henry Blackaby. “He said, ‘These people draw hear to Me with their mouths, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from me’ (Matt. 15:8) . . . If you want to know if you are responding to God with your head or your heart, look to see what is coming out of your life.”

What is coming out of the relationships in your life: deep connections or surface friendships? What’s coming out of your relationship with God?

Are you ever disappointed with God’s involvement in your life? Does God seem far away during the week when you are trying to make decisions or when you are faced with some kind of difficulty? When we draw close to Him during every day moments, then we’ll have a strong relationship that we can lean on during the hard times.

  • Involvement means caring.
  • Involvement means being present.
  • Involvement means face-to-face conversations.
  • Involvement means being real.
  • Involvement means opening our heart to God and allowing Him to show us what’s inside.

Your kids, your husband, your friends, and God are all waiting for you to connect with them today. Take five minutes and list out three ways you can do just that.

  1. I can be involved with my spouse by . . .
  2. I can be involved with my kids by . . .
  3. I can be involved with God by . . .

Not only will they be impact, your life and heart will forever be changed, too.

Let Them See You Write

allumewriting2

As mothers, it is so important to share with our children our dreams, passions, and talents. If you sing in the church choir, are part of a softball league, or lead storytime at the local library, would you take your children with you? Of course you would! So why is writing any different? So often we feel guilty for pulling out our laptops in front of our kids. Let’s change the reason why–show them what you are putting out for the world to see in black and white. Make your words real for them. Here are a few great reasons why:

1. It carries on a legacy.

When I was a little girl, I stayed at my grandfather’s feet as he pounded out his heart on that old word processor amidst the soft anthems of show tunes and classical music. He would bring out family, honest faith, and any and all things Southern onto those crisp pieces of paper. When he would complete his latest work, we would glide down the hill to the newspaper office to submit his weekly column to our hometown newspaper, the LaFollette Press. People would see him out and about and approach him like he was a celebrity. Why? He was just a small town man. But his words meant something to someone. And sometimes words are all we have. Now, thanks to his legacy, those passions instilled in me at such a young age are coming to fruition. I now write a column for the same paper. And when the children and I drive down that same, familiar road to pick up our copy on Thursdays, they beg me to read it to them before we ever leave the parking lot.

You are your family’s historian! May we continue to tell the tales that bind hearts and encourage souls.

2. It inspires greatness. 

A few weeks ago, the children and I set up a lemonade stand to help the victims of tornadoes in Oklahoma through our “50 State Prayer Project”.  Once we returned from our sales and I sat down to share our story, I invited our oldest child to sit with me and shared with her my blog for the first time. I explained to her the heart behind it, how the Lord fuels the words, and how it is named after her. A few hours later, I found her writing feverishly on 3×5 index cards. When I inquired of her latest project, she explained that she was “working on her website, and it is all about pictures, art, and keeping your house clean”. She wants to inspire greatness in others, even with crayons and paper. We have also been journaling back and forth, where I will ask a simple question in her journal at night, leave the journal in front of her bedroom door, and she responds in the morning with her “answer”. These are dreams we are recording on a daily basis!

May we all have record of where we are going and where we are from. Sharing our hearts can be the greatest of gifts.

edencomp

3. It is a cure for writer’s block.

I went through a period of time earlier this year when I struggled with writer’s block terribly. I felt my column submissions were dry and boring at best, and my blog was less than inspiring. In a moment of desperation, I asked my children one morning (after five cups of coffee and several handfuls of chocolate chips..) what people would love to read about in the paper that week. They gave me enough ideas for the next three weeks of columns. It has become so commonplace for me to ask now that a few weeks ago, when we were heading for the splash park, my son declared that he was wearing a “naked shirt” when he was shirtless. We all laughed and my daughter said, “Mommy? You should write about that!” What was next week’s column about? Yes. THE NAKED SHIRT. Not sure how those old men at Hardee’s enjoyed that particular article, but it was a great idea from my five year old, so I went with it.

Children see the world differently than we do. Explore their thoughts; they may have something in mind we would have completely missed if we had failed to ask!

Friend, you are a WRITER. This is a big deal! Who are we without words to explain our very being? And sharing these words with the next generation instills in their hearts and minds what you love doing most and reminds us of the past and allows us to smile at the future. Your life, your family; we all have something to share.  Gather around, kids. We have a story to write.

5 Mom Tips for Leaving on a Trip

plane pic 2

This is my first year to attend an additional conference besides Allume. In two days I will hop on a plane and fly across the country to join in community, experience incredible speakers and teachers, stay up way too late (since I am bunking with Logan), and walk away with more knowledge than I can even imagine.

I AM EXCITED!!!

But, I have also learned from going to Allume that preparing my family for “mommy being gone” is valuable. Here are my top 5 tips as you prepare for any time away

1. Decide What You Need.

How are you going to communicate with your family while you are away?

Personally, I prefer not to talk to my kids while I am away. I get emotional and miss them too much so it is just easier for me and them if we say “good-bye” when I leave and “hello” when I get back rather than feeling like a yo-yo. But I know many mamas want to say “good morning” and “good night” while they are away.

If that is valuable for you, then I recommend looking at the conference schedule ahead of time and making plans for when you will talk. There is nothing worse than disappointing your kids by not calling when you said you would plus you also don’t want your phone to be ringing in the middle of a riveting session you have been waiting for all year.

I would also encourage getting an external battery for your phone. Between taking notes, taking pictures, updating Twitter and Facebook, your phone juice goes fast. Having an external battery can help you out so your phone doesn’t poop out in the midst of talking with your family.

2. Plan Ahead.

Allume may not be till October but I would encourage you start making plans now for your kids while you are gone.

  • Create sample schedules. What does a typical day look like? What do they enjoy doing? What would be a special to them? What helps if they are having a melt down? What is the pre bedtime ritual?

What comes natural to you will need to be learned by those caring for your kids.

  • Print out some ideas for fun adventures. Are there unique things happening in your town the weekend of Allume? Could the kids go on a” Fall things” scavenger hunt? What about leaving an envelope of money for everyone to go buy a pumpkin to carve or paint?

Special things can help distract kids who are missing mom by day two.

  • Put clothes for each day in a labeled baggie.

When I am gone, I bag up my kids clothes for each day in a baggies labeled “Thursday”, “Friday”, “Saturday”, and “Sunday”. It may not be necessary but can be helpful and one less thing for others to think about.

  • Create a favorite foods list.

Leave behind a suggested meals and snacks list and make it a goal to have your fridge and pantry stocked before leaving.

4. Create Memory Makers.

While I am away I leave behind a “mail box” for each child and my husband. In it there are short love notes, things that I admire in them, words of encouragement, and prayers. They can read one a day or they could read them all every day. The choice is theirs. I also leave behind a treasure box of $1.00 goodies and every day I am gone the kids can pick one at the end of the night. The day I come home there is a “bigger” gift to open.

Honestly, I build up so much excitement while I am gone I think my kids probably think it is fun when I take a few days away.

The notes are something I place in an envelope with the date on it and stick them their baby book when I get home. Lasting memory makers!

5. Enjoy.

I know there are moms who wrestle with guilt while they are away. But I am a firm believer in following Christ’s example of taking time for self.

Refilling and refreshing my tank makes me a better wife and mom when I get home.

I relish everything about the time from the alone time on the plane, buying gossipy magazines, the layover time, eating meals without needing to get up 12 times to get something for someone, and getting ready slowly or at least in my time are all joys I find. But most of all I simply soak in the ability to hear God in the stillness and the change of scenery. I know and trust He is present always but I am never disappointed in how He shows up in special ways when I will take time to honor the act of creativity and rest.

My prayer is that each of you will find joy in Christ and your family while you are at Allume this year. How about you? Any tips and tricks to being gone? Anything you are most anxious about?

For When Being a Mom is Just Hard

Being a mom is just hard.

Having a newborn who sleeps during the day and wants to stay awake at night is hard. Having a toddler who is into everything is hard. Having a preschooler who doesn’t care that it was supposed to only be the “terrible two’s” is hard. Dealing with fighting elementary age kids is hard. Having preteens and teens with major hormone changes is hard…

We all fit in there somewhere and, no matter how good at being a mom you are, it is hard.

This isn’t about wallowing in pity for yourself or not being grateful for what you have but rather being okay with admitting that your job is challenging. Being a mom takes work day in and day out and it’s hard work.

But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you are doing it wrong.

It can feel like your world is falling apart one moment when you’re tired and the laundry is piled high and the kids are running circles around you with boys being boys (all rough and tough) and girls being girls (all “watch me mommy.”). Or how about when your daughter hits your son (for the fourth time)? Or your teen gives in to peer pressure? Or your toddler peed on the floor (again!)? Or your baby just won’t stop crying?

They feel like failure moments don’t they? They rise up and dump on you with waves of failure.

But in the midst of all this hard stuff you are learning. You are growing. Your kids are learning and their little hearts are on display for you to see.

These aren’t failure moments. They are just the hard moments that need the good mom in you to rise up and meet them.

You are a good mom and you are anointed for the task of mothering. The calling, the anointing, is for the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. It’s okay that it’s hard. It’s okay that you don’t have all the answers. It’s okay that there are moments when you feel like you have messed it all up.

You haven’t.

These are the moments, these desperate moments, when we need to hide. Not under a rock but under the shadow of the Almighty. Hide yourself under His wings and let Him have all of the hard of your day.

God takes hard, difficult, and trying and trades them for wisdom to know how to rise up and meet them. He takes weakness and turns it to strength. He shines a light on the hearts of our children in hopes that we will run to Him for the answers, for the strength, for the tools to carry on.

So, take a deep breath and don’t listen to the lies of failure when this mothering job is hard. Just run to your great God and listen for His “I’ve got you girl.” He knows it’s hard and He’ll supply you with grace, peace, strength, wisdom, joy and rest.

What’s the most difficult mothering challenge you are facing these days?  How can we pray for you as you seek strength for the journey?

 

Is This a Picture I Really Want People to See?

ThisisWhatYouDoI had been huddled under a small umbrella for the better part of an hour as the rain poured down. I was soaked and shivering. The kids, on the other hand, were giddy.

We always like to claim one day during the summer when the kids can swim in the neighborhood pool while it’s raining. I have to agree that it’s something of a spectacular experience. There’s just something about sharing smiles and exhilarated shoulder shrugs as you go for one more dive into your pool-turned-stormy sea. That is, until the lifeguards blow their whistles and declare your playground too dangerous and then you huddle under a too-small umbrella, wrapped in wet towels with your mom. Game over.

Then finally. Finally the rain eased up and a sliver of sun peeked out. I saw our chance. We had a hill to climb, bodies to dry, lunch to make, a movie to watch.

We quickly threw everything into the wagon and set off, hoping to make it home before the heavens opened again. My oldest son took off (why wait when you have long legs?) and the middle one and I walked along, pulling the little one. Slowly, slowly.

That’s when she called out to me.

My friend had taken shelter under the pavilion, several stories above me. She called down to me, holding her phone in her hand.

“Let me get a picture of you!” she called.

Oh, well, I stammered. I just got caught in that rain, you know. My hair. Oh, my hair.

She smiled (a mom of three boys herself) and clicked the picture despite my stammering. I dreaded seeing it, actually, because I felt like a drowned rat and who in the world would want to remember that?

Then she sent me the picture.

I looked it over and thought, well, it’s not that bad. I thanked her for sending it because it was nice of her to capture us that day despite the circumstances. Not a picture I’d necessarily put out there, of course, but still. It told a story of our day in the rain, that’s for sure.

That’s when she e-mailed me these words:

“I just don’t think moms are captured enough in their day-to-day memories of what they do. This is what you do every day and it’s so sweet.”

Oh, my.

That picture. It is what I do everyday.

I fill wagons and fold towels and give opportunities to swim in the rain. I am a grin watcher, a hair dryer, a shoulder hugger and stuff lugger. I walk miles back and forth from here to there and back again–often times feeling like it’s uphill both ways.

I brave cold water and bad hair and dark circles under my eyes. I’m an independence giver, a hand holder, a hurry-upper and a movie watcher. I’m a lunch maker, a forehead kisser, a negotiator.

I’m an anchor and a pusher, a cheerleader and a task giver. I squeeze boys (at least those who will wait) into pictures and smile because despite the chaos, I love the exact spot on this earth that my feet are inhabiting. Holy ground. All of this.

This is what we do–us moms. Every day. It can be messy, alright, but it’s beautiful.

My friend of three boys? She knew enough to capture the moment. My beautiful, wet-haired, soaked-to-the-bone, random Monday, perfect-in-its-imperfect moment.

“This is how I always think of you,” she said. Wise woman, she is.

I think it would do my heart good to think of myself this way as well.

 

What would your beautiful, messy, perfectly imperfect mama moment look like today?

100_3028Katie Kenny Phillips lives in Atlanta with her husband, Jeff, and their three hilarious boys (Bigs, Middles and Littles). Their home is made up of two parts Legos, one part dirt/sticks/rocks/acorns and all parts “whose underwear is this and why is it in the middle of the family room?” She and her husband just started an orphan/foster care ministry at their church and are excited to become foster parents themselves this month.

Katie writes at Operation: Leap of Faith and is a proud contributor over at Next Level Mama and at The Forgotten Blog, sharing her family’s journey into foster care. You can also find her on Twitter @opleapoffaith

here’s one way we affect the world

 
My middle boy has tested my sanity lately. Sweet thing. He’s completely precious and tender-hearted. He can take anything apart and (almost) put it back together. He hurts when people hurt. And he prays to Jesus. But, like all of us, he has weaknesses. And his weaknesses colliding with my weaknesses have made for some ug-lay moments.

One of our biggest struggles as of late is with our words (his and mine), specifically when anger or frustration arise. My favorite was when he said I was meaner than satan. Nice. I followed with an equally winning comment, “Oh, I can show you mean if that’s what you want.” Not my grandest moment.

But this struggle with words has challenged me to think about the power of words. Because whoever coined that ridiculous statement about “sticks and stones” must have been smokin’ somethin’ because words absolutely affect us.

 

Words are power.

 

Words can humiliate and degrade. They can evoke fear and shame. They can make people run away or hide for cover. But. They can also pour life into another’s soul.

Words can squash fear and make us feel like we could fly. They can empower us to take the next step in a dark valley. They can minister grace and mercy when judgment seems more logical. They can encourage and bless, lift and even transform our today. Words are power.

 

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits.
Proverbs 18:21

 

Then there’s us in our areas of cyberspace that we call our writing home.

Those words we type onto the page can change the people on the other side of the screen. Our words can cause chains of religiosity to fall off. They can stir hope in places of utter hopelessness. They can serve up grace to those who feel like outcasts. They can show Jesus to someone who may have never looked into His face.

Oh yes. You and I — we can affect the world, beginning within the four walls of our homes and then spreading across time zones and continents.

Words are power — for better or for worse.

 

Father, put a guard on my mouth today. Use me to pour out life on those around me with words that are grounded in Your truth. And then thank You, thank You for Your grace when I fail.

 

Running this faith race beside you,
Lara

 
Tell of a time when you experienced the power of words — for better or worse.
 

Six Stories Every Mom Should Tell

Six Stories Every Mom Should Tell
I take my seat on the top row of metal bleachers and peer across the football field.

The high school band plays the familiar “Pomp and Circumstance” as the graduates begin their procession. They’re wearing identical caps and gowns, so I strain to find the one I’m here for. The one who made me a mom, eighteen years ago. The one I stayed home with. Every day. Year after year. The one I taught to read. The one I taught to swim. The one I drove to piano lessons and theater rehearsals and youth group.

The one who is about to leave for college. In another state.

On the field below, I notice the way the breeze pulls the green and white balloons in one direction. And that’s how I feel as a mom. Every instinct inside me wants to pull in one direction. I want to preserve each moment and resist this onward march toward the future.

Yet, I also want to embrace this new season the way an artist enjoys a new palette of colors to paint with.

It’s with this curious mixture of joy-for-the-future and nostalgia-for-the-past that I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately. And from this mom-heart-place of looking back and looking ahead, I’ve realized six of the most important stories I want my children to know.

They’re stories that happened when my kids were either too young to remember or perhaps not yet born. They’re stories I’ve taken for granted and assumed my kids already knew. They’re six stories every mom should tell.

 

Six Stories Every Mom Should Tell

 

1. Tell the Story of Their Birth

For Mother’s Day last month, I wrote the birth story of my oldest child. When my daughter read it, she commented on the parts she had never heard before. Her words surprised me. I assumed she knew all those details. So we shared a long chat over herbal mint tea as I told her more about the day she was born.

If you’ve adopted children, tell the story of how God brought them into your lives. Nothing in all creation is more beautiful than an adoption story, for it echoes God’s heart and the way He has adopted us as His children (Ephesians 1:4-5).

2. Tell the Story of How You Picked Their Name

What process did you go through when you chose your child’s name? Did you pick a name that carries part of your family’s history? Did you select a name that reflects a truth or a person in Scripture?

3. Tell a Story that Reflects Their Strengths

From the moment a child is born, parents observe certain characteristics in their kids. In Hebrews 11:23, it says that “Moses’ parents hid him [from Pharoah] for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child.”

What stories can you recall — of your children when they were young — that clearly point to their strengths?

4. Tell the Story of How You Met Jesus

Of all the stories we could tell, this is the most important one. After reading Bible stories together, let’s also tell the story of how we met Jesus. Let’s talk about the way Jesus continues to transform us into His image a little more every day.

5. Tell the Story of How You Met Their Dad

As husband and wife, we live our story every day. We know the events that brought us together. But our kids need to hear this story too. One of the ways we can honor our spouses and express unity as a couple is to celebrate with our kids the story of how we came together.

I understand that not every story comes straight out of a Disney storybook. Many of us have experienced the pain of broken stories. But when we surrender our brokenness to Christ, our lives become stories of redemption and hope.

6. Tell the Story of Your Dreams

When our children are young, it’s hard for them to imagine that we actually once lived before they were born. It’s like the teacher who meets one of her students in the grocery store. The student is surprised to discover that her teacher exists outside the classroom. In the same way, our children might be surprised to learn that we once dreamed of being an astronaut or a veterinarian. Share some of your dreams with your kids — dreams both past and present.

Embracing Each New Season

At the end of the graduation ceremony, the seniors move their tassels from the right side of their caps to the left in a symbolic gesture of completion. If I had a tassel of my own, I’d need to move it too. Because in a way, I’ve also graduated . . . into a new season of motherhood.

I watch as my daughter and her friends toss their white caps into the air, and I breathe another prayer, placing these past eighteen years into the Hands of Him who loves her even more than I do. Then I recall each story I’ve told her, knowing she takes these stories with her, everywhere she goes.

Have you told these stories to your kids?

Have you written any of them down?

TWEET THIS:

Our kids take every story we’ve told them, everywhere they go. <Tweet this!>

I want to embrace this new season the way an artist enjoys a new palette of colors to paint with. <Tweet this!>

 

The Way to Spend a Life

My grandpa is an amazing man.

God has used my grandpa to share about Jesus and teach the Bible to people across the globe. Speaking, teaching, writing, and leading, his influence for the Kingdom has been far-reaching, around the world and here in the States. Many of today’s Christian leaders regard Grandpa as mentor and friend.

Dr. Sweeting  in Mountains

It seems contrary, though, to list accolades here, because if any words describe Grandpa, they would include humble, honest, genuine, and kind.

Many know his voice from a simple greeting, “Hello, my friend,” not only from his radio broadcasts, but because everyone he meets, he considers a friend. Grandpa is fun and funny, with a smile that lights a room and a matching sparkle in his eye. Family means the world to him, and he loves us so. very. well.

Dr. Sweeting and family 1986

My grandpa’s legacy runs deep and it runs long, and to say that I am proud of my grandpa would be the understatement of the year. He’s one of my very closest friends, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

My grandpa is truly an amazing man.

 Dr. & Mrs. Sweeting high school

But like they say: Behind every great man is a great woman.

No one would admit faster than Grandpa: Though he has received most of the public credit, we all know that his has been a ministry partnership all throughout the years, and Grandma has been the secret strength.

Even to this day, she stands beside him, supports him, and serves alongside of him. She prays with him and for him. They laugh together and talk together and sit long every. single. day.

Dr. & Mrs. Sweeting sitting

They honor one another and sacrifice for each other. Grandma is the love of his life and together they have loved and served and sacrificed for Christ.

Here’s the thing: many people in this world might think that my grandma didn’t accomplish much in her life. After all, she hasn’t worked, at least not in the “getting a paycheck for all I do” type of way.

She didn’t climb the corporate ladder or earn many awards. Her name wasn’t etched on the front of a book. She hasn’t built a platform or become famous.

Grandma at table

Grandma might not be well-known, but to everyone who has known her? She has made a difference for eternity. She has cried with, prayed for, sat long, held close, and given away pieces of herself and glimpses of Jesus.

Dear Stay at Home Mom

Stay-at-home-Mom, do you ever wonder if what you are doing matters?
It matters.

Each dish you wash. and dry. and put away. over and over and over. Each pile of clothes, every bathroom sink and toilet and floor. Every meal and conversation and bedtime snuggle. Each interaction you have, each look you give. Everything you do, even when no one else sees? It matters.

Like my grandma, you are serving well and loving long. You are setting an example of what it means to
love patiently,
love kindly,
love humbly,
love generously,
love forgivingly,
love joyfully,
love honestly.

You are living what it means to support and believe and hope and endure.
You are loving like Jesus.

What you do matters.

Loving like Jesus

Is being a mom hard? You bet.

We are called to die to ourselves every day. Like hot wax on our sensitive, stubborn brows, selfishness is stripped away, little by little, each and every day. Our patience is stretched, our resolve tested. Our souls tired.

I know what it’s like to feel like no one sees you. But O sweet One, God does! We serve El Roi — the God who sees! And we follow Emmanuel — God who is with us.

I know you have needs today. Your heart is heavy, and you’re battling concerns and worries and irritations.
I am, too. I have been struggling with discouragement and depression and great spiritual attack.

But we can run to God together.

Let’s press in harder, hold on tighter, and believe Him for all that He has promised.

Lift up your head, dear friend. Let’s walk with power and purpose and passion and praise. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” (Romans 10:11)

Some might look at my grandma’s life and wonder if it was worth it.

My grandma may not have worked, but she works! She pours herself into our family, into each one of us, and we are better because of her.

Because of the influence of my grandma – on her husband, on her kids, on her grand and great-grandkids, on friends and family and the people she meets — millions will be introduced to Jesus. My grandma leaves a legacy of faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these has been love.

Worth it?
There is no other way to spend a life.

Therefore, my dear sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

One Day She’ll Know

There are stories that need to be told. Blog posts that God has put on my heart to share, important words about life, Scripture, encouragement, chasing dreams. But sometimes? Among the piles of laundry, making your toddler their third hotdog in two days, and trying to figure out what happens between your new 9-5 when the old normal has been striped away – those stories can seem so far away from reality, the words hard to find.

One Day She'll Know

But those normal, mundane moments – when you add them up and pour love into them? When you write the words of the day-to-day of motherhood and marriage and life? They become more. They become our legacy, our gift to our children to let them know what life was like when they were little. Words they can read later to their children, moments of childhood captured & shared, stories of love, laughter, temper tantrums and survival. My daughter? One day she’ll read the story of how desperately we prayed for her. And then, probably as a teenager, we’ll share the story of her toddler meltdowns and her hatred of the bathtub. And then, when she is a mommy and facing the same challenges, we’ll pass along the stories of midnight car rides with parents desperate for sleep and how we survived on coffee, prayer, and encouragement.

All of these moments, in themselves, will never make me a famous author with book contracts and thousands of followers. But together, they’re so much more. They’re our legacy and our testament to God’s faithfulness.

One day she’ll read about herself, but also about how God answered prayers for our marriage. How He provided in perfect timing in ways beyond our imaginations, and how He walked us each through a road of refinement so beautifully painful that we could only be shaped more like Him. One day she’ll know how God changed our lives dramatically in six short months, when we asked Him to reveal God Sized Dreams and He opened and closed all the doors to get us here. She will read how God knew our hearts, our loves, even down to small things like gifts for our favorite coffee when we could no longer afford it on one income.

And while I write the words for her, I write them for you, too. I write the stories because in some small way I hope that you feel like you can relate. I pray that something I share makes you feel less alone. We walk this road as sisters, hearts desiring to create a community of women and writers, mamas and wives, who love God and others. We can change the world, change generations with the words we write. God can use our simple stories to move mountains, to build community that extends beyond blog posts and Twitter conversations. I’ve experienced a sisterhood so strong that it walks through my front door with the Papa John’s guy, dinner sent from a friend across the country, and it makes me want to tell the story so someone else can hear that God is faithful.  So I write them for myself, to help me remember God’s provision in my life, His goodness and kindness and perfect timing. I write them for her, a legacy of words. I share them with you, my sisters.

And above all, I pray that my story never gets in the way of God’s glory.

5 Ways to Awaken Your Dreams for Motherhood

5 Ways to Awaken Your Dreams for MotherhoodDon’t we all long to be good moms?  Sometimes that is why motherhood is so hard.  If we do anything that seems like failure we loose heart and go through the motions without conviction and determination.  Nothing stifles your dreams for motherhood faster than percieved failure.

“You might as well not even try.  You just keep getting it wrong”

Ever thought anything close to that?  You used to dream of all of the great things you would do with your kids.  The list of what you would teach them was long.  Your hopes and dreams had no limits.  Your kids would go far and you would do whatever you could to get them there.

Maybe now you just make it through the day?  Perhaps you wake up and brace yourself for the day and still feel exhausted by mid afternoon?  You can barely think through the week much less to next year.

We grow weary and loose perspective {well, it’s stolen really}.  This is the battle we have entered.  It is a war for the dreams that God planted in our hearts for the children that He gave us.  Raising them up to be all they could be was His dream long before it was yours.  But, if you find yourself with your dreams crushed and broken by the overwhelming day to day, there is hope.

Here are 5 Ways to Awaken Your Dreams for Motherhood

1. Keep them in front of you

Think back to that very first day when you found out your were expecting a baby or decided to adopt. Relive the moments after your child was born.  What dreams were stirred in your heart?  What was alive and awake and fresh for you then?  What ways did you know that you wanted to reach their hearts?  Ask God to stir up the dreams you had and the ones He has for your mothering. Write those things down.

Years ago a friend of mine told me that she longed to have sons who were strong and godly men who were examples to the men in our culture.  I never forgot her declaration because it stirred my heart so much for my own son.  “Yes, I long for that for him!”  It began a thought and prayer process in me of how to get him to that point.  These are the types of things we need to remember, to write down, the keep in front of us and revisit often.  It would even be great to print these dreams out and put them in a place we will see everyday and can you imagine your kids seeing the things you are hoping and praying for them for?  It will teach them to hope and dream too.

2. Remember that the biggest battle is in your mind. Take thoughts captive

I mentioned above the failure-thoughts that we think.  Those thoughts are lies and we must take them captive.  God NEVER tells us anything that isn’t drenched in love.  He IS love and can be nothing less than all loving.  Even His correction is tender and loving.  So these failure thoughts, these “I’m so overwhelmed” thoughts need to be told the truth.  No you aren’t! You are an overcomer. Period.  You are never overwhelmed when you lay everything at the feet of Jesus.  He always overwhelms what overwhelms you.

Meditate on God’s word.  Find scripture that speaks to your circumstances and start telling those thoughts the truth.  Before long you’ll find that your mind has been renewed and transformed.  You’ll recognize those toxic thoughts more quickly and be able to crush them before they crush you.

3. Don’t grow weary in doing good

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galations 6:9

This scripture stares at me and mocks me.  Don’t grow weary?  Ha! I’ve never met a mom who didn’t grow weary. But I missed the point.  God’s Word is telling us not to grow weary in dong good.  This mothering thing is a good thing! Such a worthy investment of ourselves.  God’s word also tells us how to not grow weary. By waiting on the Lord.  IF we wait on the Lord…every day {because God’s presence is like mana, we need it afresh every day} then we “shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” {Isaiah 40:31}

4. Gain outside perspective

I’ve been a mom for over 14 years now.  It can be so hard in the middle of the every day stuff to think of anything but the routine.  So very hard.  I gave birth to 7 babies in 10 years and I get how hard it is.  But now I am past the baby stage.  My youngest is 4 and I sometimes catch myself watching a mom with a fussy newborn, seeing her frustration and desire to settle the child and I just wish I could have spoken to myself in those moments of the earliest days.  Because it’s really going to be okay.  You’ll figure out what your baby needs eventually and they will calm and snuggle into you again.  There’s no need for it to be upsetting but, in the moment, it is.  I could use this example for so many things: for potty training, for spilled milk, for crayon colored walls, for bickering siblings… Sometimes we need to get away from it all and, get outside of our situations and see them for what they really are.

To have hope for dreaming and achieving those dreams we need to be able to stop every once in a while and think about the big picture.  It’s so far outside of the moments we get caught up in.  And we will get caught up in them but when we learn to escape them every so often and take time to think about them with fresh perspective it will begin to change how we handle those things in the moment too.

5. Don’t forget to dream for yourself

Dreams beget dreams.  Rekindle your own dreams.  Let your self go there.  Trust in a good God who is a dream fulfiller and seek His will for your dreams.  Dream with Him and trust Him when He shows you things that stir your heart but scare you.

When you begin to dream in little ways it is like opening up the flood gates.  Once you open the doors to dreams they rush in from all over.  Make time to dream for yourself and soon you’ll be dreaming with and for your husband, and your kids too.

What are some of the dreams for motherhood that you need to revisit today?  Do you have any other steps that you advise we take to awaken our dreams?

Dreaming with you, Kristin of The Beautiful Deep

On Ordinary Art

I tell my son to be careful not to paint the table.

I’ve laid out plastic and my four and eight year old have the watercolors and a collection of rocks to recreate into swirling florals and all manner of messiness.

My daughter has a paint by numbers that is sectioned into tiny slivers awaiting their chosen colors, the end result being a Panda.  I’ve unleashed their brushes and their tiny fingers lead them in pirouettes across the stones and canvas.

I open my laptop next to them and stare at the cursor flashing on the blank page.

And then my son has finished his first rock, a black swirl of paint on a smooth round stone. He tells me it’s a wabbit.

My daughter is leaning close to the canvas, hand steady trying to get the paint into the designated spots. I see the Panda’s face beginning to form. She bites her lip and tilts her head to the side inspecting her work.

“Mommy, I can’t get the yellow to mix right. I think I made it look weird.” She is becoming her own worst critic.

AliaJoy Art/writing

Meanwhile my son has cranked out several more rock paintings and has graduated to paper. He holds up a painting in hot pink, a large circle with two lines sticking out the bottom.

“This is you, mommy, ” he announces proudly. Although, I do have a potato-esque shape, I don’t  see the resemblance. I move it to the counter to dry alongside the line and two dots which is my husband and the green circle which is our house.

And I think about my blank screen and my inner critic and my need to make the words just right.

I think about my children’s fingers dappled with paint.

Young children lack the skill to create with precision but what they lack in ability they more than make up in confidence. Young children still see the world with every possibility because nothing is fantastical yet. Pioneers in their journey of discovery, everything is new, therefore everything holds equal fascination and monotony.

When we pause at the painted hills, the striated rock colorations etched golden-red like tiger stripes, we all stop to take in the glory. But the young child runs along merrily, picking up rocks without discrimination of their ordinariness. He squats down to watch an ant barrel along while the valley stretches wide beside him, unnoticed.

We learn to classify the ordinary and monotonous in direct contrast to the extraordinary and magnificent.

G.K. Chesterton states, “The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese…”  Yes, cheese may not inspire sonnets, although I do have a baked brie recipe that makes me believe there is a God who loves me. What I believe Chesterton is getting at is that we find ordinary things uninspiring.  Mundane things like diaper changes and Math lessons, grocery shopping, and spreadsheets.

We forget as writers, that eventually, everything becomes monotonous to those who can no longer see the simple and ordinary graces among us.

Yes, we all want to write that post. The profound one that goes viral. Yet we often lose the pure in the pursuit of the profound.

Simplicity comes before the numbers and the lines. Before you know what the picture is supposed to look like. When you have the ability to splash in the paint tray and mix the colors.

Because the Lord sees beauty in your words when they’re full of wonder and praise. When we silence the critic and let our fingertips dance on the keys without always knowing what picture we’re painting. When we make art in a world full of ordinary, we paint in God’s glory.

Alia Joy writing at Narrow Paths to Higher Places

 

When Your Soul Needs Splinting

As a wannabe runner with a few {slow} 5k’s under my belt, I often have questions about my new hobby. When I do, I call a more experienced friend of mine. Such was the case last month when a pain in my foot persisted past the usual soreness one would expect from running for the first time in, ahem, months.

My girlfriend had experienced similar pain and her doctor said she was on her way to a stress fracture if she didn’t take it easy. Her advice to me? Wrap it and take it easy, girl. 

The wrapping is easy. It’s the taking it easy that isn’t so…easy. But it got me thinking:

I’m usually a ‘push through the stress’ kinda gal. Commitments, expectations, dreams, goals, tasks, and responsibilities pile on me until I fracture (usually in the form of a verbal explosion aimed at my *usually* innocent children). I’ve been telling myself my problem is I’m just not strong enough, and I should be able to handle the stress if I just Try Harder.

wisdom, not weakness. @trinaholden on allume.com

But maybe, just maybe, pushing through is the worst thing I can do for my soul. As I’ve stared down at my splinted foot this week, I’ve come to accept this truth: Admitting I have limits isn’t weakness–it’s wisdom. {<–Tweetable}

This month the Lord has been calling me to “Rest”. Over and over the refrain comes. He knows what I need. He knows my soul is fragile and weary. Instead of giving me a pep talk to get back out there and run harder, He’s said it’s time to rest. To not require myself to be superwoman. To splint my soul with peaceful days. To trust that the best thing for my mamma’s heart and for my days is to require less rather than more.

What does this look like for a busy mom of 3? 

  • I’ve given myself permission to embrace seasonal blogging. Our summer schedule IRL is way different than our winter schedule–my blog is going to reflect that.
  • I’m trimming my involvement in social media and unsubscribing to any and all emails that don’t seem to be getting read right now. I can always re-subscribe later, right?
  • Reducing the time I spend multitasking each day. Social media is not the only culprit–anxiety and fear of man are mental treadmills I hop on way. too. often. It’s time to get off, choosing to letting my mind rest even as I’m busy with the day’s activities.

Just a few small things…nothing earth-shattering. No relationships are being negatively affected, no dreams up in smoke. But my soul–just like my foot–is feeling a lot better from taking the advice to rest.

Have you been feeling splintered and fractured? It’s OK, girlfriend, to rest. In fact, it might be the very thing you need the most. Share in the comments one idea for how you lighten your load when the stress builds. Let’s encourage each other towards rest.

Even Superheroes Start Out Small

titusbatman

 

Dear little boy who stands in the hall

With a Batman mask and a Southern drawl.

You want to save the world, one cricket at a time

But only if you have your paci by your side.

You try to be brave, you reach and it leaps,

You trip and you fall.

It’s okay, sweet child.

For even superheroes start out small.

***

Your brother is waiting, watching cars fly by,

For the perfect moment to ask me why

“If God is a superhero, then why do bad guys win

Why do terrible things happen, why do people sin?”

What can he do, as a little boy, but close his eyes and pray

What power does he have, to keep satan away?

Long ago, life was perfect, but then there was the fall.

Even superheroes start out small.

***

Or maybe it is sister, who laces up her shoes

Who glances around nervously to see whom she will choose

To play with at the park that day, if even the chance, what will she say?

She is nervous to share God’s love with the world.

“Mommy, I am still only a little girl.

What I say can barely be heard,

From tiny whispers to ignored words”.

No, my dear. Hold your head high.

For what you say today could affect someone for life.

For it is not by our own power or might that makes us stand tall.

For even superheroes start out small.

***

Or maybe it is you, mother, I hear your cry.

You stand by the sink, rinsing sippy cups and wiping your eyes.

You are overwhelmed by life, you thought this would be easy

This calling they call motherhood, this life that should flow naturally.

But when cries from nightmares and so-called spiders keep you up half the night,

And you realize the smell of peanut butter is now your kryptonite.

You traded in your Batmobile for third row seating,

And you wish you could read minds to know exactly what your husband is thinking.

***

Mother, you are a superhero, and yes, you are starting out small.

Beginning in a role in which we have no experience at all.

For the very life and breath that children bring to our hearts,

Is where those superpowers began to start.

We grow wings to fly, we see life through a different lens,

We are able to change diapers, wipe noses, and train to count by tens.

***

When the world around you mocks the seemingly small life in which you lead,

You are training future leaders, raising a generation, showing them what they need.

For the Lord grants us power and wisdom, if only we ask,

So, I challenge you, fellow mother, take off your mask.

Show the world that what you do is divine,

That our strength comes from above, that true power we can find.

Our cape may be a faded sweatshirt,

Our weaponry a shrill, ear piercing call.

Mothers, when everything around you is about to fall,

Remember: even superheroes start out small.

norris6

 

 

 

a simple truth that can transform any relationship

 
Don’t place your trust solely in him. Or her. Or them. Because they — like you and me — are mere humans. And do you know what humans do? We fail.

 

People will fail.

 

I read Jesus’ words last week and they struck a deep chord. He had just started His earthly ministry, performing signs and wonders. And after seeing the miracles, people believed in Him.

“But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.” John 2:24-25

Do you hear what He’s saying? Yes, people put their trust in Him. I mean, He was turning water into top-shelf wine. But He didn’t put His trust in people. Why? Because He “knew all people…(and) knew what was in man.”

Never in the Bible does it say to put our trust in people. Never. Love people, yes. Forgive people, continually. Pray for people, always. But trust? Never. And it’s because people are people. We’re weak and selfish and prone to wander.

When we place our trust in people — depending on them to give us life and hope — we’ll inevitably fall to disappointment. That’s why Jesus didn’t put His trust in man. Not even His most beloved disciples. He put His trust solely in the Father.

His eyes were dead set on the will of the Father. His gaze was continually pointed to the Father. He didn’t look at humans in search of fulfillment with cheesy phrases like “you. complete. me.” No. Because He knew what was in man. And woman.

Personally, I put my hope and trust in men — eventually my husband –in search of security and meaningful love for far too long. And though God gifts us with earthly, blessed, necessary relationships, people can never completely fill us. People will fail us. Just like we’ll fail them.

So when it comes to trust, we’re supposed to put it in one place and one place alone. We put our trust in God.

 

Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the Lord.
He is like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.
Jeremiah 17:5-8

 

God is the forever faithful One. He’s the One who sees the beginning from the end and knows how to make every detail work out for the good of those who love Him. He’s the One who never ever leaves or forsakes His children. He alone is always trustworthy.

And here’s the beauty. When we put our trust in Him, rather than the people or circumstances in our physical world, it frees us to love others without expectation. It frees us to forgive and bless. Because we’re not depending on people to be our Source of life. We’re depending on the life-giver. And that, my friend, is true freedom.

 
How have you seen that passage from Jeremiah above play out in your own life? (i.e., trusting in things or people vs. trusting in God regardless)

Why Motherhood Needs Sisterhood

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Dickens’ penned these words to begin my favorite of his works, A Tale of Two Cities.  I’m finding this is an apt description of motherhood, though.  In fact, there are days when all of this is true within an hour.  {Can I get a witness?}

motherhood needs sisterhood {Teri Lynne Underwood || allume.com/blog}

Motherhood feels like a full contact sport sometimes.  This child of mine can bring me the greatest joy … but, as we’ve entered the teenage years full on, I have found myself in tears wondering how she could break my heart so easily.  One of my wise friends told me a few months ago, “Don’t take it personally.”  In my head, I know she’s right.  But, y’all, no joke, it’s hard not to take it personally when your child hurts your feelings.

Having a thirteen-year-old girl has taught me a few things.  But the biggest one is this:

Motherhood needs—demands—sisterhood.

More than ever I need women to come alongside me.

I need the 20-something woman with dreams in her heart and stars in her eyes.

She’s eager for life to get started, for that man who will sweep her off her feet, and the children who will fill her home with fun.  I need her to remind me to laugh and enjoy these days.

I need the friend who has cried into her pillow and fallen into a heap on the bathroom floor, again, when the pregnancy test is negative.

She gives me this precious gift of looking at my child and seeing her as what she really is, a gift from God {Psalm 127:3}.  And this friend, this one in the sisterhood, she also offers me the opportunity to love someone well, to reach out beyond my home and into the heart of someone else.  I need this … because it’s far too easy to get wrapped up in car pools and dance recitals and how in the world we’ll pay for college.

I need the friend with the newborn, the one whose eyes are exhausted and who can’t put sentences together.

She is the one who lets me snuggle with her baby and whisper the promises of a God who is good and faithful into his sweet ears.  I need this {really need this!} because even though my girl has a big helping of her momma’s sassiness, she’s still my baby and she still needs to hear that God is good and faithful, especially when middle school girl drama feels overwhelming.

I need those moms with little ones toddling about and learning to read.

I watch them watch their kids.  And I need them to help me remember to celebrate the successes … whether it’s potty training or making cheerleader.  I need this because there are days when all I see is a messy room.

I need those women who, like me, are wondering if there is enough hair color available to keep us looking somewhat decent through these teenage years.

These women in the sisterhood know the frustrations and fears, the way each day can go either way and you’re never really sure if the child that enters the room is going to be the happy child you thought you’d raised or this sullen stranger.  Oh I need these women … because some days I start to believe I’m all alone and I’m really not.

I need those women who have raised their kids and lived to tell about it.

The ones who say, “Cherish these days, they’ll be gone before you know it.”  The ones who remind me you never stop being a mom, your heart never stops breaking when your child hurts, and your smile never goes away when your child is happy.  I’m so thankful for that part of the sisterhood!

And I need those women who love my girl.

The teachers and the coaches, the other moms and the older girls, the grandparents and the ones who could be, the single women who pour into her and the ones who tell her she is a world changer.  I need them, all of them, because motherhood is too hard to go it alone.

I need the sisterhood.  We all do.

So Happy Mother’s Day to the whole lot of you—the ones with babies and the ones with grandbabies, the ones who dream of babies and the ones who are living the dream, the ones who are hurting and the ones who are helping.  You all make a difference and I’m a better mom because you are in my life!

Would you share in the comments how you’ve found the joy of sisterhood in mothering?

xo,

Teri Lynne 

image source

Momma, You are Called to Greatness!

Momma You are Called to Greatness

I remember telling my mom, in the the shyest of ways, that I felt like there was greatness in me. I knew that God had a calling on my life and I knew that it was significant. That greatness is in all of us who have surrendered to Jesus. His calling on each of us is a call to live with His extraordinary greatness flowing out of us.

For too long I have felt desperate, overwhelmed and have moaned about how hard mothering is. I somehow lost sight of that greatness.

I hear God calling me to wake up. I sense He’s calling us all to wake up to greatness.

Yes, being a momma IS hard but we have a choice to quit moaning and being overwhelmed and saturate ourselves in the presence of God where He calls us to greatness in our homes.

We can lead our children not only to the cross to avoid hell but to God’s face so that they are changed, and the greatness in them is stirred up. So that they hear Him and see Him and KNOW Him. So that He stirs up callings and giftings in their lives while they are but babes and they take their generation for Him because they had a mom who led them to Jesus. A mom who sacrificed her own moaning for an easier life for crying out to God with her children for change. A mom who didn’t just bandage the hurts and wounds of her children but asked God to speak to them and waited on Him with her children in effort to teach them that this is what you do when you are hurt… you run to Him.

You have greatness inside of you. Now let it out! Stir up that greatness in your children by living a life knowing who you are and the using the tools & weapons that you have.

Be overwhelmed with Jesus and not with your circumstances.

Quit fretting about all of your mistakes and how to do it ALL and simply press in, with your children, to see the heart changes you long for, to see God’s power rise up in your home and in their lives.

Pray for their friends as if your children’s lives depended on it (they do). Pray for their schools as if revival is possible (it is). Pray for healing as if it’s yours (it is). Ask for the things you need and watch God move in power and overwhelm what overwhelms you. His greatness is ready – waiting – to rise up in you and do great things.

You are the key momma. You! Yes, all the little things matter and God sees you serving. It’s true. But don’t fall asleep thinking that you can just go about your day and there isn’t an enemy out there waiting and watching for a way to devour you and yours.

Rise up, oh woman of God. Rise up mighty warrior. You are called to greatness. You are called to be a GREAT leader in your home. You are a lioness who has cubs in her care. It’s time to get tough and dirty on your knees before God and even in front of your children. They need to see how you fight. They need you to show them How God fights for them, how He sees them. Quit waiting for something magical to happen in you. You already have everything you need.

Do you feel it rising? It’s called greatness. Now let’s walk in it!

In this with you, Kristin of The Beautiful Deep

Photo source

A Modern Proverbs 31 Story

allume_stine

Hands groggily find phones and slide alarms into the snooze position to steal a few more precious minutes of sleep. Eyes bleary, feet hit a chilly floor to find coffee and solitude in the early morning hours, before toddler wakes and demands are made. Padding down the hallway to find community on the other side of the screen, women and mothers and wives and friends who travel these same early morning hours to work, plan, pray, and cheer together. Silent feet slide over and around and avoid spots known for creaking and cracking, ninja-like mama skills on display.

I meet God in the darkness, in the weary “before” time of my day. He meets me there, over cups of coffee, laptop clicking, living Word on touchscreens and the Holy Spirit alive and present in my closet office. I embrace my role as a Proverbs 31 woman:

“First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.” (Proverbs 31, MSG)

It’s a modern day version, early rising to connect on Twitter and start my day with Jesus loving accountability sisters, rolling up sleeves to work a corporate job, no hurry to call it quits for the day because the late night hours are when the joy-work happens.

Then there are days when those feet make it out of bed with just enough time to head out the door. There are days when the “to do” list grows and the dishes aren’t cleaned and the toddler won’t listen (and all she says is “no”…all…the…time…). There are days when the countdown to bedtime means mama is SO in a hurry to call it quits for the day.

And I am thankful for grace.

The  heart-work is done in the spare hours, the ones leading up to brushing teeth, finding baby doll, and waiting the eight years it takes a toddler to slide down 14 stairs when her hands are full of all. the. things. that are essential for a ten minute car ride. There is weariness in those hours, but an exhausted joy that comes from knowing that this work? The reason my sleeves are rolled up before the sun has peaked over the horizon? This is what God had in mind me for me from the very beginning. I am created for this work.

My cup runs over in the late hours, typing words that make souls stronger, planning and encouraging and writing and saying yes to my dreams. In the hours after lights are off, dinner is away, the bathtime bubbles have been stomped and little girl is snuggled asleep for the night. I’m in no hurry to call it quits for the day when I know the pouring into I receive when I pour out what God has put on my heart. The dream-work doesn’t get done during the mundane hours of 9-5. It happens in the sacrifice, the bleary, weary eyes of one who can no longer strive on her own but goes on purely by the saving grace of a Father who holds doors open just enough to let hope shine through.

And so a cup of coffee is poured as sleeves are rolled up. It’s a new day, friends. Let’s get to work.

Be More Beautiful Than A Silver Tongue

Silver Tongue - Allume(photo credit) 

Motherhood resonates beauty in this part of the writing on-line world on Mondays.  Allume living happens in your every day walk and talk, and radiates the light when we come together in our words.  The overflow.

There are not many areas of our lives that we can gloss over with a pretty coat of white wash and hope they look good for everyone to see.  In this house, if I am having a bad day, then everyone here knows it.  If I am rash, and impatient, you might not know that with the words that I pen.

When you write in many places, your pen and your words might be like a silver tongue – expressing yourself readily, clearly, effectively; “able to dazzle with a facile tongue”; “silver speech”….

It is a beautiful thing when the lessons of life and motherhood prepare you for the writing world.

Consider the Three Graces of Motherhood and Life that lead us –  to Be More Beautiful Than a Silver Tongue:

 

– Be Your Children’s Advocate

( This means they trust you enough to come to you)  How often do you read another post and don’t feel comfortable leaving a comment?  When you write, are you trustworthy to handle the hearts of others?

Although I fall weary many nights from the exhausting effects of what I call “counseling sessions” with  my children after what seems like taffy-pulls of the heart, I go to bed with peace knowing that they can see my life is an open book and a learning curve of God’s forgiveness and that my reaction to their hurts, poor choices and actions will not bring a wrath or judgement, but a trusted heart.  Listening and Grace.  My words would not be savvy or eloquent – but heart wrenching and seasoned with God’s word.

-Don’t Take “It” So Personally

(This means that the attitudes and words that hurt – are not “meant” for you)  This is hard to wrap the brain around.  How often do you receive comments on your sites and writing, that seem to sting and cause your heart to stop in its tracks?  When you write, do you seek to edify or to encourage?

One thing I have learned in my mom walk, is that there is always a “deeper issue” going on in the heart of the child that aims a hurtful comment or an attitude that seems mis-directed.  I have learned not to take everything so personally.

-Learn From The Hardest Mom Moments

( Motherhood stretches me.  Stretches me in areas I never thought I could move, bend or get past)  Writing is like that. We may feel void of words, unsure of where our writing is taking us, and sometimes, the not too comfortable places.  Our words may be hard to write, hard to live, and may never reach the paper.

The most valuable lessons in my life I have learned from the hardest moments in motherhood.  Growing me and stretching me to become a better mom ( writer), focusing on what is really important, and allowing the overflow of my hardest moments to write the words that will change and influence the hearts of my children. ( my readers).

It is my prayer to be more beautiful than a silver tongue.

How is motherhood/life preparing you to be like gold in your words and actions in the writing world?

September @ OneSeptemberDay

You are Already Enough

Tiptoh-so-carefully

Flickr Photo Credit: orangeacid

Dear Momma,
Yes, you,
there,
cooking and cleaning and caring.
You who are carrying our future in your hands and in your heart,
wiping tears, kissing cheeks,
washing hands, and bottoms, and noses

Dear Blogger,
Yes, you,
there,
behind the screen,
pecking out words in the middle of the night,
tucking away thoughts while working
and serving
and raising those Babes ...

Dear Woman,
Yes, you,
there,
fighting to find your place,
find your way,
make a difference …

Even in the busyness of this day, with lists to-do and tasks to complete,

with your mind swirling or heart pumping or emotions rising,

just for moment,

stop.

 

Just stay still for a moment and let my Momma heart, my blogger heart, my living-life-just-like-you heart whisper to yours:

Friend, you are enough. 

You’re enough.

 

I know you’re trying hard, reaching out, and some days you don’t know how you’ll make it through,

but

while living and loving and walking faith-full and faithful,

while serving behind the scenes in the unknown, secret places where no one else sees,

while chasing this dream and pursuing His call,

when you’re tired and weary and you just want to collapse —

you. are. enough.

 

Whatever you’re chasing, missing, thinking you need, you are already enough.

You are known.

You are chosen.

You are loved.

You are called.

You, sweet sister, are enough.

 

So today, stop chasing after the wind,

stop trying to be someone or make a name for yourself.

Stop trying harder.

Lean into the One who has called you.

Trust Him.
Follow Him.
Abide in Him.

He will lead you.

Be faithful where you are, and leave the results to Him.

“Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. … It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.” (Ephesians 1:7-11 MSG)

Love,

Erika

The Orphan’s Gift of Teaching Me of My Forever Home

ID-100109908

I know my writing work is important because I get emails, tweets, and Facebook notes from online readers. But God reminds me often that my ministry isn’t just online … it’s offline, too. There are seasons when the most important heart I can touch is within arm’s reach.

I open my arms and the small girl steps forward and enters my embrace. I expect her to be more hesitant, but she asks me to hold her. I cradle her thin, frail frame and peer into her blue eyes. Just five years old but her eyes are filled with stories . . . ones she’s not yet able to tell me. Maybe over time she will.

I thought of my life and became unsettled when my husband and I welcomed two foster children to join our family. I don’t think I know “unsettled.” Not really. Not like this sweet girl.

“It’s always scary going to a new home,” she confided in me just a few days after joining us. Tears fill my eyes as I hear her words, but I try not to let them show. The file the social worker gave me is three inches thick, and after reading the reports I discover our home is only one of many in recent months. Those homes were only meant to be temporary, but ours is meant to be her “forever.” Our words tell her that. When will her heart start to believe it?

She is the older one, and she cares for her younger brother still. She alerts me when he’s waking from his nap. His voice is barely a squeak as it calls for “Mama,” but she hears it.

I tell her that she can just be a kid now; I’ll watch out for her brother. That’s a concern she’ll no longer have to carry. She nods, but I can tell she’s waiting to see if she can really believe that, trust that.

Some of her emotions are hidden, and others are displayed too loudly, too vocally, too wildly. She cries over the smallest problem and then looks to me for help. I can read the question in her eyes, “Are you going to help me with this? And this? And this?” She wants to make sure. She’s has a hard time believing it’s true. Believing that I’ll be there. That I’ll care.

And even when she’s naughty I don’t get angry. Compassion seeps out. I know what she’s gone through . . . at no fault of her own. She was innocent and so many others have wounded her.

I open my arms to my new daughter. I’m eager for the courts to soon declare her mine forever. Yet even in this intermediary place she has given me a glimpse of the love of God as I’ve never known.

I understand His love for me better. I know His compassion for me more. He knows the pain I carry, too, often at no fault of my own. And when I act out, or cry out, or reach out, He—my God—wants nothing more than to open His arms of love. And He CANNOT wait for the day when I’m ushered into His forever home.

I thought we were opening our home to help the orphans, but I am the one who is helped.

I’ve never felt so weak as a mom, unsure of my words and actions. And yet I’ve also never felt so strong, for it is God’s strength that fills me. It is His love that pours through me as my brown eyes meet her blue ones and radiate one message, “Daughter, trust me. This is your forever home.”

Tricia Goyer

*Photo credit: Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Write For Your Children

Use Your Writing

Writing is such a gift. It is a gift to the writer, and it’s a gift to the reader. I love to offer up my writing to others. I enjoy being able to encourage other moms and other bloggers. I firmly believe, and I have been told, God has given me the gift of encouragement.

The one thing that I noticed, however, that I have lacked, is using this great gift right inside my own home, amongst my own family. I tend to be a better writer then speaker. I convey things better on paper (virtual or otherwise), then I do with my mouth, typically. Writing also helps me stay focused, which is why I keep a prayer journal.

But, in what ways could we use our writing to bless our children?

Prayer Journal

I have written before on how I keep a prayer journal for each child, that I try to write in each one weekly. The purpose of this is to show our children the power and glory of God in their own lives as they were growing up. Most likely, this would be a gift for them once they are older—how about a wedding gift? This would be a priceless keepsake and legacy indeed.

Letters Journal

Why not have a journal for each child that mother and child write back and forth in? Did you ever do that in high school? You know, you keep a notebook between just two or three friends that you would pass around throughout the school day, writing letters in it to each other? OK, well, maybe I’m the only strange one who did that! But it’s also a nice keep sake and a way to consistently encourage your child at the end of the day or week.

Personal Journal

Keep a personal journal on the life of your child. Now, if you have a lot of children, this would be quite a commitment of time. Obviously that’s not a bad thing! But you can certainly consider other options if you have a lot of children. But if you have one or two children, keeping a journal that records major milestones and beautiful moments in their life would be a prized gift for them as adults.

blue journal book put on desk with scarf and cup of coffee

Encouraging Cards

Leave encouraging cards for your children spontaneously, in different places. Their pajama drawer. Their lunch bag. At their place on the breakfast table so they find it in the morning. It doesn’t have to be super long, but a few encouraging words can go a long way. Get some cute, blank cards and put them to use!

Special Occasion Letters

Use special occasions like birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas to write specific letters to your children.

Write a birthday letter about how much they’ve grown over the last year, in their spiritual walk, in maturity, maybe draw out some key moments that you can touch on. On Mother’s Day you can write a letter about how happy you are to be their mother and what you have learned growing as a mom, something specific your child has taught you over the last year.

Even Father’s Day can be used to write to your child and completely brag on their daddy–what a wonderful father he is and simply talk him up as a daddy. What a gift to your children to see you loving their daddy in this way.

Be intentional about setting time aside to write for you children. You don’t need to do all of these ideas!! Start with one and branch out from there if you feel lead. But do share your writing with your children.

Our children will one day see the time we devoted our love for writing to bless them. It will be come a tradition that maybe they will pass down to their own children. It will become a memory as they grow old, how their mommy loved them through her writing. It will become a treasured keepsake.

Writing is a gift that keeps on giving. It really is. It’s one of the best ways to capture life in the moment so it is not lost. Capture pieces of your children’s childhood through your writing for them.

Joy in Christ,

Christin Slade

moments in the seasons

photo (46)

It’s unseasonably cold here in New York…or maybe it’s just that last year was unseasonably warm and I prefer it’s temperatures to the ones I’m facing now.  Morning breaks just like every other morning–too early.  About a month ago I would have chided myself over not waking earlier, not taking time to be in the Word before my children woke up, but i’m learning that life is only the sum of its seasons and each season calls for something different.  Just as He brings the change from winter to spring He is the one who melts away the cold in our hearts to make way for new fruit to grow.  Seasons.

Like I said, morning dawned early.  Before you jump to a picturesque idea of morning at my house let me fill you in on the reality.  Approximately at five AM my youngest will roll over in her crib and become conscious enough to notice that her pacifier is no longer in her mouth, yet she won’t be conscious enough to figure where exactly in the three foot by four foot space known as her crib the pacifier has gone.  I’ll blunder out of bed as fast as I can to re-plug her before she wakes up the sleeping monster known as the three year old because if she wakes up, we all wake up.  I’ll spend the next hour failing miserably at going back to sleep/keeping my mind from wandering to all the things in life that I can’t control/trying to figure out a way to control all the things I can’t control.  I’ll fall back asleep about thirteen minutes before I should wake up.

Fast forward.

All four of the children are awake and in various states of chaos.  One’s getting out of the shower, the other is wandering around telling anyone who’ll listen that she’ll “help” them.  The other one is fully dressed, but forgot to change his underwear and the crew is rounded out by the token nudist streaking through the house decrying any kind of clothing.  It’s just the normal, everyday Thursday morning and somehow the normalcy of the insanity is pushing me to my limits.  I can feel the tension rising in my shoulders as the clock ticks every second closer to the deadline for school and there’s still so much on the list to finish and for heaven’s sake their is a naked child running around screeching.

“Mom, look at the beautiful sunrise!” she exclaims.  I look up quickly.  Acknowledge the glow peeking through the frosted glass.  We’re late.  The clock is ticking.

“Okay, let’s everyone…”

“…go downstairs.”

“…eat breakfast.”

“…keep moving.”

That sentence could end any and many ways.

“…go into Zahara’s room.  We’ll see it better in there.”  In we tromp–the naked one, the half dressed one, the soaking wet one wrapped in a towel and the other one and we gaze.

All in all, it took probably three minutes.  A whole 180 seconds of our day, but it made me pause and appreciate–appreciate these four little people in their various states and stages and this house that keeps us all.  We have our moments.  This 180 seconds was one of those moments and just as quickly it deteriorated into the morning rush, but all day long I’ve held onto that moment–four littles, all crowded around a window awed by a coral sun slowly rising through the dim morning skies.

Think through the past few days…what moments are you holding onto?  What moments help you make it through the long seasons?

because the milk will probably spill

Yes. The milk will spill. And it will probably be chocolate. And it will probably spill on the floor you just mopped for the first time all month.

Not only that, the kids will run through the house with muddy boots. The dog will eat your still-warm, from-scratch cookies off the counter. The toilet will overflow because someone tried to flush a Lego creation. And the computer will crash just before you save that 800-word blog post — the one in which you poured out your heart with deep vulnerability.

I’m just here to encourage you.

 

The milk will probably spill.

 

Seriously, though. These are the things that can get to me. In fact, it’s often the little daily annoyances that bring out the me that I can’t stand. The one that I hope no one else sees or hears or remembers. Because she can be jacked. up.

So in recent years I’ve asked for wisdom for those kinds of moments. Because they’re gonna happen. And I really don’t want to hurt anyone. Literally.

The only solution that seems to work sounds so churchy. But it really helps me keep perspective, especially when the container of 5000 plastic beads gets poured across the kitchen and you’re still stepping on them eight days later.

 

Pause. Breathe. Pray.

 

I told you it sounded churchy. But it’s just true. The spilled milk won’t matter in ten years, but the hearts of those who spill it will. When I pause, breathe, and pray, it changes my perspective.

I may say something profound like, “Lord. God. Help me not hurt someone.” Or I may go deeper, “Father, it’s just milk. Give me your perspective. I want to reflect You and Your grace, even now. Show me what to do.”

God loves it when we simply turn to Him. He’s knows we’re dust. He knows we’re going to lose it at times. He remembers our humanity. And He just loves it when we turn to Him.

We won’t do it perfectly. We’ll still totally overreact at times — especially during heightened hormonal seasons. Can I get a witness? But even when we completely fail, He’s still grace. He still lavishes grace.

So if…when…the chocolate milk spills today, I’m asking Him to remind us to pause, breathe, and pray. We’re such a needy people.
 

What do you do to keep perspective when those daily annoyances arise?
 

Looking forward,
Lara
ToOverflowing.com

 

In Search of Joy, Mother?

That wind blows hard today. And those trees dance wild. It’s just 5 days after a groundcover of solid ice that made statues out of those oaks. A southern girl, ice is big news! Blog worthy news. It’s a change from normal. Beautiful, and yet so undesirable. It’s my heart when I’m His and when I’m not.

Because aren’t there so many days we’re not? Like when your mind fills with schedules and big plans? Facebook and laundry? Smartphones and selfishness? Clean this, pay that. They look up, our little ones. Up into our weary eyes. And rather than a tender countenance, they see ice cold faces frozen with burden and burnout. Did He really mean for it to be this way? Because there’s no getting around the hard days. Temperatures creep low and ice inhabits. Even in the warmest dwellings.

It doesn’t matter if you have 8 mouths to feed or 2, if you work outside the home, or spend most of your waking hours within its walls. Days can be chilling. Life happens. When the hours seem to run together day after day after week and you unload that dishwasher twice before the sun goes down. When he tells you he has to work late again, and one of the kids are sick, and you miss him so. If you can just get to the bottom of the laundry hamper. Or the mail pile. Or that soaking pot of stubborn crusted oatmeal scorched this morning because someone needed you!

Ugh, that ice is thick. Where on earth is joy? Where are you, happy contented motherhood?

I took my 3 outside on the morning of our ice spectacular. Beckoning them like the music of an ice cream truck, they trudged through, all smiles in their rubbers. They can find it anywhere, that joy! My children, that you would always find the true, pure, honest and the lovely things of the whatsoever. That you would think on them tirelessly. Because this trip we’re on, it’s icy. Seek joy in all things! Look for it everywhere.

The youngest boy, he’s 2 now. He found a chunk of ice with a blade of grass perfectly frozen smack dab in the center . And he was dazed by it. Me and my sweet neighbor, we watched him try with all his might to pull it out, to tear into that rock solid block. He wouldn’t give up until it broke and the grass was free. We pounded firm on that wooden log until the shattering. And he said, “Kank you mommy.” And it’s really that easy? To break through with one smack and find the joy you’ve been searching wildly for?

Look! Stop and really see how transparent the ice. It’s so stone hard. Thick! So very very cold. Mothering can be so hard.They wake up with the sun, and just as blocks being stacked too high-too quick will surely fall, it’s not quite lunchtime and you’ve lost it, dear mommy. I know, I know.

Yet that ice is clear enough to peek right into all that is to come. All the potential that reaches far and wide. And whether you beat it down, or let it melt away in slow motion, there’s something there to behold. The way everything works together, like fresh laundry when they’ve just run out of underwear and you saved the day. Like their favorite dinner you cooked in a hurry, but they eat until it’s gone. And you, feeding their souls and filling their tummies, like only you can. Like that smiling baby who’s more content because you just changed him for the 11th time today and he’s fresh and free! It’s like the way those branches keep spreading wide and beautifully holding together firm. Like when they dance wild in the spring, when all things are new. It’s wanting you desperately when they are frightened, sick, and no doubt starving. Look hard. Find it. It’s there! That redeeming joy.

That David, man after God’s own heart, he wrote of it.

Ps 16:11 You will show me the path of life: in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
Ps 30:5 Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
Ps 34:1,2 I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Ps 35:9 Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord and delight in his salvation.

So for the hard days, those that joy hides ‘neath the muck of mothering, may we ever seek and find! That we chisel away at the ice unrelenting ’til we too dance with the simplest of joys as our children marvel at our feet. When we find simple joy in the narrow places, we have strength enough to endure the vast, and to walk felicitously!

For HIS joy is indeed our strength. YES!

Kristen Williams

Kristen is wife to a man who calls her lady and mama to 3,  five and under.  On Tuesday’s, you might find one of them wiggling on her lap as she teaches piano lessons from her living room to community children.   She tells the story of seemingly ordinary days with real life photos and fresh words that fill her heart at nap time.   She cherishes childhood.  She values home.  She embraces life.  And she celebrates them at www.littlehousejoy.com.

 

Writing for the Crowd

My sister is the mother of 8 beautiful children. Wife to a hard-working man. Homemaker extraordinaire, gardener of wild things and wild hearts, baker of cakes and cookies, and curator of the good stuff.

I marvel at her, managing 8 children, each teeming with dreams, hopes, and energy. They’re all weaving a whole story of their own under her rooftop. And she writes about them. Photographs them. Tells stories of them. Yes, blogs about them all.

She writes about their adventures. About their nature lessons. About hikes into the woods and valentines crafts, Christmas dinners and slow Thursday mornings.

I tell her it sounds like a storybook. She laughs and tells me that’s far from the truth
but she’s a seeker of beauty and I tell her that she does quite a good job of finding it.

grady

Not long ago, we surprised her and took the years of blogging she had written, and printed each entry into a book. A real life, hard cover book for her own kids to hold and read. All those stories, poems, thoughts she had captured about the beauty of a simple life, there in hand to recall at a moment’s notice.

And that was when I realized — sometimes we’re not writing for the crowds of readers and tweeters out in the giant world. Sometimes we’re writing for the crowd around our feet, or the ones who are living life shoulder to shoulder with us.

She tells me her husband loves that she writes about the beauty of her life. That it helps him see it all too. That when it’s hard, or uncertain, she is chasing down the line of grace in the middle of it all, and holding up the light like a beacon of hope in their home. The children circle around the book. They recall the best of days and give thanks that someone captured it, and relive the good that is built under roofs of wood and in hearts of love.

She and me, we talk about the blogging world. How big it feels sometimes. How easy it is to feel small, insignificant, and like you’re not even sure who you’re trying to talk to anyway. There are so many voices, opinions and styles, it’s easy to feel swallowed up in the giant web of it all.

So we agree — it’s good to step back and ask, why? What is it that I really wanted to accomplish with all this blogging anyway?

Sometimes we’re not writing to give an angle on the latest controversy. Sometimes we write to give an angle on the beauty that is refracting into our lives. Sometimes it’s not about marketing and opinions, methods and how-to lists. Sometimes it’s foundations and memories, dog-eared pages and remember-whens.

If you’re writing to remember, that’s a good reason to write.
If you’re writing to capture, that’s a good reason to write.
If you’re writing to document, to frame moments, to tell stories, that is a good reason to write.

Sometimes having a blog isn’t about the numbers or how much traffic you can generate from a tweet at 2:15 p.m. Sometimes it’s much bigger, much better, much more meaningful than a stat or comment.

And that? That, I tell my sister, that is the best kind of blog.

Commitment Leads to Action, But Both Start with a Dream

When I first began pursuing my dream career as a writer, I felt guilty following my dreams. My days looked like this: homeschooling in the morning, and then writing in the afternoon with a few hours I set aside while my children played. Those early years, I wrote articles and ideas for novels as Barney played on the television. At least a dozen times during those writing hours my kids would ask me for milk, for a snack, or to play with them. I’d offer what I could but then reminded them, “This is Mommy’s writing time.”

Guilt weighed me down as if Barney the dinosaur sat on my shoulders. I thought I must have been the worst homeschooling mother ever. To combat my guilt, I swung the other way. I wanted to do everything—to make sure my kids lacked nothing. I became over-committed, making frequent library trips, getting my kids involved in every church program, and signing my daughter up for dance lessons and my boys up for sports.

It was my husband who urged me to stop the madness. Sure, I was writing and my kids had very active lives, but I was running myself into the ground. Our kids even started getting stressed because they had no down time. Finding peace took me figuring out what was most important and focusing on that.

“Commitment leads to action. Action brings your dream closer,” says Marcia Wieder. During the months to come, John and I dreamt about what type of family we wanted. This was just as important as any writing dream. Then, once we knew our priorities we were able to decide our action, our priorities:

  1. To provide a godly education for our kids
  2. To sign up each child for one extra-curricular activity a year
  3. To have dinner time as a family
  4. To train our children how to be part of the family unit and do chores
  5. To connect and serve in our local church
  6. To have reading time together as a family at night
  7. To see what God was doing in our lives and follow Him

Now that I’m getting the chance to homeschool again, this time with my two-year-old daughter, Alyssa, I’m finding I’m more lax about things. I’m also a lot easier on myself about following my dreams and being a good mom. These priorities continue to guide my everyday living as I spend time with my writing and with my daughter . . . and Barney still playing in the background.

Tricia Goyer

How I Know That You are a Good Mom

The warm tears slid down my face and were sure to soak my pillow if I stayed there much longer.  I remember staring at the ceiling and not really seeing it, as the weight of my day seemed to sit on my chest with full force.

The day hadn’t been extremely hard. Just a normal day in the life of being a mom with 6 kids.  Lots of messes to clean up and little fights to break up and not getting much else done.

I felt like a failure though as I compared the to dos on my list to what I actually got done and considered that, even with the little I got done, I didn’t spend much time playing with the kids.

I’m a bad mom.

At first I just heard it in my head but it sounded right and I breathed it in and spit it back out. “I’m a bad mom.”

Then something happened that has forever changed my life and made me into the best mom ever. I heard these words:

“Who says you are a bad mom?”

It felt like a punch in the gut and a gentle hug all at the same time as this convicting revelation soaked in deep.

I say you are a good mom. I made you. I made you to be a mom and I declare that you are good and you are a good mom.  When you keep telling yourself that you are a failure and you declare the lie over yourself that you are a bad mom then you are agreeing with that lie and becoming what you confess.  Stop confessing that over your life!  Start confessing the truth, My truth. You are a good mom and when you believe it and start confessing it, then you will become it.”

Wow. All this time… all the frustration… It was all an opportunity to choose who I was going to believe and allow that reality, that truth or lie, to determine my course as a mom.

Now I know the truth and I walk in it {most days}. I am a good mom… because God says that I am.  He says that you are a good mom too.

You don’t have to do everything right to earn that title.  God created you and He declares that you {His creation} are good.  He also created this thing called motherhood and equips you with everything you need to do it well.  All you need to have to do a great job at it is the truth.

If you have believed that you aren’t a good mom, or feel like you are failing, can I encourage you to sit at the feet of the One who made you and ask Him to show you the truth of how He sees you? Soak it in.  Start to declare what He says is true about you and you WILL start to become it.  He doesn’t say you are perfect or that you do everything right the first time but that you are good.  Allow yourself the freedom to be weak {because that is when He is strongest through you} and walk in the goodness that He has called you to.

Have you ever felt like you were a bad mom? How can you start to walk in the truth today that you are good?

With love from a fellow good mom, Kristin from The Beautiful Deep

Why Would You Do That?

There are a lot of times that I am asked some serious thought-provoking questions.  Women searching for answers that I myself am still discovering golden nuggets of truth about.

I don’t claim to know everything about blogging. One might think that I have the “handle” on motherhood, and truly, I am still pressing towards the mark for the prize of the High calling in Jesus.  

But I am open to wisdom and leading. 

When I came home from Allume with my daughter  by my side, I again realized that God always teaches me in the quiet.

May I share what happens when we abide and let the fog clear just a little bit?

Coming “down” from Christmas might be just the time to read this post and ponder.

I took my daughter to Allume this year.  I have been before, but this year was different for me.  I had just finished writing an e-book, and had found myself in a place called – tired.

I was ready for this time away.  Would you be surprised to know that I only attended two workshops this year at the conference?  I know all of the speakers, and truly would recommend always taking advantage of hearing and seeking the wisdom from any workshops you can attend.  

But, this year, I sought peace.    Peace in the blogging world, quiet in my world and heart, and this is what God did for me.

I begged Him for light.  Not for me to BE the light, but to BRING me light.  It was there, I just couldn’t see it.

Life gets foggy, and our vision becomes clouded with ideals, and expectations.  I let the fog roll away.

I spent hours in the Prayer Room.  I would meet new women each day at meals, and seek their journals to write and pray for them.

Why would you do that September?  Why would you spend money and time for a conference, and not take advantage of the whole experience?

I am asked a lot of questions.  Questions about motherhood, parenting, marriage, etc.. but the only real wisdom I could ever give you – would be this:

Abide.  Listen and follow.  In all of those areas and the rest of your life.  Choose wisely by knowing you have given the right time to the right things.

Allume for me was the most beautiful time with my daughter.  Seeing her as a fun-spirited woman, and giving me a new and fresh perspective.

I learned to look in the eyes of the blogger handing me her card, and love her for the beautiful creation God set in this place. And now, I am rotating your cards by taping a new one to the corner of my computer each week.  I am praying for you, with your picture and your site to remind me of your life and His work in you.

Allume to me is and always will be about life, His Light and a little about blogging.   

I came home from Allume, and took my first blogging break in four years.  I have not written one new post, and my “followers” have jumped by 400.  Where does that come from and how?  I have no idea, but, I can truly say, that I have seen His Direction, by waiting and listening.

Listening cannot come from busy.  Following cannot come from running ahead. 

What would I do that?  A question that I hear so often – and my answer is always this – Because He told me to.

Written by September, at One September Day

 

to my fellow {recovering} control freaks

Hi my name is Lara and I’m a recovering control freak. Seriously. I used to alternate our dinner plates by color. The ones inside the cupboard that no one saw. Can we say “issues”?.

But God gave us three kids in four years and all color-coding fell apart. Then our marriage walked through a dreaded valley and my soul fell apart. And I finally had ears to hear my God whisper in sweet perfection, “Child, you are not the one in control.”

*Deep. slow. sigh.*

 

God's on His throne

 

Thinking we have life under our control — or not — is simply an illusion. Because only One reigns. And He has authority over every storm, every bird, every heart, every principality of darkness, every cell, and every disease.

Rest comes upon us when we let go of our grip. When we let go of the people and things we’re desperately trying to fit into our box of how life should play out, and grab hold of the One who’s sitting secure on His throne.

That taking hold of Him is done in the moments. It’s done when our feelings react, or overreact, and we run to the laundry room and remind our heart of truth. That’s when His peace guards us. He promised.

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

 

Because He’s got this, wrapped tight in His perfect love. And He can be fully trusted with every detail of our lives.

Looking forward with expectation,
Lara from ToOverflowing.com
 
Any other recovering control freaks out there?
What encourages you to get past that feeling of needing to control ev.er.y.thing?

 

A Different Kind of Affair

Being a mom is often a thankless job.  So much effort.  So little praise.  It doesn’t matter if you do it amazingly well.  It can seem like it is not rewarding at all in the moment of the nitty gritty, day-to-day, mommy stuff.

Being a good wife has its rewards but even then your effort can go unnoticed at times.  You are expected to do what you should and even the best intentioned husband may miss opportunities to offer his appreciation.

But blogging…oh blogging, how gratifying you can be.  I write a post from deep in my heart and there it is…the praise comes and encouragement follows.  I check my email to find a new comment about how great I write or how touched a reader was by my thoughts.  And my heart leaps and the appreciation makes me want to do this blogging thing more.

If I’m not careful I can forget the unappreciative kids and the husband who forgot to say “great job.”  I can let things go that I won’t get any praise for doing anyway and focus my time and energy on things that gain me attention and praise.

It’s the start of a different kind of affair but an affair none the less.  My heart and it’s affections are not where they should be.  I am doing what I am doing to fill a hole and a deep need in my heart to be loved, appreciated and understood.

So how does a blogger guard herself against this type of affair that surely will hurt her husband and children?  Fill up your heart with truth.  Sit at the feet of Jesus and let Him be your lover, your confidence, your motivation for doing what you are called to.  He is the only whispers of “great job girl!” and “I love you deeply, I see what you do”  that we ever need.  We could run forever on a tank filled up with Him.

If you are a wife you are called to put your husband on top of your priorities.  If you are a mom, your kids come next.  You are God’s daughter and when He is first it is so much easier to put things in the proper order.  Blogging comes somewhere down the line, only you can decide where, but please put it lower than your family and don’t let it become a different kind of affair.

Balancing Being a Mother and a Writer

Read the first part of this post on my blog!
 
Tricia here. I started writing when my kids were five, two, and a newborn, and I was starting my first year of homeschool. My husband was in college and worked at night. We were POOR. LOL.

I started writing during naptime, but by the time I started getting book contracts, my kids were too old for naps, we still homeschooled, and my kids were home all day. So for years I wrote when they were around the house—usually in the afternoon. 

I was just talking to my daughter Leslie about this a few days ago. She’s twenty years old and she’s PASSIONATE about God. She’s a pretty great writer, too! Here is her blog: http://www.lesliegoyer.blogspot.com/

Anyway, I asked Leslie what were the benefits/drawbacks of having a writer-mom at home. These are the three benefits she came up with.

1. Leslie said it really impacted her how I modeled serving others in my life . . . and through my writing. She said I showed her how important it was to serve other people.
2. Leslie said that it really grew a love of books and writing in her. She loves to read and write and is minoring in writing/editing in college.
3. Leslie said that it was “cool” having a famous mom. Her friends thought it was cool. She also got to meet amazing people and she was able to travel with me to interesting places. (I had to laugh at the “cool” part. She never told me that before!)

I asked about the drawbacks. She told me it was what her and my brothers referred to as the “five-minute rule.” They would approach and ask me something . . . and then wait. “Then, Mom, after about five minutes, you’d turn and say, ‘What?’ Or you’d turn and answer our question. We’d always laugh about that.”

I thought that was very funny, and I can remember that happening. If I was writing I’d have to finish off my train of thought before I turned to answer them. I’m glad to know that they thought it was funny. Also, it was NORMAL for them. It was normal to have me writing at my computer for a few hours a day. (They were with me 24/7, and I had times dedicated JUST to them, too.) And I was still there—still present. Our presence as moms makes a big impact.

The funny thing is that Leslie didn’t mention the stuff I felt guilty about:
1. Not having a clean house all the time.
2. Limiting their extracurricular activities to one activity per child per year.
3. Getting a babysitter once in a while.
4. Going away to conferences a few times a year. (And later a few more times to speak.)
5. Having weeks now and then of picking up pizza or Taco Bell for dinner because I was under deadline.

Every family is different, but this really encouraged me. As I balance writing with a two-year-old, it’s been a huge BENEFIT to see that the older three have turned out great. It’s helped me to realize that I often feel guilty about things that aren’t really going to matter years from now. It also makes me realize that being present, and letting your kids know that they ARE the most important thing, goes a long way!

Tricia

www.triciagoyer.com
www.notquiteamishliving.com

No More Leftovers

 

Last spring I had my middle school students engage in an activity that focused on helping others. I asked them to move around the room writing on posters — popcorn style — what their ideas were for giving back to their community.

After this activity I ended up hanging some of the posters above the desk in my office. I was touched by what they had written. Many of their ideas were surprisingly creative for such young minds; “raise awareness of the needs by making PSAs”, “hold a 5K to raise money for children who need shoes”.

 A couple of weeks ago one child’s words caught my eye, and for weeks I haven’t been able to take my eyes off of it;

Giv them yor leftovers

Obviously this middle schooler needs to work on his spelling a little, but that wasn’t what caught my eye. I am captured by how this statement “Give them your leftovers” summarizes the culture of today.  I’m struck by how that statement, rings home in the culture of our homes, families, and churches.

Leftovers are what you don’t want, they’re well…left over. They have this connotation of being extra, able to be discarded. It’s what you eat the second day, sometimes willingly (hello, day after pizza!), sometimes just so it doesn’t go to waste (that casserole that flopped). Having leftovers for dinner is usually the “easy way”, the no-preparation-time kind of meal. It can be thrown together and it works. Sometimes it fits and everyone’s happy, other times you get the “not again” sighs and comments. But it’s easy, it works, and why not, that’s the way our mothers did it right?

This child’s words have left me struck by how I give my leftovers to others. I have my “to-do” lists (yes, plural) that need to get crossed off, my blog and work goals that must be accomplished, my errands that I’m required to run, etc. After I’ve checked all that off; my husband, my family, my friends, my Church, my community…they get my leftovers. They get whatever energy I have left. They get whatever is left in the bank of time I so lovingly “spared” for them. They get my second-day-no-prep-time-quick-and-easy-leftovers.

Our fast-paced American culture tries to convince us that this is the way we’re supposed to live.

But what if we stopped living this way? What if we stopped focusing on the need-to’s, the must-do’s, and the have-to’s? What if we started giving our family our all? What if our church didn’t only get our “spare time”? What if those in need within our community got more of our attention? What if our Saturday mornings were spent riding bikes with our family, going out to coffee with a tired and weary girlfriend, or serving in our local food bank? What would happen if we gave up those lists and instead stopped to really experience a different side of life?

Yes, we do have responsibilities, and I’m not advocating neglecting being good stewards of what we’ve been blessed with. I’m just wondering what would happen to the culture of our families, the culture of our churches, and even the culture of our communities if we fought against the go-go-go mentality and instead truly invested in life. I believe God would fill in the gaps.

I believe if we invest in what matters most to His heart, relationships, He’ll help us accomplish the list of must-do’s and need-to’s.

You must realize I’m just starting my journey.  I haven’t figured this thing out myself (as I sit with my to-do list right beside my keyboard).  But I’ve hit a place where I finally realize I’m tired of serving up leftovers to those I love. I’m tired of giving luke-warm attention to those around me with broken hearts, empty bellies, and bruised {abused} arms. I want my family, my friends, and my community to get the entire meal, not just what’s left over.

By, Mandy Scarr

Tucked Safely In

Photo Credit

Worn so thin, the sheets remind me of my frazzled state of mind and this beautifully long day.  It is the start to a new weekend, and the moment I cherish at each new sunset.  I tuck the sheets close under their little chin, rub their soft wispy hair to the side, and I sigh – Knowing they are Tucked Safely In.

There are nights that I will sing softly, and after kissing their sweet cheeks, I feel the rise of their chest begin to slow, I will tread softly out of their room.  Tucked Safely In.

Weekends are like this.  I feel safe in the haven of my family – away from the on-line world, and dead-lines.  My blog rests quietly in that special place, and some will visit and read, leave comments and browse.  It is not calling my name, nor is it needing my immediate attention.  My writing has a haven, and it is – Tucked Safely In.

Motherhood can often be a vigil.  Like a night watch, with no-reprieve, yet blessings will be tucked safely in through the long night hours.  There is a purposeful period of devotion that requires steadfastness, and perseverance.  Time does not wait for us to figure out what we will do next.

 Life hands us new opportunities every minute to be tried and true.  The dinner hour, homework, reading time, or football practice, or perhaps the new virus passing through, will not wait for us to figure out what comes first.  So when do we lay our head down?

This.   I Am Tucked Safely In.  In His bosom.  In His Care.  In His Plan.  In the shelter of His wing.  In the fold of His arm.  In His resting place.

And all of this?  All of that?  It is in His care also.

While we share this weekend together here my friends – Will you Abide in Him?  Let the cares of the world go?  Put your writing aside, and fall on Him?

Whether you are in the throes of motherhood, or walking another road that is pulling you thin – Can you just take this day, this moment – to set it ALL down?

 Be Tucked Safely In?  Yes?

Oh, how His embrace is so full and free.  Go there.  This weekend and be Tucked Safely In.  

By September, One September Day

A Million Bucks for Your Thoughts

I thought I was going to lose my mind today. We’d just got back from a trip, and suitcases and dirty clothes were strewn about. My publishing company needed a project from me ASAP. My grandma needed me to go to the grocery store for her, and I had a board meeting of all things. Oh, and did I mention my two-year-old whom I’ve nicknamed Tornado?

There were a few many times I wanted to scream. “Just give me five minutes, people, won’t you?!” But in the midst of my frenzied thoughts I remembered a few things.

 We’d just had a nice weekend trip with our family.

  1. I get to work with publishing people . . . writing real books.
  2. My grandma is still alive. I can see her smile. I can hear her prayers for me. (Yes, sometimes I place my ear against her bedroom door in the morning when she prays.)
  3. I am blessed to be part of a non-profit organization that is serving the poorest of poor in our community.
  4. Finally, after years of longing for a child, God blessed us with a little girl.

Instead of screaming, I prayed. Lord, help me. Give me strength and peace. I surrender my day to you. 

Nothing changed, not really. But inside everything changed.

So, do you want to make your day miserable? Letting troubled thoughts like these infiltrate your mind are surefire ways to beat yourself down . . . and slow today’s productivity . . . and make your life seem harder compared to everyone else’s.

  1. Open your eyes in the morning and think of all you didn’t accomplish or complete yesterday.
  2. Jump to conclusions and feel unappreciated when your husband asks, “So do you have any plans today?” As if you didn’t have a huge to-do list every day.
  3. Push aside your Bible reading and jump into sorting that pile of laundry that taunts you from overflowing baskets.
  4. Remember what it used to feel like to wear your skinny, skinny jeans.
  5. Compare your kids to the star athletes and brainiacs your neighbors have.
  6. Compare your house, office, or yard to the awesome pictures posted on Pinterest.
  7. Walk the mall and point out all the things you wish you had money to buy.

(Don’t you feel depressed just reading that list?)

I’m guilty of replaying these types of messages in my mind and making my day truly miserable. Let me tell you: This is not the way to live life! You should be content with what God has given you.

Instead, here are some ways to make your day awesome!

  1. Thank God for whatever your day holds and ask for strength to get through your to-do list.
  2. Give your husband a hug and see if he has something special that you can help him with.
  3. Take time to read your Bible and ask the Creator of the universe to guide your day.
  4. Appreciate your health, and pray and ask God to help you in all areas you are weak.
  5. Hug your kids and tell them what you appreciate most about who God made them to be.
  6. Relax in your favorite part of your house for ten minutes and thank God for what He’s provided. Or pull a chair outside and thank God for the beauty of nature.
  7. Go through your closet and pull out clothes you haven’t worn in a while and take them to Goodwill. You’ll feel better knowing you’re blessing someone else through your donations.

I don’t know about you, but my day can go from feeling overwhelmed and cheap to feeling like I’m the luckiest girl in the world. It’s amazing how a simple change of thoughts can make all the difference.

By Tricia GoyerIt’s Real Life

http://triciagoyer.blogspot.com/

The Autumn Dance

I place one foot in front of the other. A stone wall is my balance beam, and I catch my breath as each rock tilts and shifts under my step. Me, 10 years old, out of the house until the sun has painted the sky orange, walking the old stone wall property lines in the land of my childhood. Under certain rocks rested pens and notebooks, words of my heart laying quiet until I would meet them after school to write and be silent.

This one certain wall that holds my memory sits at the top of the hill, overlooking the valley, and is where my mind wanders tonight.

“Mom? Are you happy?” This is a funny question for a three year old to ask, but ask she does. Her words stir me from my foggy mind. From under my grandmother’s afghans, she says these words while I swirl like a dervish around our home. I’m walking the lines of our home and in my heart, and sometimes the internal thoughts make their way out onto the lines of my face and the tone of my voice.

“Yes, bird, I am,” I sit down at her side, and she tosses the blanket over my lap. “Sometimes I’m happy. But sometimes I’m not. Just like you.”

She nods. “We are together. Me and you forever, Mom.” (If we could bottle moments up, I’d scoop this one up in all its color and tone and warmth, and place it on the top shelf where it’s sure to never break.)

It’s definitely autumn here in New York. Across the street, I’ve watched the poplar trees dance from summer into the wind, and now their leaves turn a slight shade of rusted red. A friend tells me the other day, “I miss you most in the fall,” and those words sidle up to my heart, stirring me warm.

“Autumn…asks that we prepare for the future — that we be wise in the ways of garnering and keeping. But it also asks that we learn to let go — to acknowledge the beauty of sparseness.— B.W. Overstreet, taken from Romancing the Ordinary, Sarah Ban Breathnach

It’s amazing to me how we all love a season that is so beautifully marking the end of things. We will drink our cider, jump in piles, pick apples ripe from low hanging branches, and at the end, give thanks for our lines falling in pleasant places (Psalm 16:6).

This is how it should be, I tell myself. Some hopes must be cast up into an autumn storm. Some prayers will dance into heaven and appear to die before we see life again. And in my heart, I am walking the stone walls of the places He has set us in. The “boundaries of our dwelling place” like Paul talks about in Acts. I’m stepping on the stones — the ones that feel wobbly, the ones that hide my heart, the ones that are solid and stuck in the earth, immovable, unshakeable. I’m feeling my way towards my God who has held me in the entire time.

I’m looking inside these lines — at what we’re garnering and keeping. There are pumpkin candles to light, books to read, quilts to fold, sweatshirts to snuggle in and unwritten pages of a beautiful year left in our hands. And I’m standing on the boundary lines, looking out at the things that we must let our branches shake off. The unwritten blogs, the places we did not get to, the silent graves we’ve stood beside, the to-do list items that remain unfinished, the parts of my heart to which He said “this time, no.”

From this view, autumn is turning, and the poplar trees are shaking, and I am holding an armful of the best things to keep and garnish — the love under this roof, the grace that has sustained us, the rocks that are unmoving. I am leaning into a trust that He has placed us here and established us, and because it’s from Him and through His hands first, I can say our boundaries are “pleasant and our inheritance is beautiful.” 

What are you keeping and cherishing this fall? What are you letting go into the wind? Has this season found you in places you didn’t expect?

On Bent Knees… With Tightly Clenched Fists

 

Photo Credit

It was 16 years ago yesterday, I fell with bent knees in grief.   My heart had just begun to heal, and I am left wondering if my heart will ever heal again.

It was raining, and I could barely stand under the tent that sheltered the open space I would have to leave my babies.  I was moved by the music of healing – “It is well with my soul.”   I had always believed this.  But this day, I truly doubted my soul would “be well again.”

The days to follow left me in a place of anger, confusion, healing and on bent knee – with tightly clenched fists.

Last night I stood in this place again.  The tent was gone.  The tears were still fresh, and the ashes were traded for beauty.

Beauty in surrender. Willing surrender.

I know you have been in this place.  Trials leave a mark in all of our lives.  They just look different for all of us.  For you, it may be an illness, a recent loss, friendships, your profession, an empty space never filled,  marriage or motherhood.

Perhaps you are hoping the problems or pain will just disappear.   Have you shut your heart out to change?

Transformation comes through surrender.

God has such a perfect plan for the trials in our lives.  When we hang onto the pain, heart-ache, sadness and anger  – our lives will be like the stalwart tree that refuses to lose its leaves in the fall.  Independent, clinging to the very last bit of the pain, unyielding.

Never bearing intended fruit.  My knees bent daily – beginning with heart-ache and pain. I kept hearing – “Pursue me.”  And I did.

My fists stayed clenched for so long. Afraid of more pain perhaps?  Not willing to let the loss of my babies lives be thought of as something beautiful.  How could that be?

Little by little, as I fell in grief and cried out to the Lord, my words became a conversation with my Heavenly Father.  A conversation that turned into praise.  My tightly clenched fists were now hands held high to the Heaven’s – Arms stretched out high – Palms wide open.

I was being made new. His strength was made perfect in my weakness.

Can you let go today of the very things that are holding you back from a true intimacy with the Savior?

Perhaps little daily habits of despair, confusion, discontentment, or loss have transformed into big habits. Holding tight to pain.

There is beauty in surrender.  The day I said goodbye to the lives I carried in my womb, and walked away from that tent, my heart would have never believed I could find beauty in His purpose.

Sixteen years later, and many children running at the feet of Jesus, with worship and praise – I thank Him for transforming me – On bent knees and Open arms.

You would never know the pain this heart has had to bear, when meeting me and the joy that fills my heart and floods my smile.  But the marks of growth and grace, flood the words my heart will speak to you.  The pain that bore fruit.  It was slow, hard, and daily surrender.

And it is all good.

There is Life in the Light.   Allume – Living.

Do you believe this?  I understand if you are not able to fully embrace this right now.  Our journeys are all different.

But, I do believe that we can walk them together.  Can I walk beside you today?  And join you on bent knees?

The Well-Intentioned Remark

What she said was, “The phase you’re in is physically exhausting, but that’s better than mentally exhausting.”
 
What I heard was, “If you think it’s hard now, just wait.”  And, “I have it harder than you do.”
 
What I think she really meant was, “Whatever stage you’re in, parenting is never easy.”
 
What I learned from what she said was: she doesn’t know what it’s like to be in my shoes, and I don’t know what it’s like to be in hers.  She doesn’t know the dynamics and unique needs and styles of my four children.  She doesn’t know what it’s like to homeschool and parent three girls with vastly different personalities while my 18-month old son scales any combination of objects that his tiny hands and feet touch.  She doesn’t know my personal struggles–the things that I carry with me each day as I focus on pouring myself out to the five souls in my home.
 
And I don’t know what it’s like to have three grown daughters scattered across the country.  I don’t know what it’s like to not be able to tuck them in at night anymore.  I don’t know what it’s like to not know if they arrived home safely each night after work.  I don’t know her personal struggles–the things she carries with her each day as she misses the three souls that are a plane trip or train ride away, and the one she pours her soul into in her home each day.
 
What I wish she said was, “You are in a physically exhausting stage, but it won’t always be that way.  You are doing a great job, and I can see that in your kids.”
 
What I wish I said was, “It must be so difficult to have your girls so far away.  I will say an extra prayer for their protection.  You are a great mom, and they are blessed to have you!”
 
What I wish everyone knew: that there is grace enough to go around.  No matter what any given person is facing, each person is facing something.  Responding to someone with grace, compassion, and a word of encouragement takes a touch of humility and a bit of practice, but it goes so very far.
 
 
Whether you are in a physically exhausting stage of motherhood, a mentally exhausting one, or a stage of spiritual motherhood, how can I pray for you today?
 
 

My PhotoMandy is a homeschooling mom of four, married to Mark, her Mr. Tall,  Dark and Handsome, for 12 years.  She is learning to invite Jesus in to redeem her mess each day and to ONLY take on the things to which He has called her.  She blogs gratitude and encouragement at hissongtomeshalom.blogspot.com.  You can follow her on Twitter here.