A Prayer for All You Moms When Your Nerves Are Shot this Summer

A Prayer for All You Moms this Summer

I know what you’re thinking. Summer has just begun, right? There’s no need for one of those types of posts. The kind that laments about the stresses of motherhood and all the weariness that goes along with it.

And I agree. I’m looking forward to many more trips to the pool with the kids, long days where bedtime is stretched out even longer and the schedule is ignored.

But here’s the thing. I know sometime during those weeks when the sun is blazing hot and the kids are running free we’re going to need a moment. I needed one today. The kids were bickering, it took us an hour to get out the door to run a five-minute errand, and my nerves were shot.

Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I heard myself screaming, “Just give me five minutes!” Five minutes to breathe. Five minutes to think my thoughts which I know are buried down there somewhere.

I sent my seven-year-old outside to play even though it was pouring down rain. The rain won’t melt off his skin, right?

As I was running that five-minute errand to the supermarket which ended up taking forty-five minutes, I thought of you. I thought of all you other moms out there who might need a moment too. And when you do, I pray these words find you and encourage you. I pray God grants you that peace which truly does surpass understanding. That peace which we so desperately need to cling to when the days get longer than we can manage.

Here is my prayer for you.

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I pray you find your five minutes. Twenty is even better. Sometimes this means getting up earlier, which I loathe doing, but I promise you it is worth it. There is something about being alone before the chaos starts which brings a peace that cuts through the yelling which will start later. Be alone with God. Soak in his presence. Listen to the birds chirping outside your window.

I pray you will give yourself grace. Yes, you may yell. Yes, you may lose your temper. Apologize if you need to. Lord knows I have more times than I can count. But after you do, move on. Your kids will not remember your mini-tantrum tomorrow; trust me. Unless they are teenagers. Then they might. But dwelling in a pit of guilt will only make your temper shorter.

I pray you savor this time. Soak it up. Do something you and your kids both enjoy. My kids and I love the water so much of our summer will be spent by the lake or the pool. It is our happy place and gives them space to burn all of that pent up energy.

I pray you are able to rest. And trust me, rest doesn’t mean zoning out to the tv or social media. I’m talking about a rest which replenishes your soul. I pray you are able to do something creative or something you love that makes you remember who you are when your labels of mother, wife and friend are stripped away. I pray you’re able to find time to do that thing which, when you do it, makes you say, “Ah, this is what I was made to do.”

I pray God quiets your soul. I know, fat chance when the kids are running around like lunatics, right? And yet, I still pray this for you. Whether that means a weekend away to yourself or with just your spouse, or it means a day at a spa, my hope is that you will find quiet. Quiet that blocks out all the noise and the voices of negativity in your head.

Moms, I’m thinking of you today. Even though Father’s Day is the next date on the calendar, you’ve been on my heart all week. You are strong. You are amazing. And you’re doing the work of the Lord each day you get out of bed and love those little vandals in a way only you can.

Keep pressing ahead. Before you know it, summer will be a memory. Savor each moment and remember to take one for yourself.

 

Linking up with these communities: #LiveFreeThursday

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Do My Kids See Jesus in Me?

do my kids see Jesus in me

Screams outside the bathroom door interrupted thoughts of our beach trip that was coming up in a few short weeks. At first, I thought the boys were just fighting again but then I heard the word “blood.”

I didn’t hear the calm, take-charge voice of my oldest son who was comforting his brother. All I knew was that little one was hurting, and mama had to fix it.

I shifted my speed into high gear and rushed out the door to see my four-year-old standing there with tears running down his face. He held his hurt finger carefully and lifted it up for me to see. I could tell he’d poked himself with something sharp but had no idea what had happened.

That is, until my oldest son brought the weapon of destruction to me. His Epi-Pen, fully ejected and empty. The sight of it sent me into full panic mode.

The next couple of hours raced by in a blur of the car ride to the ER and the patient room where they examined my son. I felt calm slowly creep back into my frame when I realized he was okay. But it wasn’t until later, when the kids were in bed and quiet filled our home, that God brought the words of our firstborn to mind.

In the wake of panic, I’d ignored them, but He knew I needed to remember.

do my kids see jesus

“Don’t worry, Gabe. It will be okay. Here, I’ll get you a band-aid.”

It was only a few sentences uttered outside our bathroom door, but they showed me what I desperately needed to see. They showed love.

In the weeks leading up to this traumatic event, I was on my knees with the fatigues of motherhood. I wondered if my two boys would ever get along, and news of third baby coming left me feeling both elated and worried at the same time.

Would we be able to handle a third child? I wondered if anything we taught our boys was sinking in to their little hearts and minds, and now our attention would be pulled elsewhere. I tried to trust in the strength I knew God would provide, but I needed reassurance. And in an instant, God provided it.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! 

Psalm 127:4 ESV

As I recalled the words of big brother, they were like arrows, firing against the worries filling my head. They shot down the lies of the enemy and reminded me of God’s faithfulness.

Sometimes it’s in those moments of chaos and panic when we see what people are truly made of. They either crumble under the pressure or rise. They run away or with God’s help, they will rise like arrows.

Though I hope the event will never repeat itself, God used this moment of panic to show me the strength of my children. He used it to show me the answer to many prayers, and the answer to hours spent wondering if they saw his love in us.

The answer was “yes.” Our labor was not in vain. Our arrows were sharp, and getting sharper each day.

Why It’s Okay to Let Your Child Lose

proverbs 20-11

“Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” -Unknown

I spent the first five years of my oldest son’s life cleaning up all his toys. He’d dump out the Legos, the trains and tracks, and I’d clean up the mess as son as he moved on to the next thing of interest.

I could blame my OCD nature. He didn’t clean up the “right” way. I could say it was too much of a hassle or that it took too long for him to do it.

But the truth was, I knew better.

One day my husband said matter-of-factly, “You have to let him start doing this,” and my mind flashed forward fifteen years. I could see myself hunched over, still picking those God-forsaken Legos off the floor.

I knew something had to change.

Is Winning Worth the Cost?

 “Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.” Proverbs 20:11 NIV

 A few days ago, my now seven-year-old entered his second pinewood derby race. With the exception of cutting the car, which he was too young to do, he made the entire vehicle himself.

Now, the rules for this race explicitly state for the kids to do “the majority of the work.” But as my husband and I have discovered, this rule is mostly overlooked. One glance down the row of cars with perfect paint jobs and precisely placed weights is a dead giveaway.

Needless to say, my son hasn’t won a trophy. And I am perfectly okay with that.

Sometimes, my competitive nature tries to get the better of me.

“Other parents are doing it,” I tell myself. “What’s the harm?”

As these questions play inside my head, I remind myself of the values I try to instill into my boys each day. This raising of kids isn’t for the faint of heart, and as much as I like winning, it just isn’t worth it.

When it comes to winning, losing, and all of the ground in-between, here are a few things my husband and I have learned along the way:

  1. Doing the work for your kid doesn’t teach them anything. Often, I want to swoop in and kick the ball, make the goal, read the book, or tell the other kid he has to befriend my son because of how great he is. But this type of behavior isn’t doing him any favors. Instead, it screams, “You aren’t capable of doing it yourself.”
  1. When they complete the task themselves, it instills confidence. Our son may not have won the race, but it was his car, his design, and his He designed his vehicle to look like Pap Pap’s truck. And he enjoyed every minute of it.
  1. When your kid does the work, winning is so much sweeter. I’ve seen my son win awards and accolades for work he’s done on his own. And the pride and confidence beaming from his entire body far exceeds anything I’ve seen when we do the work for him.
  1. If we break the rules, why should they follow them? Saying, “It’s just one rule,” or “Everyone else is doing it,” sets a precedent. Our kids are watching how we act closely. If we don’t want them to fall into the pattern of thinking the rules don’t apply to them, we have to model this behavior ourselves.

Raising kids is hard, and I’ll be the first to admit I’ve failed more times than I can count. But I pick myself up, vow to learn from my mistakes and try again.

By God’s grace, I’m teaching my kids to do the same. But I can’t teach them to do something when I don’t allow them to try.

After the race, Daddy gave our little engineer some pointers on how to advance his car-building skills next year. And I have a feeling he won’t stay at the bottom for long.

 

Linking up with these communities: #IntentionalTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #CoffeeForYourHeart

Will My Kids Turn Out Okay?

Will My Kids Be Okay

During my first few years of motherhood, I had this horrible fear that I was going to mess up my kid. I questioned everything from his diet to the laundry detergent we used to make sure we made the perfect decision.

Crazy, I know. Then he went through a phase where all he wanted to eat was noodles. Much to my horror, I was forced to reevaluate.

It wasn’t long before we had another boy and my oldest reached the age of “why.” Instead of me questioning everything, he did. We’d laid a foundation of Christ’s teachings in our home and taught him about kindness, forgiveness and helping others, but I worried he would soon question the things that mattered most.

I avoided talking about certain topics or biblical principles because I didn’t think I could explain it in a way he would understand. I tried to plan out conversations and make sure I knew all the answers, but we all know life doesn’t follow a script, right?

When my youngest son reached the toddler age, I realized we were dealing with a whole new set of challenges. He was headstrong and fearless, and although he hadn’t reached the age of “why” yet, he brought out behavior in my firstborn that I’d never seen before.

My normally gentle, calm-spirited kid became aggressive and mischievous.

As I watched other calm, well-mannered children at story time, I’d try to keep mine seated and swat their hands when they moved the felt characters on the storyboard.

One day when I was feeling particularly inadequate we were shopping for Christmas decorations. It also happened to be one of the busiest shopping days of the year: Black Friday. My husband and I explained how the stores might be crazy because people were shopping for gifts and told the boys to stay close.

Then, out of the blue, my husband asked our oldest if he thought gifts were the meaning of Christmas.

“No, Christmas is about celebrating Jesus’ birthday,” he said without hesitation.

Now, I realize what you might be thinking. You may think he was reciting what he’d heard or saying what he thought we wanted to hear. I know because I had the same doubts.

But what I’ve realized in this journey called motherhood is in the middle the doubt, the frustration the fear of the unknown, one of the best things we can do for our kids is show up.

Instead of going on autopilot or avoiding the hard conversation, I can be present. Instead of giving in to make life easier, I can stand firm in the decisions my husband and I make together.

And when we do these things, I can listen to my son tell us the true meaning of Christmas and know he’s speaking from the heart. I can have confidence that the Spirit of the living God is working in him and through me to form the man he will one day become.

Sometimes all it takes is showing up to show my kids what matters most.

And despite all my mistakes and wondering if we’re doing it all right, they surprise me when I least expect it.

 

Linking up with these communities: #LiveFreeThursday, #RaRaLinkup

Are We Forgetting the Most Powerful Counselor We Have?

let's not underestimate

I have a confession to make.

Several times a year when I gather up the boys’ toys to donate to the Salvation Army and Social Services, I make sure they are either at school or asleep. Doing otherwise results in the inevitable cries of, “Oh, I forgot about this!” or “Oh, my favorite toy!” even though they haven’t played with it for a year.

Until my oldest son surprised me. And in an instant, I realized I should never underestimate the power of the Spirit to work in a child.

My husband and I were in the family room going through toy chests when I heard the pitter-patter of little feet.

“What are you doing?” my firstborn asked. My heart dropped and I told him a half-truth. I was organizing the toys. Which, technically, I was. But when I looked across the room at my husband, I could tell we were both thinking the same thing.

We needed to be honest. He was old enough, and he could help. I held my breath as my husband explained we were gathering toys to give away.

“We want to make sure other kids who less fortunate have a good Christmas too,” Daddy said.

I explained that we wanted to give our best so we could honor the families who would receive these gifts. As I looked at the amount of stuff lying on the floor, I knew we had been blessed with much. But did my son? I waited to see how he would react.

Then, he amazed me.

He began gathering things and placing them in the bag, which was nearly full already. Not just thoughtless items but items he and his brother played with and loved. And what surprised me most? He didn’t want to stop.

As I watched me son in awe, all I could say repeatedly was, “Thank you.” To my son, yes. I told him how proud I was and how grateful we were for his giving attitude. But inwardly I thanked God.

Often, I think my husband and I are doing this parenting gig alone. I feel inadequate on a daily basis and I second-guess decisions more often than I’d like to admit. I forget there is a third party involved, which although invisible, is the most important influence in my child’s life.

I forget about the Holy Spirit.

When I pray, asking God to help me be an example for these kids he’s entrusted into my care, he listens. When I ask him to fill in the spaces where I am lacking, he hears me.

Even when I don’t know what to ask for or how to pray, he sees.

And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

Romans 8:27 NIV

Let’s not underestimate the power of the Counselor who lives in us.

The same power which arose Jesus from the grave is accessible to us everyday, if we are in Him. We simply have to believe. We have to ask. We abide in him and seek even those answers we may not like.

And when he moves and stirs hearts in those moments we least expect it, we fall on our knees, we give thanks, and we know with new certainty: our help comes from him.

 

Linking up with these communities: #RaRaLinkup, #IntentionalTuesday, #TellHisStory

Uncovering the Lies of Postpartum {Part 3}

uncovering the lies of postpartum

Friends, we’ve reached our third and final part of this series on the lies we tell ourselves and hear from others as new moms. My prayer is that you’ve been encouraged or given a helpful word to share with another mom who is struggling. This journey is filled with so many highs and lows, but it is so much sweeter when we have a community to help us along the way and speak life into our dark places.

Today we will talk about the lie # 3: You have to mother like those who’ve gone before you.

uncovering the lies of postpartum-3

I did not purchase a copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting when I found out I was pregnant with my first child. It wasn’t on my gift registry, and it never found a place on the bookshelves lining our family room.

Although I did buy a book outlining the various stages of pregnancy and postpartum, I soon realized there were no written words which could prepare me for this calling in life. During the first few weeks and even months, I floundered around searching for those maternal instincts I was supposed to have and they were nowhere to be found. It was as though the mothering gene had skipped my spot on the family tree.

My baby cried incessantly and everyone wanted to offer advice as to why. He was hungry. He was wet. He was teething, gassy or colicky. I didn’t know whose voice to listen to and the magnitude of all of them echoing in my ear sent me into a panic.

I was convinced a monkey could do a better job taking care of my child, and the recommendations of experts from books like Baby Wise left me feeling more dismal than equipped. As I dealt with the effects of PPD and tried to take care of my son, God sent a friend who kept reaching out and pursuing me even when I was a recluse who barely left the house.

She told me things would get easier. She gave me encouragement when I wondered if I was doing anything right. But most of all she was there. She was a steady calm in the chaos of this new season and didn’t retreat when I had nothing to offer her but my presence.

Eventually, my role as a mom began to feel less like a set of ill-fitting clothes and more like me. I still had good days and bad ones, but I was seasoned enough to realize the bad days didn’t define me. The more I forged ahead and continued waking up each morning, putting one foot in front of the other and loving my child, the more I realized something.

No one else can create your formula for motherhood. It is as unique as your DNA.

Sure, we can take sprinkles of this direction and that one, using the advice of others in a process of trial and error to figure out what works and what doesn’t. But in the end, if we trust the abilities God gave us and believe that ultimately, we know our child better than anyone else, we will find a rhythm that is completely our own.

And as we keep dancing and learning new steps as we go, the result will be nothing short of the beautiful.

Uncovering the Lies of Postpartum {Part 2}

uncovering the lies of postpartum

Happy Tuesday, friends! Last week we kicked off a mini-series on some of the lies we tell ourselves, or are told by others, during postpartum. My hope is that by discussing some of these, moms will see that they are free to explore this beautiful journey in their own unique way and find what works for them.

Last Thursday we discussed the lie that you have to do it on your own, which can take on many forms. I talked about my struggle with PPD and how I believed asking for help was somehow admitting weakness.

Today we we will talk about lie #2: You have to share your first mothering moments with the world.uncovering the lies of postpartum 2

The iPhone made it’s grand entrance shortly after my first son was born. Although I immediately wanted one, I held out for several years before taking the plunge into the world of smart phones. Crazy, I know.

Now, as I peruse Facebook, I can instantly see the status of all of my pregnant friends and know when their babies enter the world. There are few things that make my empty uterus jump more than the sight of a newborn on the screen of my phone, complete with squinted eyes, wrinkly skin and that pinkness that says, “I’m new here.”

And then there’s the moms. I see their tired faces and their bodies, still stretched from the life they once held, and I think how brave they are. Not just because they brought new life into the world, although few things braver than that, but because they are sharing it.

Make-up or not, they are letting people into a sacred moment in their lives. They are giving a little glimpse of the miracle which just took place.

I get it. After the birth of my second child, I was sharing pictures all over the wide world of social media. But after the my first son was born in 2006, well, let’s just say I’m glad smart phones hadn’t made their grand debut.

The first pictures taken of me after my emergency c-section remind me of a scene from Night of the Living Dead. Not only do I dislike sharing them with others, I don’t even like looking at them myself. I can see the shock and the grief on my face. I can remember the anxiety and the lost feeling.

I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know when the last time I slept was.

But in the midst of the uncertainty came an unexpected gift: my mother-in-law. She cooked and she cleaned. She rocked her new grandson and fed him during the 48 hours I couldn’t. And she didn’t take my picture.

As a person who has a difficult time asking for help, she offered me more than I could have asked for in my fragmented words. But I didn’t have to ask, because she simply gave.

New moms, expecting moms, and moms who have been there and back again, can I tell you something?

You have permission to forge into the life-changing journey of motherhood without an audience.

You have permission to bond with your baby without the an electronic device beeping notifications every five minutes. You can leave the dishes in the sink, keep your bathrobe on until noon and fluff the clothes in the dryer on repeat.

Jesus tells us in Matthew to, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV) Friends, this isn’t just a physical rest but a spiritual rest. It’s a heart that is free of striving, people-pleasing, and weighty expectations of others.

So here’s my promise. If you want to share those first moments between you and your baby, I will enjoy them with you and marvel at those tiny toes and fingers. But if it’s weeks before you post your first picture or host your first “meet the baby” ordeal, I will support you with grace upon grace.

This road is hard enough without us feeling the pressure to be social media-ready and host-ready within days of birthing a baby into the world. We need support, yes. And I’m sure most of us want to share the joy of this new chapter with others.

But let us do it in our own time, in our own way, and without any added weight on our shoulders. Let us rest in knowing even if no one else sees, the Creator does.

 

Linking up with these beautiful communities: #RaRaLinkup, Intentional Tuesday, Coffee for Your Heart