Being Mom Takes Time

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Being mom takes time.  I have struggled with what to write about today.  I am not one of those bloggers with weeks or months or pre-written blog posts dated and ready to post.  Some days I wish.  No, I’m a busy mom, a Christ follower just dabbling in this thing called the “blogging world”, primarily as a means of accountability.

I am a mom.  I own an organizing business and speaking ministry.  I home school and am very engaged in my church and association.  Life is full and if I am not VERY careful I can quickly allow my job, my volunteer activities to overshadow my being wife and mom.  Sadly, as I enter women’s homes or lives through my business or speaking ministry, I find far too many women have let this very thing happen.  They are well meaning women.  Most are women of faith.  Yet, being mom and wife has lost its place as a priority, second only to their relationship with Christ.  Their calendars and time are consumed with what they are DOING for their families instead of who they are BEING for their families.  They do things: buy an abundance of things; pay for an abundance of opportunities/lessons/activities; they drive from place to place keeping a schedule.  In the frantic pace of life though the stuff begins to overtake and the relationships begin to suffer, mom begins to suffer.

Being a mom takes time.  Not just time for cleaning, cooking, driving, purchasing, but time to be with your kids, your family. It requires focus and planning.  Too often the home is in chaos because mom has failed to block off time to be mom, doing the stuff and being present.

What is the solution?  I believe the solution is to constantly give thought to what kind of home you want to have.

First, dream.  Write it down.  Do you envision family meals and evenings playing board games in a home that reflects order?  Do you envision Saturday mornings baking in the kitchen with your daughter?  Do you dream of a home where everything has its place and at least 75% of the time is in its place?  Not perfection, but calm and beauty?  Cut pictures out of a magazine. Create a dream board.  (I keep a notebook with me that has my “dream” snapshots pasted to the back pages.)

Second, time block.  You’ve heard me say it before.  And I don’t just write about it, I live it.  the only way you will ever be the wife and mom you want to be is if you block off time to take care of the tasks you need to take care of.  Don’t just block it off, but guard it.  Multi-tasking is NOT a good thing.  In fact there are studies out now pointing to the dangers of multi-tasking.  Multi-tasking is really nothing more than being distracted.  Guard your mom time.  Drive the kids to school and lock your phone in the glove compartment.  Block off an hour when the kids get home from school or you get in from work to catch up, prep dinner.  Again, turn off the cell phone, turn off the television, put away the calendar.  If you are responsible for cleaning the home, getting the groceries, block off time to take care of those tasks.  They won’t magically happen.  You won’t “find” time to get it done.  You have to plan to get it done.

I don’t always like being mom.  I get tired of doing laundry, planning meals, running to Target.  What I do like though is knowing that at the end of the week my family and I have shared laughs around the dinner table, arguments have been minimized because we all had the clean clothes we needed.  I enjoy a less than perfect home, but one in which we are always ready to welcome friends and family.

Being mom is important.  Being mom takes time.  Don’t let life race by.  Don’t just be a doing mom.  Be a present, giving mom.  Make time to focus on your family and set the tone for your home.  It won’t be easy, you won’t succeed week in and week out, but when you get it right, you’ll be so glad you made time to be mom.

Proverbs 31 Woman: Wife of Noble Character

Unpacking the Proverbs 31 passage is truly a life changing for any woman who seeks to live life according to God’s design. The passage begins in verse 10.

”  A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies.”  Prov 31:10 NIV.

In other translations noble is translated virtue or pure.  I believe this speaks to the state we should be in before marriage-a virgin, having saved ourselves for the one God has chosen.  I believe it speaks to the state we should remain in after marriage, the partner of one man, our husband.  Our character should reflect that of Christ.  This is not about perfection.  It is not about an image.  It is about heart.  We have to remember life flows from the heart.  As we seek to keep ourselves pure and noble we honor who God has created us to be, we honor God and we bring hope and beauty to our husband, our marriage, our family and our home.  Scripture says we are worth more than rubies.  Our value goes beyond what we do, what we bring to the marriage financially.  Our value goes beyond our skills.  Our real value is based upon our relationship with Christ, our security in Him, seeking to be fulfilled through our relationship with Christ, not the relationship with our husband.

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How can I maintain virtue/nobility/purity?  How can bring hope and beauty to my husband/family/home?

  1. I must guard my heart:  this means protecting it from unsightly/immoral books, songs, television, movies, gossip, relationships.
  2. I must fill my mind and heart with His word-the tool available to me to instruct, correct.
  3. I must spend time in prayer confessing and seeking God’s counsel and direction.
  4. I need to remain humble.
  5. I need to be mindful of my choices-this is such a big area.  So often we allow ourselves to become so busy we simply move through life, never giving any real thought to our actions, our choices, our speech, our friendships.  Life on auto pilot leads to moments of disappointment.  We can find ourselves in compromising situations not even knowing how we got there.  Mindfulness is a result of scripture study, prayer and focus.
  6. I need an inner circle of godly women who speak truth into my life, holding me accountable.
  7. I must seek to serve God first and my husband second, children third.

Over the course of the next few months I am going to spend Friday breaking down these scripture.  I’d love to hear from you.  How does this passage speak to your heart?

Further reading:

Elizabeth George:  A Woman After God’s Own Heart

Ann Ortlund:  The Gentle Ways of a Beautiful Woman

Gordon MacDonald:  Ordering Your Private World

When Hope is Lost

Hope is a difficult thing.  And all too often, my hope seems lost.  I see it in my daughter too.  It breaks a heart to lose hope, to see the one you love lose hope.

Our human nature hopes in things to come-circumstances.  We hope for new jobs, new provisions, new friends, new opportunities.  We want our circumstances to change, believing our lives will change.  And there is truth in that.  The hope of the human nature breeds dreams.  We picture our circumstances or the circumstances of others to be different, better.  But human nature hope can deceive.  Circumstances don’t always change.  The new job never comes.  The loved one dies.  The friendship is lost.  Striving doesn’t change the circumstance and we lose hope.  In those moments I doubt.  I wonder if I’ve made all the wrong choices, decisions.  I wonder what I could have done or do differently.  In those moments I feel the weight of past mistakes, the weight of a world not right.  I see it in my daughter too.  The struggling to hope in a future.  The struggling to want something different and yet having no idea how to make that happen, to get there.  The struggling to look past the seemingly perfect lives of others, the successes and believe there is more for me.  When hope gets difficult, it seems I am only reminded of all the hurts, the injustices, the losses.

Hope is a difficult thing.  And when hope in circumstances fails me, when all my striving, my dreaming, my planning seem to get me no where, I realize hope has to be something different.

“But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,” Psalm 33:18

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I am reminded he bore my sin at the cross, my pain he takes upon himself each time I come to him.  I am reminded his death and resurrection offers hope in a new day, a new life that is mine at his appointed time.  While may circumstances may not change, his love never changes, the work he did at the cross remains forever, the place he has prepared for me endures.  I must teach the daughter to hope-not in circumstances, but in him, her heavenly father.  I must point her to the cross, the only place where life is changed.  She and I must learn together to quit looking around and look up.

When hope is lost, it can only be found again at the foot of the cross.

No Such Thing as Balance

We all long for balance.  The problem is there is no such thing as balance.  Life is not perfect.  We are not perfect.  Others around us are not perfect.  Harsh words for a recovering perfectionist.  Harsh reality for all of us finding ourselves battling the striving versus the being.

There is no such thing as balance.  Our days will be too full.  The unexpected will happen.  Something or everything will take too long.  As we seek to live a more organized life, to live our priorities in a meaningful way, we need to remember that balance will never be achieved.  The scales will always be tipped just a little one way or the other, AND that is o.k

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As long as the scales are gently rocking back and forth we can maintain, we can move forward, we can be confident we are living our priorities.  It is when the scales go crashing to one side or the other we need be concerned.  This week my business is taking more of my time, tipping the scales to one side.   However, I continue to protect our family dinner time, to honor the coming holy holiday, and limit the number of appointments next week.  When I can release the idea of balance, perfection, I can honor my family, friends, clients, home.  I can free myself from guilt as I meet the priorities of each given day or week, knowing next week there will be a shift in priorities.

It can be difficult to keep the scales gently rocking back and forth.  And there are those times, times of unexpected illness, loss, and even opportunity, that keep the scales tipped to one side longer than normal.  As long as there is a shifting back, as long as we remember the shift is necessary, that’s o.k.

My paper planner is key to helping me keep my eye on my priorities, keeping the scales from tipping too far to one side or the other.

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Across the top of my weekly pages I have a column for each of my priority areas.  My Home, Children, Business, Blog, Volunteer Commitments.  It is here I can track the weekly tasks.  Not only does this allow me to capture all the things I need to get done, it allows me to see where the bulk of my tasks are.  If week after week my business or volunteer activities require the bulk of my tasks, I can see the scales are tipped and I need to make some adjustments, focusing energy and tasks on family, myself, our home.  If I struggle to find a category in which to place the tasks, I know I need to assess my activities, determine if it is time to change priorities, let something go in order to embrace a new opportunity, new season. When a week seems overwhelming I can look to the next and make adjustments, focusing attention on another area/category.

There is no such thing as balance.  There is a gentle ebb and flow.  Once I embrace the ebb and flow, remembering the goal is to keep the scales gently tilting back and forth, I can release myself from the grip of perfection, the striving to do it all, and live more fully.  I can trust that while this week may be more about work, next week can be more about family, friends, caring for a loved one.  I can live a more beautiful life of purpose.

Friendships Matter to Our Daughters

I have twin 16 year old daughters.  I have loved every season of life with them.  I have to say though, there is something very settling about the season we are in right now.  They are coming into their own.  As a mom, I have the opportunity to begin to see glimpses of the women they will become.  I have the opportunity to see the fruits of my labor and know that it was not in vain.

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I have never been one to have a ton of friends.  Partly due to my personality type.  I love my alone time and I’m an introvert.  I am also extremely loyal and when I do make friends, true friends, the relationships are lasting, authentic and deep.  I have had the opportunity lately to spend more time with my friends.  We have been engaged in business, events, sharing difficulties in life.  I have also just made a point lately to spend more time with my friends.  My daughters have also been spending more time with friends.  I love to watch them interact with their friends and see them with this group of girls they have known for years, as well as the new set of friends.  They are bound with girls of like faith.  They share prayer requests, they share philosophies on dating, they share shopping, they share laughter.

This past week on the ride home from school one of my daughters commented on how much she liked one of my friends and then went on to say how happy she was I had gotten to spend more time with my friends.  I asked her why she liked my friends and why it mattered to her if I spent time with them.  I don’t think I had ever really given that aspect much thought.  Her first comment was that I was happier when I got to be around my friends.  Her second comment though was the one that mattered.  She went on to tell me she loved my friends because she knew they loved God.  She knew they were all really good moms who worked really hard to raise their children and to encourage others.  Then she said the golden words.  She said she liked my friends because she knew they prayed for her and they cared about my family as much as they cared about me.   Yes.  She is right.

When our friends are women of faith walking our faith journey with us, in honesty, in integrity, they influence our families and we their families.  I am a better person because of this small group of women.  My family is a better family because of this small group of women.  These are the women who correct me, hold me accountable, rejoice with me, pray with me. These are the women who would pick up my kids in an emergency, bring me food when I am sick and know how much I love chocolate!

As moms our friendships matter.  We are often cautious about the friends our daughters choose.  Are we as careful about our own friendships?  Do we spend time with women who influence us for good?  We need to remember the women we choose as friends will influence our families as well.  We need to remember that how we live out our friendships sets the example for our daughters.  I am so thankful my daughters see the women my friends are.  I am so thankful they see my friends as positive role models.  I am so thankful my friends enhance my family, make me a better mom and wife.

Friendships Matter.

Inspired-Back to Basics with the Proverbs 31 Woman

Any time I am asked to speak, God does a work in me.  This weekend, sharing about how to be effective women and not just efficient women, I was reminded how valuable these passages in Proverbs 31 are.  It saddens me when others say this Proverbs 31 woman is not relevant, that she is simply an ideal, and not one we can attain to.  I just beg to differ.  She is an ideal. The description of her however is the entirety of her life.  Yet, we see her included in scripture.  I believe she is the goal to be attained, much like Paul refers to.  She is the culmination of a race well run.  She is God’s design for woman and the description of her helps us in setting our priorities and making choices.

prov31I am reminded that in good season, God grants me the wisdom, the ability and the time to be and to do.  Keeping Him first and my family second, remain constant.  The opportunity to work, invest, minister, etc… come at different times.  So often in my humanness I struggle with the “in due season.”  I read Proverbs 31 and I want it all, all right now.  I strain and struggle. I become discouraged and before I know it, Satan convinces me I can’t do it.  He would be correct.  I can’t do it without Christ and I can’t do it all at once.  I have to remind myself that a “no” now does not mean “no” forever.  There are moments when God says “no, not right now”.  I have to remember that He will restore those jobs, ministries, relationships in due season.

I struggled with this when my girls were younger, spending way too much time trying to do too much, looking to the next season instead of embracing the season I was in.  I have fallen prey to that again.  I realized as I shared with others, God was convicting me.  I had let a seed of resentment set in regarding home schooling.  I was looking to ministry and jobs I wanted, but couldn’t make work in this season.  I need to embrace this moment.  What a gift.  I have the opportunity to be at home, to focus attention on both my girls in unique ways.  I get this extra time while home schooling.  I have to have faith, living in this season with strength and dignity, knowing He will open doors for ministry, expand my opportunities when this season is over.

As I refocused my attentions on this passage it was like revisiting an old friend.  Why had I lost touch?  Why I had I let my attention drift to other things?  This world needs more Proverbs 31 women.  I embrace setting her before me as an example, a goal.  I will not strive though.  Instead I will rest in Him, seeking His guidance and wisdom as I seek to love Him, serve my husband and my daughters.  I will embrace His precepts and follow His word.  I will raise girls to do the same.

The link below is a document outlining what I believe to be the attributes of the Proverbs 31 Woman.  I would love for you to use these as motivation.  Please don’t look to them as a “to do” list.  Instead see them as a guide.  Remember it is not about what you do, so much as it is about who you are.  Yes, the Proverbs 31 Woman did a lot, but the passage focuses on who she was, how she did it.

Outline

A Year Ago: The Inspire Conference that Broke Me

Shana Chaplin:

An update to a year old post.

Originally posted on Simplified Organized Styled:

I have spent the last few months preparing to lead a breakout session at Inspire 2015.  A year ago, this very conference was the site of a HUGE God moment for me.  It wasn’t the event.  It was a simple act of obedience on my part and on the part of every other woman who made a choice to be present.  Inspire is a simple conference.  Just one day-not even a full day.  It is just a day for women of faith to gather and share their stories.  Yet the simple impacts.  The sharing of stories draws us to REAL life, REAL hearts, REAL faith.  

I was coming out of one of the most difficult seasons of my life.  I was disheartened by the church.  I had been struggling with my own striving.  I was in the midst of changing my reactions to my relationship with my mother and…

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