Mother’s Day-With Mixed Emotions

Like many, yesterday was a great day.  My husband and daughters treated me like a queen.  The entire weekend was full of acts of kindness, special treats and notes from the heart.  I loved every minute of it, just as I love being mom.  So, why the mixed emotions?

I am a firm believer God uses circumstances, the hardships and joys of life, to grow us, but more importantly to tender our hearts.  I have said it before and will say it again, our greatest ministries come from our brokenness.  While I have much to celebrate as a mother, there was a time that was not so.  Six long years yearning for a child.  Years of doctors appointments, loss, pain, disappointment, envy, anger, marital tension, loss of friendships…  Six Mother’s Day celebrations that weren’t easy, each one bringing with it wonder if it would be different the following year.

My husband lost his mother all too soon.  A loving, gracious, giving woman.  A woman I had only four short years to know. A woman who would have loved her grand-daughters with abandon.  A woman of quiet strength who was a great source of encouragement.  We too often long for her to still be present, thinking of how different life would be were she still here.

I still have my mother.  For that I am blessed.  But it is a tenuous relationship, one healing after years of untreated depression leading to a reversal of roles, words spoken in anger that can’t be erased, financial strain providing home and help with spending gone out of control during moments of manic.  She loves with passion.  She perseveres.  I have learned to release, to know my limits and to see God’s infinite care and provision.

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Motherhood should be honored.  I am thankful our nation still honors those who create, who serve as the glue in our homes, our churches, our neighborhoods, cities and nation.  I am thankful we still see the significance of mothering.  I am reminded though, that while some celebrate, some are struggling.  Their chance to mother has not yet come forth.  Others know they will never mother.  Many seek to heal relationships with mothers, with children.  Others, revisit loss and the pain of a mother no longer present.

In the midst of my personal celebration I thanked God for the hardships.  I am grateful for the twinges of pain that remind me to think of others, to bend knee in their honor, standing in the gap for them asking God’s mercies be unleashed.  I am reminded every day is similar.  Each day holds victories and celebrations for some, while loss and pain exists for others.  I celebrated Mother’s Day with mixed emotions.  I’d rather celebrate that way than oblivious to all that is around me.  I’d rather remember the sorrow, the pain, than simply celebrate the gifts, the victories.  I’d rather hope for the future than live only for the moment.

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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.

Not Enough

I looked at my husband through eyes filled with tears.  “I can’t do this any more.  I have nothing-I only hear the message, ‘You are not enough'”.  In that moment I felt drained.  I honestly felt like any ability to extend grace, love generously, even think, was gone.  I had two discontent teenage daughters pecking at me, I had not been able to take care of something my husband needed done, I had received a message I wasn’t spending enough time with my mother, I had not called my mother-in-law and thanked her enough for Christmas (according to my father-in-law), I was behind on laundry, I was out of groceries, and my business had not met my expectations for the month.  The day before I had also received a call asking that I take a large leadership role in a ministry engaging women in our state.  While I desperately wanted to serve in this way, to engage again in ministering to women through a structured ministry, I knew beyond question my answer at this time was to be “No.”  It wasn’t what I wanted the answer to be.  In fact, I wanted to ignore what I knew to be true and say “Yes.” I was disheartened by the clear direction to say “No”.

It was a melt down  moment.  There was nothing my husband could do.  There were no “Sorry mom” statements big enough. There was no deleting the messages.  The only way to say “Yes” was to act in disobedience.  With wisdom my husband simply took the girls on to their respective activities, never saying a word.  And I, well I was left to fall into a puddle of what felt like complete overwhelm and despair.

Frankly, I wasn’t in the mood to talk to God.  I didn’t know what to pray.  Yet, I didn’t want to be angry.  I didn’t want to feel defeated.  Joy.  That was supposed to be my word for the year.  Only weeks into the new year and Joy felt like a universe away.  As I sat there motionless, empty, 2 Corinthians 12: 9 began to play through my mind.  “My grace is sufficient for you, My strength is made perfect (complete) in weakness.”

I am not enough.  That is the truth.  I can not do it all.  I can not, in my own strength, be all I need to be.  I am not enough.  I am not complete.  There was nothing to do in that moment but to release the emotions and lean into His grace-grace that is sufficient for me.  A part of obedience is not only doing the stuff, but it is the letting go and leaning in.  It is the acknowledging.  It is the accepting.  I am not enough.  The message didn’t need to be defeating-that’s what Satan would like.  The message simply needed to be an accepted truth that would prompt me to act in obedience, leaning into Him, His grace, allowing Him to complete me, to strengthen me.

” I am not enough, but His grace is sufficient for me and His strength is made perfect in my weakness.”  That is the message I need to let run through my mind.  That is the truth.

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Pouring In-Pouring Out

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I have had the best time with my girls the past two weeks.  As we await the finishing of our home in our little furnished apartment, we are finding we take more time to be together, do together.  In all honesty, sometimes just to get out of the little furnished apartment, but none the less.  Last week we drove to the northern part of Arkansas to visit one of our favorite people and her precious new baby girl.  For me, the trip was almost overwhelming.  Many, many emotions surfaced, but the greatest of these was love.

You see, this favorite person has been a part of lives since she was in 7th grade.  Hard to believe and a part of the story that left me feeling a little overwhelmed about my age!  My husband and I began working with the youth in our church shortly after we were married.  I lucked out and got this incredible group of girls for 7th grade Sunday School.  I was blessed to have them again in 9th grade! During this same time period my husband and I were going through infertility issues, the death of his mother, and health issues with my mother.  All that to say, I wasn’t at my best every Sunday.  But this incredible group of girls rallied around me and for every ounce of love I poured into them, they poured it right back on me seven-fold.  We ALL learned a great deal about prayer and in many ways this group of girls was my accountability group.  When I wanted to scream, when I wanted to give up on God and answered prayers, I knew I had to stay strong, hold to my faith and have hope.  I owed it to this group of girls.  You can rest assured the day I got to tell them I was not only pregnant, but pregnant with multiples we ALL cried.  When the two precious twin daughters were delivered early on December 29, 1998 that group of girls beat everyone to the hospital.  Within months, they were not only pouring love back into me, but they wrapped themselves like a little army around my precious miracles and held on tight.  Two in particular, became a part of their families.  And right along with them, came their siblings and parents.  Together these two young girls, best of friends, became our “official” babysitters.  Believe it or not, I left my two premature babies in their care at 4 months.  They were only 14!  I look back now and wonder what I was thinking!  The truth is, I never doubted their abilities, their love for my girls.  I knew deep in my heart special, life-long bonds would be formed.  And that is exactly what happened.

The picture above is one of those two precious, now young women.  She is with my daughters and her three month old bundle of joy.  We got to babysit for her.  Even as I write this my eyes well up with tears, tears of joy.  I’m not sure anyone else but us will really know all that picture holds.  It is a picture of miracles.  It is a picture of pure, unconditional love.  It is a picture of what it means to pour into others, filling them, so they can in turn pour out into others.  It is a picture of the mentoring cycle come full circle.  It is a picture of what it means to be a Christian and to love like Christ.

If you are a young mom I pray today you will consider expanding your circle to include a young babysitter or two.  Trust.  Have faith.  Think more about the investment into relationships than the cost.  If you are yearning for children and/or struggling with infertility, trust God to answer your prayers according to His will.  And as you wait, love.  Pour into someone or a group of someones. Don’t let Satan use your hurt, sorrow and struggles to squelch your ability to love and minister.  I promise, when we pour out, God has a way of pouring it right back into us.  And that is how we carry on. That is how we can face the sorrows and struggles still to come.  That is how we handle the answers.  It’s all about relationship.  It’s all about loving others.

Live on Purpose-Not Drowning in “To Do” Lists

I have the incredible privilege of previewing this book for Crystal, along with a great group of other mom bloggers.  Crystal and I attempt to live life from the same place-a place of purpose.  This book is already challenging me to revisit some of those principles I claim, yet can stray from.  That’s the thing about life-it takes focus, it takes time, it requires pause.

“Living with purpose means wisely choosing and committing to a few of the best things for the season of life you’re in.”  Crystal Paine, “Say Goodbye to Survival Mode”

There is no better time to revisit this principle.  To sit and think through your priorities and choose the best.  As we enter this time of celebration, remembering Christ’s birth, His purpose and hopefully reflect upon our relationship with Him, all that matters most should rise to the surface.  What is the best for the season of life you are in right now?  For me it’s this Second Season Mom time:

1.  Growing my relationship with God through a more disciplined prayer life.

2.  Homeschooling one teen daughter.

3.  Making each day a celebration of life-creating an atmosphere of gratitude in our home.

4.  Praying for provision and helping my husband carry out our budget.

5.  Growing a new organizing business, setting clear boundaries on the number of hours worked.