Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Just some thoughts from the overflow of my heart

Today is one of those days where it feels important that I write something to all of you. It's been quite a while since I've blogged and I have not been entirely focused on writing during this season of my life. I've completed an e-book, but I'm still in the process of figuring out how to publish it. I've taken on some additional work so that my husband and I can work on some of our financial goals. I'm leading a Bible study and learning how to be a women's ministry leader. My oldest son has sports and I feel like I am in the middle of a time of change and adjustment. 

Being online has felt like the very last on my list of priorities. Seeing the people in front of me and making the most of each day has been at the top. But at the same time – I miss expressing what God is doing in my life and connecting with all of you. I continue to battle with the tension of being a working mom – but through some amazing connections, conversations and continually laying every day down at the feet of the Lord, I'm understanding the role of
redemption within my own story and feeling more comfortable in my own skin and in the pace of my life.

My life is definitely messy, but there is a better rhythm within each day and I'm learning to recognize when I am getting ahead of the rhythm and when I'm focusing on the wrong things.  One of the things I realized is that I have spent too much time judging myself.






This might sound loopy but I'm finding myself having a lot of conversations with myself – realizing how much pain I have caused myself in judging myself and looking down on myself. And I'm recognizing how much it hurts the Lord as well as my walk with him.

It's funny how I try to pride myself on not judging others. And yet I feel like all day long I keep constant tabs on what I'm doing right versus what I'm doing wrong and then my emotions are settling on those things. It really makes me feel like a gigantic yo-yo. And it's pretty nutty and amazing and overwhelming to think that God's grace and his redemption just wraps all of those yo-yo emotions and days up and hold them close and turns them into something beautiful. It makes me seriously want to cry when I picture the glory of it all. 

When I think about miscommunications in my marriage, yelling at my boys when I'm tired, going several days without spending time with the Lord, making impulsive spending decisions, all of those things that I think somehow disqualify me. I'm grateful that the Lord is now showing me how to sift through those things, lay them at his feet, take a hold of his hand and let him help me change a little bit at a time. He never asked me to be perfect, but he asked me to trust him who is perfect.  I feel like a piece of broken silver, that is very valuable, but is not been shined up in a while. I think I spent a lot of time trying to shine myself up – and now I'm content with the process of the Lord shining me up and shining through me – because even the cracks are things that He can use.  

There are some days where I feel like I am on that spinning wheel in a mouse cage and I'm going nowhere, and in the past I used to sit, stop and wallow, but now I'm being braver and letting the Lord get me out of that cycle and move on to new ways. Jesus is amazing. The gospel is amazing. Life is all about redemption when you walk with the Lord. Redemption takes time, sometimes it takes a lot of grit and fight, other times it takes the willingness to just do nothing and be still and wait, but it is a life filled with surprises, joys and miracles and I wouldn't want anything else. I am just in awe of my Lord and Savior, the way that He reaches down and makes holy ground right here in the middle of my everyday.

Praying for all of you to find holy ground during this season – wherever you are at in your faith and however you interpret this time of the year, I encourage you to sit with the word of God, listen to Silent Night, O Come All Ye Faithful, Joy to the World and be brave, move forward, stop judging yourself, see yourself through His eyes, be goofy, fight hard, and lean into Him. God bless.

Liz

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Rehabilitation of this Christian Working Mama

Have to admit something – something that really bothers me because it is so contrary to who Jesus is and what the gospel is all about.    And I didn't even know that I struggled with this until recently. I think it is probably one of the biggest lies that I have believed as a follower of Christ. And I'm so excited to call it out for what it is –

I used to feel that certain struggles in my life disqualified me from being useful to God...

I didn't know that I felt this way, but deep down inside – I did not feel like my life "looked" a certain way/the "right" way...

I wasn't confident that I was really "the type" of Christian woman to do ministry, be a Bible Study leader, speak in front of church, share the gospel...

I thought – that was for a different kind of woman...

You know sometimes when you feel a certain way in order to fight back against it you need to do something about it. Although I knew that the Bible said different – I could not shake the feeling for so long. And so I prayed about it and God led me to do something. He led me to take action and it has made all the difference in the world. My actions changed my feelings, and brought me new life.

I work with people who have disabilities- many of them want to work so badly, it is crazy to me when I think of the days where I actually complain about going to work. So – my job is to help "rehabilitate" them and because I work in "vocational" rehabilitation – "work" is  the form of rehabilitation that I focus on.

Amazing for those of us who dislike our jobs and complain about having to work at all – that for many people work please a huge role in their own rehabilitation.

Do you know what it means to "rehabilitate"?
Webster's says...
1. To restore to good health or useful life
2. To restore to good condition
3. To cause to be regarded again in a positive way
4. To restore the former rank, privileges, or rights of

Is this not what Christ has done for us?
And guess what?
It does not end at the work of the Cross!
Christ is constantly restoring our lives to be useful for Him, returning us to a good condition where His love can shine, shining through us so we are regarded in a positive way, restoring us to have the privileges of being a child of God!

This year- God has given me work to do for His kingdom.
He has given me purpose, He has given me tasks...
He has used me and it has made all the difference in the world. 

He has been rehabilitating my soul by allowing me to be a part of what He is doing despite my failures and my misunderstandings of the type of person God uses.

Do you have an issue that you feel is keeping you from serving God?
Do you somehow feel "disqualified" because of_____?

STOP.

Your worth is found in Christ.
You may have made mistakes- but if you are in Christ- you are a new creation.
You can change.
You can make better choices.
You can turn away from sin and choose obedience...
Your past is gone.
Every day is a new day in Christ.

And God will use you! He has a purpose for you right where you are- don't EVER think He can't use you for His kingdom.

Romans 8:28
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,h for those who are called according to his purpose."

Is there one thing that God has put on your heart that you can do, even though you might feel somehow "disqualified"? I challenge you to do that one thing and share how God uses it to rehabilitate your soul.

Love you!

Liz

Just a reminder – to be clear – salvation is a free gift from God – we don't have to earn salvation through our works. This message is not about that at all.  But when we know who Christ is and we are following him, we can choose to live out the truth in our lives, no matter how we feel, or where we've been, or what we struggle with.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Let's Talk About Why Christian Mothers Work Outside the Home

So- on my last post- I indicated that I was not likely to discuss the WHY behind working mothering on social media. I still think that this is a good general rule because I don't want to open up my readers to hurtful words and judgment.


 But I was having a conversation with a friend and she really got me thinking. She said- "We are called to love our neighbors. We cannot love, if we do not KNOW- knowing is about names and stories. Shame silences. It is not concerned with knowing" Lisa-Jo Baker
I don't want any more silence...it wears me down- that is why I started this blog in the first place because I needed to talk about being a Christian Working Mother.


So- I want to start a conversation- just a conversation- because what we don't talk about can often become a place of silent fear, shame or guilt. And we all want to be known- right? Let's try to facilitate just a little of that here in this space.

 So let's talk... first about why it is hard to discuss WHY Christian moms work-

  • For those of us who work outside the home- we want to know why people feel the need to know why? Right? We secretly wonder- if they want to know WHY- it is likely because they don't approve or think that our decision is not the best one for our children and family.  A response to this is...maybe we need to be better prepared to answer the question without being offended.  Maybe we need to learn how to discuss our mothering and working status with more ease and maybe we can learn how to do that by first just talking about it in a safe place... 
  •  
  • If we are the ones asking the questions (maybe if we are a stay-at-home Moms)- it is because we love being home with our kids and truly feel that Moms who work outside the home are- hurting or neglecting their children- maybe we have even seen this to be true with someone we know personally. Maybe we sincerely worry that the kids are not being put first and that upsets us. A response to this...maybe we need to remember that choices women make about mothering are always accompanied with big feelings. We also need to remember that sensitive questions are welcome in relationships that are well-established and solid. So we need to tread gently into these conversations with people we have invested our lives into.  

There are also many women who do not question why another mom works but just does life with them, gives them love and support and no judgment which of course is awesome.

 I thought I could start simply by sharing from my experience-

These are the reasons that the women I know work outside the home:

·         They are the one who holds the health insurance in the family. Their husband is self-employed and healthcare is expensive. These women have been blessed with good healthcare at their jobs.
·         They have an injured spouse who cannot work.

·         They are single Moms.

·         They feel called to use their God-given gifts to serve in the workplace or in full-time ministry which is also their vocation.

·         In order to afford to live in a safe neighborhood with a good school system, they need two incomes to afford their home.

·         They are helping to pay for their husbands to go through school to reach their career goals.

·         They thrive in the workplace- they have personality-types that are best suited for daily work and the structure of working.

·         They feel that they are better mothers when they have been given the opportunity to work during the day. For various reasons- maybe they have tried to stay home- and have found that they struggled immensely with being home all day.

·         They have accrued debt-possibly due to poor choices, possibly not- possibly due to burdensome healthcare costs or unplanned emergencies. Whatever the reason- they need to work to become debt-free, which they know is honoring to God.

The list above all represent real women that I know. I am not saying that these are the only reasons women work...
Most of these Moms that I know do have moments of struggle with their working status.

They also have moments where they enjoy their work.

They have moments where they wonder if they are making the right decision.

They are mostly just trying really hard to do the best they can.

All of these women made these choices thoughtfully with prayer and much heart-work.
Again-these are women I know. Every woman is different, their stories are different.

Why do YOU work? You don't have to answer but if you want an opportunity to have a voice on this topic, to join in the conversation- speak up.
And stay tuned because my next post will be some stories about how Christian Working Moms are making it WORK for THEM.
Lots of love!

Liz 
 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Encouragement, Perspective and Connection for the Christian Working Mother

So, I was talking with a dear friend over the weekend about the blog and she was asking to hear more about it. 


It was a good discussion because it helped me to reflect on the purposes behind the blog. As it grows, it is definitely important for me to be clear about this.






I explained to her my three words that are in the subtitle – Encouragement, Perspective and Connection. 

I explained to her how I want my blog to be used by Christian Working Mothers to find-

Encouragement through stories and honest, authentic discussion. 

Perspective- to be able to view our roles through the lens of the Word of God, through our daily walk with the Lord, and through our purpose in the body of Christ.

Connection with other mothers and with the Lord in order to fight the feelings of isolation that many working mothers experience and to overall build each other up.

For those of you who may not know – I have been working on an E-book and I have felt a tad overwhelmed as I thought about what I should include in this book. 

There were moments where I wondered which issues surrounding being a working Mom I should be focusing on- so many things have flooded my mind and heart...big issues, big emotions and big topics. I felt very small as I thought about them... 

So...I was advised by an author-friend to look through some of the posts that were the most popular and include those and as I did this- I saw that they all contained the themes I try to write about- Encouragement, Perspective and Connection- this was confirmation and comfort for me. 

I wanted to share something because it feels important to address.

Here are two things I started to think about which felt too big for me, why I will not address them on this blog and how I think they need to be handled.

1. I felt challenged to use this platform to somehow counsel those working mom's that don't want to be working moms. 

I somehow felt it was my duty – if I was going to "go there" and dedicate an entire blog to the topic of being a working mother and a Christian- that somehow I needed to make sure I could help women who did not want to work outside the home.  I felt like maybe I should be offering ideas to working mom's of ways to cut back their schedule, work from home jobs, etc... That I should be connecting these moms in some way with some real help.   Honestly – I would love to be able to do this and if it is God's will – maybe at some point I will have the resources available to provide this type of counsel.

2. I've also felt challenged to use this platform to somehow defend working moms and to explain why we work.

I felt like somehow I had this responsibility to explain or somehow to make sure that the image of how Christian working mothers live their lives is _____...so that others would stop judging.    

So this is my stance- unless God shows me otherwise- addressing these issues is not the role for this platform – nor is it helpful for it to come from ME.

Here's why...when a woman feels that working outside the home is not what she is called to do, these conversations deserved to be held between trusted friends, a safe network of people, a wise counselor, a spouse, a pastor, and should be handled with care and prayer- it is not a topic that needs to be blown up on social media

This woman needs love and support and wise counsel from the people God has put in her life.     

As far as defending the reason for why working mom's work- I will not put a spotlight on this topic on social media. I will not. Why?

Because it can bring too many opportunities for people to express things that are hurtful, toxic, and harmful.  It is not worth exposing my readers to these kinds of discussions. And it's not honoring and glorifying to God. 

The only way to find peace in any area of our life, for ALL MOMS – whether it be marriage, parenting, work, friendship – is to surrender it over to the Lord. So I don't need to specifically discuss the reasons behind why mothers work.  

I will say this – if we see a sister in Christ doing something that is harmful to herself or her family – we should pray for that sister, do life with that sister, and as led by the Holy Spirit – speak the truth in love. This could be an issue surrounding working outside the home, it could also be a million other issues.    

As far as creating some image for the working mom for the world to see?

The truth is that I can never put up an image other than who I am- and I am not this super confident working mom and I am not going to ever pretend that I am. I don't have all the answers-but I know the source of all truth- Jesus Christ- and to Him I will always look to, and surrender this blog to- it is His...   

What I would like to do is at the end of the day – contribute to a cohesive, life – giving stance from the body of Christ for mothers who work outside the home-  

The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news to all Moms and it is the only thing that I can stand on.    
 
This blog needs to be a place that is life-giving.

And my hope is that as Christian working moms read this blog, connect with others and gain perspective- that they will always be committing their work, their time and their hearts to the Lord so that He is at the center of their everyday lives.

If something on this blog leads a woman to quit her job, reduce her hours, change her job to something that works better for her – that's awesome!

If this blog provides a way for a woman to find peace with her current situation – that's awesome!

If this blog helps a stay at home mom have greater empathy for a working mom – friend, that's awesome!  

If this blog helps a church/ministry see that there is a need to support and provide opportunities for working moms to connect at their church – that's awesome!

I even and especially hope that at some point- this blog will contribute to ending the Mommy Wars and that working moms will step up, stand with, support and lift up stay-at home Moms!   

If you stop by this little space on social media ...

I pray that you will always find Encouragement, Perspective and Connection for the Christian Working Mother. 

So when I finished my conversation with my friend... 

She said very simply –"so you are not about the "why", you are about the "how". I liked that.

This space should be a place where we find how to do life as Christian working mothers – it is a simple and as complicated as that.   

Love you all!

P.S.- I am hoping to have the e-book ready by December/January! It is all in God's hands – it is a process and I appreciate grace, patience and prayers!

 








Thursday, October 8, 2015

Seven Gifts of Being a Working Mom

So, really- working Moms- lately God has been reminding me to chill out on the negative self-talk...

To take a good hard look at my life and see what HE is up to and be grateful and amazed!!

Being a Working Mom gives us gifts that sometimes are hard to see but when we do, they are a joy to unwrap and embrace....a few of my favorites:
  1. Being a working Mom allows me the opportunity to be a part of the world and be an ambassador for Christ in the workplace.
  2. Being a working Mom teaches me how to prioritize my time, how to say "no" to certain things (like committees, elaborate meal preparation) and an "absolute yes!" to others (like glow-sticks in the front yard at 8:00 at night just to see my kiddo's light up and living room picnics because fun needs to happen no matter what time of the day it is).
  3. Being a working Mom forces me to admit that I cannot do everything myself. I have to allow someone else the privilege of loving on my babies while I am gone. And I do not take one second of that time for granted. Every boo-boo kissed, every lesson taught and every comfort provided means the world to me. And I have been able to develop extremely rich relationships with the amazing women God has placed in my life to watch my kiddos.
  4. Being a working Mom gives me an abundance of teaching opportunities for my kids as I incorporate lessons I am learning at work, how I see God working in my job and what work provides for our family. Talking about work to my kids has become a very important way for them to see the connection with why Mommy works and what God is doing in the world.
  5. Being a working Mom brings me to a place of great need. Dependence on God is the ONLY way I can thrive as a working Mom. I need to constantly ask God to help me make the most of every moment because they all COUNT and I treasure them.
  6. Being a working Mom teaches my kids resilience, independence and the importance of the family unit. When I work, my time with them is limited. They understand that as a family we need to be a team. We need to help each other in order to be strong. My kids learn it is not all about them all the time. They see that all of us have a role to play and that when we are all doing our part- our family is honoring God and each other.
  7. Being a working Mom allows me to be a strong helpmate for my husband and strengthens our bond as a team. We have goals to reach as a couple. We work to live, we do not live to work. We make sacrifices with extra hours when things need to get done and we take long vacations when time needs to halt for our family to bond. We have to do a lot of communicating and strategizing and paying close attention to everyone's needs in order to keep our family healthy and strong. All of these things HELP our marriage.
Just felt the need to state out loud some of the benefits of being a working Mom.

As always- I will re-iterate that ALL Moms are working Moms. These lessons I learn, stay at home Moms learn as well as they utilize their amazing gifts and abilities at home to do all of the above.

Be encouraged sweet friends!

Lots of love!

Liz

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Prayer for the Christian Working Mama

Dearheart,

Do you have any idea how much you are loved, cherished and adored by the Lord? He sees you, knows you and longs to be with you. You wonder sometimes if you will ever be enough- for your family, your work, your church- but remember that having His love is something you NEVER have to work for- never worry about being "enough" for. It is finished. If you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior and have decided to live for Him, you are saved, you are accepted just as you are.

Somedays you probably feel so completely alone. Maybe on that drive to work, or those early mornings making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and ironing clothes, packing bags and thinking about work expectations...you feel like the world is on your shoulders. But remember- He has got the whole world in His very capable, dependable and totally ABLE hands.

You might wonder if it is possible to thrive as a Christian Working Mama- to ever get beyond surviving and barely making it through the day. The secret to thriving is always found in Him- in knowing Him, in choosing His ways, in loving Him, in surrendering to Him, in praying to Him, in reading His word, in talking to Him and in finding Him in all of those moments throughout your day where you wonder if it all is worth it. Small steps of obedience go a very long way.

Some encouragement:

Colossians 3: 23-24
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

John Piper says: "How you fulfill the demands of your vocation is an essential part of Christian discipleship. Or to put it another way: How you do your job is a big part of your obedience to Jesus. Stated as a prayer, the main point today is: Father, grant to us all the grace to be conscious of your presence at our work and to obey your commands in all our vocational relationships. I believe this is the word of God for us today."
 ttp://www.desiringgod.org/messages/your-job-as-ministry

Christian Working Mama- your children adore you. You are loved beyond measure. Every moment you have with them is special- even the hard moments. Stay the course, remain rooted in Him (John 15:5), look for moments to be still and be present and when you can't give yourselves grace. Turn up the music, dance and laugh and remember that God is in control.

You rock!
Lots of love,

Liz

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Comfort of Knowing That I Am Small

I love to be involved in many things at one time. I'm not really sure why, but my brain is constantly thinking and brainstorming and getting excited about things. Sometimes this is really great and other times it can really get me in trouble. I like to be involved in things, but often times I stretch myself too thin- I know I am not the only one- we all do it from time to time.

Sometimes I have serious difficulties being still and waiting on God...like I try to rush what God is doing because I'm so excited about the outcome and the end goal.

When I was younger I used to read the end of a book when I was about halfway through because I could not wait to get to the end.


But you know how it is – it is such a spoiler and it is not as appreciated when the entire book had not been read first. Life can be like that- you can't rush what only time, effort, and waiting can create...  

It's kind of a joke but I feel like I even try to rush technology! When I use a copy machine I tend to jam it up or mix my papers up because I'm moving too fast. Even with my phone, my husband jokes with me because I tend to wear out the batteries so quickly because I am constantly texting or sending messages to people about various things.

So I started noticing over the past few months that I was wearing down inside.
I was excited about a lot of things- leading a women's Bible study, working on an e-book, being involved in neighborhood ministry, and supporting my husband as he coaches and is a Commissioner for our local Little League.  So I was excited about these things, but I was feeling almost like I was suffocating inside.  Every.Little.Thing. was getting on my nerves! No fun.

So I thought about how I needed to say no to some things and put up some boundaries. I did that and it helped.

But I felt like God was trying to show me something even deeper that I needed to learn.

God reminded me that I was forgetting about the most important thing – my relationship with Him!
God reminded me that being with Him and knowing Him is always going to be more important, more valuable, and more rewarding than anything that I can DO FOR His kingdom or be a part of for his kingdom.  It's not that serving God is not exciting and it's not that God does not want to fulfill those spaces in our hearts where we have big dreams – but they should never replace the passion and love that we have for our Heavenly Father.

I have been reading a book lately called Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman. It is one of those books that I feel like I can only take in a little at a time and yet each time I feel so refreshed by what I am reading. She talks about being small and about grasping the fact that the kingdom of God is HERE in the small moments of everyday life. She talks about how easy it is to get caught up in busyness and accomplishments. But how she has learned to cope with this by learning how to be small.  It sounded like a great concept but I really could not grasp how to apply it to myself. And as God always does, He helped me with this.

This past Saturday I went to the airshow where my husband was working. Typically when I go to the airshow, I have both kids with me and I am very distracted and exhausted with keeping them content with the hot sun, the loud planes and the crowds. But this Saturday, my oldest son was away and I had my three-year-old with me who was completely content with helping his father bag-up giveaway items.

So I found myself standing and staring at the sky. The funniest thing happened to me...as I watched these incredible aircrafts zooming up and down and around in the sky, I felt it – the feeling of being very small and the feeling of being in awe of something very big. I could not stop watching- it was the biggest thrill, yet the biggest sense of relief.

No joke – I actually started crying.

I was standing in the middle of a gigantic runway, looking at the sky and crying...

Not because the show was so spectacular, even though it was, but because God had given me a special moment of what it meant to feel small. The reason why feeling small brought me to tears is because I spend most of my time trying to control so many details in my life- you know what I mean working mama's – and it is exhausting and I don't want to be responsible for SO MUCH HEAVY STUFF.

I did not realize that I WANT TO BE SMALL...I want to be less, I want to be weight-less.

I want to be held instead of always trying to HOLD onto everything. 

I want to be still and know that He is God instead of so busy trying to be the one in charge of all of my to-do lists, desires, goals and dreams.

I want to sit small on the lap of my Big God and just rest for awhile.

Feeling small brought me the deepest sense of relief that I have ever felt in my life. The only relief that I can even compare it to was what I felt after giving birth to my two children. But this kind of relief was even bigger than that. I couldn't shake the feeling. As I drove home, I continued to cry and thank God for reminding me that I am small and He is big. It was truly a comforting moment. And I just wanted to share about it.

It is such a good feeling to know that God does not NEED us to accomplish everything, to remember that He's GOT THIS and of course it doesn't mean that life is always quiet and restful and low-key- goodness knows – we need to be productive in accomplishing the things God puts before us – but we can do so with smallness in mind! 

We don't have to hang tightly onto our accomplishments, obsess over the details, or rush to get to the end.

We can find the joy in being small, enjoying our relationship with Christ and the comfort of knowing that we are small and He is big and that is ENOUGH- totally and completely ENOUGH... 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Monday Morning Messy

I'm not really sure why I am blogging today.

All I know is that it is Monday and I'm feeling messy...

My weekend was filled with fun – play dates, babysitting for a friend, baseball games, and good connections with my people...

But I feel like I got caught up in a riptide of activity and this morning my soul feels malnourished...

My family is doing well, but as a mother we can always tell when there are needs to be met and it hurts to see anyone in our family struggling...

We are encouraged as Christians to come to the feet of Jesus and lay down all of our burdens and to trust in him to take care of the things that we just cannot take care of right now...

Sometimes as a working mother, I don't feel ready to start my workday on Monday. I feel like there are a lot of loose ends that I would like to see tied. Some things I need to attend to and other things I need to let go of.

My brain is filled with thoughts such as this – "Why is my three-year-old acting up so much? Is it because I'm not giving him enough attention?, My husband seems really tired and a bit distant, what can I do to draw closer to him?, I have reports to write today but I am having such a hard time concentrating... I need to be more productive, we need to get groceries, I think my dog might have fleas again, I need a haircut, I'm nervous about teaching Bible study tomorrow night,…"

My take charge personality wants to make a list of each and every one of those things and create a plan of attack. God has wired me this way, and most of the time, it is a good thing.

But on a Monday morning, as a working mother, I cannot physically, emotionally, and spiritually attack and handle all of these things.

It's not my job, I need to ask God to show me what to do in this moment. Sometimes that is really frustrating for me. I want to fix things, I want things run smoothly, I want everyone to be happy...

Sometimes I feel like I'm walking around the mountain and circling the same issues over and over again and this seems to happen to me a lot on  Monday mornings.

So there really is no major point to this blog post other than that, it's Monday morning, I know I'm not the only mom out there circling this mountain.  

Would love to connect with some other moms today.
Leave a comment below and a word of encouragement.
I know I can use one and I'm sure there are other mothers out there who could as well!
Lots of love.

Liz

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

8 Things I Have Learned this Year About Marriage

I have had a few requests for a post about marriage.

 I haven't touched this topic for many reasons but none of them are good ones.

I don't have the perfect marriage-not that one exists anyways! 

My husband and I are both Christians, but we definitely struggle.
We have different ways of expressing our faith, we have different ways of communicating, we have different ways of planning and scheduling, we have different ideas of what is fun and what is not, we have different ways of putting the toilet paper on the roll! (ha)

Throw in the mix a three-year-old and a seven-year-old, a very high energy dog, full-time work for both of us and lots of sports practices and we have many ugly moments in our home.

As I prayed about this post I recognized that I actually have come a long way in the past year or so and how I handle marriage problems.
God is so good to point this out to me!
So God gave me the confidence to share with all of you. 
  
Marriage is hard.
There are so many reasons why.
As a woman who works outside the home, working can impact marriage big time.
But working outside the home is not the root of our marriage problems.
The root of our marriage problems always is sin.

Many women who work outside the home feel that they don't have enough time to nurture their marriages.
Many women who stay at home feel that they don't have enough time to nurture their marriages.

Many women who work outside the home feel that their children's needs drain them so much that they don't have anything left for their spouses.
And yes you guessed it, stay at home mothers feel the same way.

At the end of a working day, we are left with only so much time to connect with our spouses and nurture our marriage.

Again- whenever there is conflict in marriage, the root of the problem is always sin. My sin, his sin, my children's sin. All of it. Yes, sometimes there are things that need to change and adjustments need to be made. But ultimately, sin is our enemy.

If you're experiencing conflict in your marriage, I can assure you – you are not alone. There is nothing new under the sun, and your issues and struggles with your spouse are not a surprise to God...

So here are the main things I have learned over the past year:

1. I need to approach my husband in humility, respect and love. If I cannot do this, then I need to remain silent and wait for the right time. If I have to remove myself from the situation in order to stick with this principle, then I need to remove myself from the situation.

2. I need to appreciate and verbally praise what I see my spouse doing for my family on a daily basis. I especially needs to do this in front of my children. Speaking words of life into my home is one of the most powerful things I can do for my marriage.

3. I need to check my perspective before banking my emotions on it. Just because I have a certain perspective on a conflict, does not mean that is the correct perspective. Many times, the way I see things are very different than the way my husband sees things. Before I attach great emotion to what may be happening within a conflict, I need to ask God to give me a healthy perspective.

4.  It is not my job to change my spouse. Everyone is more content when I remember that it is not my job to change my spouse, convince him, or to control him. I can be true to myself and to my wants and desires and then leave the results to the Holy Spirit.

5. Conflict in marriage is often a powerful tool that God will use to draw me closer to Him-keeping me on my knees and increasing my dependence upon Him...

6. There are many needs that I have that my husband cannot meet. I need to identify those needs and be proactive in seeking out ways to get them met. For example – I need to feel understood as a woman and as a mother. If I expect this from my husband, I will always be disappointed. I have to arrange monthly coffee dates with friends.

7.  I need to believe and have hope in God's best for my marriage, while at the same time, leaning on the promise that when I feel something lacking, that God will give me what I need in each day. He will always be enough.

8. I need to remember that there is always a bigger picture. When I look back upon difficult moments in my marriage, I can see how God worked. I can see how I have grown and I can see how my husband has grown. This gives me hope and perspective.

I hope that some of these things have encouraged and helped you!

Let me know what you think! Are you struggling in your marriage? Can you apply one of these eight lessons I have learned? What happens when you do?

I recently found an amazing resource online that I will share with you:
From: www.unveiledwife.com

Friday, August 14, 2015

Roots, New Life and Renewed Hope

Well I had just about had enough.
We were on vacation and it had just been one of those days.
My kids were overtired and overstimulated.

My husband even had to take a break, heading into town for some groceries, which turned into a four hour escape from the craziness in our little cabin. We joked with him later on, that we would have to hide his keys next time :-)

My seven-year-old had a total meltdown when his little brother was given a promised red popsicle that I was not aware of, that was promised the day before by his Grandpa. There was nothing I could do to get him to calm down and I was just beyond frustrated.

I went outside and sat on the front porch of the cabin in a rocking chair for about 45 minutes and had some major mommy quiet time.

Later that afternoon I decided to take a hike by myself and I asked God to show me something as I was feeling a bit disconnected from Him and feeling like pretty much a big fat failure for the day.

As I hiked I found what appeared to be a dead tree.
Obviously knocked down by a storm.

 
It didn't look like much, but for some reason I stopped and stared at it for a while.

And the more I looked, the more I saw. I was amazed that among the dead-ness of the tree, that there were bright green leaves sprouting out from a certain point on the tree.


I stared at it for a while and thought about how it could be possible that this was growing from this dead tree. So I investigated some more and went down to look at the roots of the tree, which from my point of view looked as if they were totally ripped out of the ground.
But upon closer look, I saw something amazing –

There was one fairly large root still rooted into the ground.
 
I tried to pull at it and dig around it and it was very solid.
So I just sat there and looked at this for a while and the Lord really spoke to me.
 
He reminded me that even when things appear broken, knocked down, hopeless and even dead –that if, there is one strong root connected to LIFE, that new life can still grow.
 
He reminded me that although that morning had felt like a big hot mess in my family, that because I was still rooted in Christ Jesus – that he would bring new life into my family.
I looked at this root, and it gave me hope.
 
As working moms, stay-at-home moms, homeschool moms, single moms, a mixture of all of the above moms- we have moments throughout the day that can leave us feeling pretty much beaten down, knocked over  and all dried up just like this tree – moments when we are tempted to reflect on our present situation and to see a lot of brokenness and mess.
 
I want to encourage you – just as the Holy Spirit did me –
 
If you remain rooted in Him- He will bring new life into even the most hopeless looking situations.
 
Colossians 2:6-7 states- "Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude."
 
John 15:5  states- “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."
 
No matter what is going on in your life right now, continue to abide in Him and he will bring new life into those dead places within yourself and your sweet family!
 
If you feel discouraged this week, be sure to remember that things are not always as they appear. Take some time to look closer at what God is up to and ask him to show you where that new life is growing when you can't see it for yourself.
 
 


Thursday, August 13, 2015

My Rambling About Words

Ever since I was a little girl I have always been in love with blank paper. How weird am I?


I have  also loved journals- filling them up was a thrill to me.

I love taking the thoughts in my head and seeing them on paper. For some reason, this act always calmed me. When I would fill up a journal- it was such a sense of satisfaction to me. I don't really know why? 

Maybe just knowing that I had something to say made me feel important. 

I've always thought that people's words were important.

Proverbs 25:11
Like apples of gold in settings of silver, is a word spoken in right circumstances."
 
I love getting cards. I love buying cards for people.  
I could stand in the card aisle and read cards forever-looking for the perfect one for whom ever I was trying to express myself to. 

I love decorations that have words on them.  I recently printed out some Scripture prayers and put them all over my kitchen and they make me smile...  

I have also always loved the library. LOVED it. Perusing up and down the aisles and filling my little bag up with anywhere from 5-10 books/week was my delight. And then I would curl up and dive in- for hours.

I remember my favorites- Ramona, Sweet Valley High, Babysitters Club, Nancy Drew, and I always loved the Choose your Own Adventures books... Do you remember some of your favorites?

I said it before and I will say it again – your words, your story matters.
It matters for so many reasons, more than you can ever imagine. 
And not just the shiny parts matter, the dark, and, lonely places matter as well.    

When you share your story with the world, you have the opportunity to do a few things:

1. You get to bring God glory with your story as others see the hand of God moving in your life.

2.  You get to give the gift of "I've been there too" to someone who is walking a similar road as you.
  
My obsession with words has let me to blogging... 
It has also helped me love my job, where I get to write my client stories...

But the greatest gift of all is the living word-Jesus Christ.

John 1: 1-3, 14
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."

Hebrews 4:12
"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

It amazes me that Jesus is called the Word.  
He was there in the beginning.  
And then He became flesh.
He walked the path that we walk and He left behind His word – the Bible. The words in the Bible are no ordinary words – they are living and active!

We have the word living in our hearts when we accept Jesus into our hearts. How powerful is that!

So there you have it. My rambling about words. 
I love words.
I want to encourage you to share your words, your story with someone. 
You can share your story here-anytime.



When People Hurt You

...I started writing this post a couple weeks ago and had to take a break. I hope it encourages someone who is feeling hurt...

Sometimes people say words that really sting. Sometimes people ignore your needs, your feelings, and don't even seem to see you. Sometimes these are the people who are supposed to love you the best.

What do we do when people hurt us?  I'll tell you what I usually do- I shut down, I become passive aggressive, I hurt back. My defenses go up and my focus is on self protection.

One of the things I know for sure, is that God is pro-relationships. God wants our friendships, marriages, etc. to be positive, nurturing, and loving.

Another thing I know for sure, is that people are sinners. People struggle, they have bad days, they have bad weeks, months and years. And sometimes these are the people that we live with, work with, do ministry with. And yet – there is a purpose for these relationships that we have.

Additionally, people also come with their own "blueprint" for how to navigate relationships – and often times the blueprint contains a lot of lies and unhealthy ways of relating. Sometimes we can look back in a person's past see where the patterns were established. This perspective can often times give us grace and a bit more understanding.

Lastly- I know that my initial impressions and hurt feelings cannot be my guide to how I react to the person who has hurt me. They really cannot. Easy for me to say, hard for me to apply to my life. But I want to try. 

One thing I try to remember when I am hurt by one of my main people, is that there is nothing more that Satan loves than to divide. 

So my focus needs to be on uniting.

No matter what the other person's response, no matter how I feel,  I need to remember what my focus is – to stay on the same side, remain on the same team, and to link arms-at least in prayer- if anywhere else, with the person who has hurt me. The only way, is through forgiveness.

A really cool thing about God is that he can take a small offering and make it huge.

 He can take my small amount of forgiveness and if I offer it to him in obedience and humility, He can make it enough. 

The other thing He can do- is use my moment of pain to draw me closer to Himself.

I was feeling hurt the other day, and a song came on the radio – the same song came on the day before, I sang it, but the words did not resonate with my heart. The day that I heard it after being hurt, my heart grabbed a hold of every word and I sang them in total worship.

When people hurt us, is no fun. But I have also learned that God is able to take those moments and bring about some of His glory.  And when I am in this moments of hurt, all I need is a little glimpse of what He is up to that I can hold onto the hope that it is not in vain.
                

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Do Something that Unless God Shows Up, You will Fail

Sitting, waiting, what's next God?
Do Something that Unless God Shows Up, You will Fail
 
Say what??? I don't know if you took a look at that title and had the same reaction I had when my Pastor said this on Sunday...
Can I be honest? I kind of get annoyed by radical preaching at times because I think to myself- "this does not apply to me'". I'm not going to Africa tomorrow to save orphans, I can't sell all of my stuff and just live in a shack and see what God does, that is not my calling. I am a Working Mom, I have bills, I am not very adventurous and I like control. COME ON GOD- are you really talking to me?

Taking risks is not my thing- nope, nada, zip- want NOTHING to do with it.

I like comfort, predictability and I want my "t's" crossed and all my "i's" dotted before I make ANY big decisions.

What is that phrase- "if you always do, what you've always done, then you'll always get what you've always gotten..."
I don't like that phrase EITHER. But it chirps into my mind every single time I start to feel STUCK.

You know that feeling- like things are comfortable, but there is no growth, nothing deep inside that is blooming. I know that we are called to grow in our faith, but I think that sometimes I'd rather spend time trying not to grow because it feels safe. Such a lie. As I work on staying safe, noticed I said- "work" (because it takes effort, it I exhausting), I feel more anxious, I feel restless and needy, I feel unsettled...

So I have to ask myself- what needs to change? And then I hear my Pastor say- think of something-that UNLESS God shows up, you will fail (be embarrassed, lose, etc...) and then do it.

I met with a dear friend that same night who asked me a hard question about a big decision I have been pondering-
"What is motivating you to hold back Liz? Is it fear or faith?"
My answer: TOTALLY FEAR.

Taking a step of faith is really hard but I need to do it if I want to grow. I have learned that this year more than any other year of my life. I have been doing scary things and have been surviving and then surprisingly thriving (yes-I must have assumed doom and gloom, right? of COURSE I am thriving because God is SO awesome when we will just do what He asks of us) because of my steps of obedience. 

First it was organizing an event at my new church, then another event, then another, (I survived one, so I kept going! ha!), then it was starting a Bible Study, then it was expanding this blog.

And I will tell you as a seriously wimpy Jesus-girl at times-
God. Showed.Up. Every. Single.Time.

Like a Daddy giving his little girl a push towards jumping off that diving board, he got me moving and then...
 I jumped and felt the rush of the water all around me, came up for air and wanted MORE!

However, with each new step- the "fear factor" is still there and my "safety nets" become smaller and less sturdy.

I don't believe God calls us to total abandonment of all sense...or does he? In some seasons, in some situations, in some choices?

And I know what your next question is because it was mine...
What if I fail?
What if God does not show up? 

All I can say is this- failure is better than STUCK and God ALWAYS shows up, even if it is in helping you get back up stronger and more courageous-perhaps because He has something even bigger in store and is waiting for you to show Him your willingness (like the high dive!). 

I don't know where you are at sweet friends...


Go for it girl!
Maybe, like me, there are some dreams or adventures God has been stirring in your souls that maybe scare you half to death but at the same time make your heart pound for the first time in a long time?




I want to encourage you to ask God-

"...is this a time for total abandonment?" And then find that one thing that unless God shows up, you may indeed face failure...and do it."  And then tell me about it!!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Perspective and Peace for the Working Mother



These are 5 Things Time Has Taught Me:

1.) TAKE A DEEP BREATH. This one skill is 90% of parenting.
The hard times and the bad decisions- most of them- are not life threatening.                                                                   
Many of the beautiful, mundane, glorious, nuanced, obvious things of life should be savored by breathing them in. In the good and in the bad, take a deep breath.

2.) COUNT THE BLESSINGS. When a precious friend woke up Easter morning to discover her three year old had died in the night for no apparent reason,  I was at a loss for words. The worst possible thing was-Now. Here. Today. She began, instinctively, to count her gifts. The birds outside the window. A beautiful sunrise. A gift from a good friend.
Whether you are in the worst possible place and need to get through, or the best possible place and need to remember, count your blessings.
It will change who you are in the very best of ways.

3.) GET OVER IT. Life is not fair. Kids will misbehave. Spouses will be certain they know every single thing about every single thing. Money will vanish into thin air. Piles of clutter will mount.
But through it all God is good and forgiveness is a balm to a wounded soul.

I see so many people stuck in the cemented conviction of the lack of willingness to just Let. It. Go. You will always be better for forgiving. Always.

4.) LEARN A NEW WAY. A motivational tape I listened to decades ago said, “You have, right now, exactly what you want.” I didn’t really get it. Since then I have figured out it is another way of saying what matters gets done, what doesn’t gets excuses.
Maintaining a death grip on the way you have always done things might not kill you physically, but I have seen time and time again relationships suffocate, dreams wither, and beliefs shrivel unnecessarily when there are solutions and change waiting.

All you need to do is bring willingness to the table to collaborate with a better way.
5.) SURROUND YOURSELF. With people who are better than you at some things; who believe in you emphatically; who laugh at themselves and help you to laugh at you; who want–desperately–to do life with Jesus, family and the world well; WHO DON’T BELIEVE IN PERFECTION, except at the Cross.

Start today to sow seeds of growth, connection and triumph. Surround yourself with people who are doing the very same thing.

God is good. Motherhood is good. Life is good.

More about Robin: 
Check out this amazing ministry-Brighten a Corner
I am still not sure if it was God’s voice or indigestion.

Nearly 13 years ago I went to a Women’s Ministry conference, had some pizza for lunch, and thought God was telling me to start a ministry. So I did...
All these years later Brighten A Corner, which is a mini Extreme Home Makeover, is still around doing our thing. We have completed dozens of projects, used hundreds of volunteers and have a total value of service approaching $2,000,000.

God continues to takes my breath away.

I laugh, fully aware of the fact that I am wholly unequipped to do what I do.
The only thing that I have going for me is tremendous faith, mixed with (now) years of experience, and the ability to convince an incredible team of people to join in.
Through it all, the madness of ministry, the mundaneness of motherhood and challenging family issues- including (but not limited to)-a child with special needs, a son who went to war on the other side of the world, a mother in law with dementia, a father in law with Alzheimer’s, an exhaustingly unstable income and a feisty personality...I have learned several things to share with you about motherhood and I hope that they have given you perspective and peace as a Working Mom.



Robin is the wife of a manufactured home selling, airplane part inventing man who keeps her in stitches and mom to three precious kids who keep her on her knees.
She loves planning ministry projects other people think are crazy and teaching weekly Bible Study at a local restaurant that serves the world’s best pastrami sandwiches. In her spare time you will often find her volunteering at her kids’ school, watching 80’s TV on DVD, and unsuccessfully trying to get organized. In real life, she is mostly a mom, a terrible house keeper, mediocre home-schooler AND a fabulous cheer leader.
You can find Robin blogging at: Robin's Corner.