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... 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Treasures, Priorities and Clearing out the Chaos


 
Can I really be a successful working mom? Can I experience success at work and also at home?
This is a question that I ask myself all of the time.

Last week, at a training that I went to, a light bulb went off that I hope will help me get close to a loud, clear, “YES!”

I work for the federal government and it is no secret that budgets are getting tighter.
As a result, one of the topics that was discussed at my training was regarding which services could be lessened or even cut.  For those people who provide those services and can see the clear value, it is can be a hard topic.

To help everyone to be more objective,the conversation was turned around to, instead, creating a list of priorities.

As I listened to the conversation, it dawned on me that it is often hard for me to succeed because I value too many things and have not created my own priorities. 

For example, is it really important to make a Pinterest-worthy cake, or is it enough to have a birthday celebration with the people that love my kids in a simple manner? 

Does my child care about the fancy cake?

If so, should I turn that focus elsewhere or is it okay since it is a special time?

Is taking the time to make that cake taking away from time that I could be spending with my children or am I able to work it in late at night? 

These are the types of things that I think I should be considering.
As I thought about it, I realized that I have a tough time cutting things out.

However, I feel more comfortable if I just put focus on the things that seem to rise to top of the list.

That way, I do not have to officially label anything as unimportant.

Does anyone else struggle with emotional hoarding?

I could probably write 10 blog posts about that.

Anyway back to the topic at hand. How do we create these priorities?

Well, as I do with all things that I find challenging, I asked God.

This time, I turned to the bible where I found that Luke 12:34  says-
"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."Wow!

Over the next few weeks, I plan to really evaluate where to put my treasure to get my heart where it should be. 
What seems obvious to me at this point is that I need to simplify. 

If I compare my treasures to money, I think too often I try to find $100 bills. 

If I simplify and just make my goals $1 or $10, I think I will find they add up to $100 much faster than I would have ever been able to find that $100 bill! 

I also know that if I limit my focus to my top priorities that my heart will get to be where it needs to be. 
I do not think there is anything wrong with doing some extra things like fancy cakes.  I think problems arise when we put those things that should be extras above the things that should be our priorities.
Please say a prayer that I am able to set my priorities where they should be to help clear some of the chaos from my heart, mind and home. I will say a prayer for you that you are able to find your successes, as well.

How do you go about setting your priorities? Please share!

Bio:

Aimee does financial and asset oversight for a military housing project.  She is a wife to a medically retired police officer and mother of 2.  She treasures her roles as a mom, a wife, and a sister, a daughter, a friend, an aunt, a Godmother and a coworker.  Aimee writes a blog about parenting, family, food and whatever else crosses her scattered brain.  www.crazyblessedmomma.blogspot.com
 
If you are looking for a fabulous resource to help you create priorities and live them out- check out Thrive by Teri Johnson.
She is offering an amazing deal right now- you pick your price for the product and she will honor that.
Click on the below link to find out more:

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

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Two Things Your can do to Function Better TODAY


 
By: Cort Hoek

1. Rest in God:
Matthew 11:28:  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

There are many days I am weary and burdened with all that is going on in my world-
It is hard to watch the world crumbling around the people you love especially when you have no control over the situation. 

...I have a close friend whose marriage is falling apart, another close friend whose parent is dying, and then I have a few friends making poor choices in their relationships. 

...In my personal life-I am trying to manage a new work position while being a mom of a child who seems to always get sick and the list can go on and on. 
Being a young working mom-

...there are times I feel like a supermom where I get the cards of encouragement written off, the meals made and the house cleaned...
...then, more often than not, there are times I feel like a super failure...

...I made a mistake at work or didn’t get that meal made to the mom of the sick child in my Sunday School class and trust me this list can go on and on too...

It is in these moments I need to remember Matthew 11:28 and go curl up on the couch with my Bible to get the rest I truly need.

I am so thankful I have a God who wants to take these burdens from me and lighten my load so I can function better. 

The more you depend on God the better you function.  It amazes me how taking some time to depend on God and give him my burdens really refreshes me.  If you feel like the world is crumbling around you please don’t run yourself weary, lean on Him for the rest you need.

2. Reach Out...
For a few years now my husband and I have tried to get involved in our community to get to know our neighbors. We haven’t really succeeded in building strong relationships with those in the community but we have gotten to know quite a few people. 

We believe it is very important to be involved in your community and shine for Christ because if you don’t know your neighbors or your co-workers- then you won’t know how to help them... when they lose their job... or are going through a hard time, etc...  

We are so engrossed in our own lives and schedules that we sometimes overlook the needs that are right in front of us.

I want to encourage you- if you need to function better-to feel better- to LIVE better-step outside your driveway or cubicle at work and get to know those around you.

You don’t need to invite them to the revival at church or a Bible Study but what you do need to do is build a relationship with them and show them Christ’s love through your life.

Maybe it is having a coffee social or starting a walking group or a scrapbooking club. 
The list of things you can do to connect with those in your neighborhood or at work can be long.

I want to share three examples some people I know have done to reach outside their four walls:
  • A good friend of mine has a neighbor with four kids.  When she has too many leftovers she goes over to the house next door and offers them to the family. She says she can’t believe how many times the kids have said, “Mom how did she know we need food?”
The mother has responded that, “She talks to God that’s how she knows.”
  • My mother recently had a Get Acquainted Breakfast with her neighbors.  Many of the women are new on the block and did not know each other.
They loved the breakfast so much they started making plans for a Christmas Party and Block Party.
  • Last, Mary Whelchel- from The Christian Working Woman has talked about a friend of hers that invited co-workers to go out to lunch with her. She would ask a different one each week.
Through this she was able to get to know them-really know them and connect with them. Turns out, they were different than she thought. Funny how our natural judgments about people are often so faulty. 

What a great opportunity we have before us to shine bright to those who are hurting in our workplace and neighborhood. 
Rest in God and Reach Out to Others- two ways to function better!

I’d love to hear any ideas on how you rest when feeling overwhelmed AND on anything you have done at work or at home to get to know those outside your four walls!

Courtney Hoek lives just outside of Chicago in the western suburbs with her wonderful husband and amazing daughters.  She works for The Christian Working Woman and loves her job!  Her work experience ranges from TV and Radio to working for a University.  Working for a non-profit has been a wonderful experience and she loves that her job helps encourage so many people.