Thursday, December 15, 2016

Moments of Redemption

It was a similar conversation/argument...

Me: "Lincoln- it's time to turn off the TV and get ready for church." (I'm already bracing myself for the talking back- which has become a norm lately with my 8 year old son.)

Lincoln: "In a minute Mom. Why NOW? We have time."(Thinking to myself- "stay calm Liz, ask him one more time, nicely...")

Me: "Lincoln- I am asking you to do it now, no arguing please."

Lincoln: "But Mom- I just started watching this show! You NEVER let me do ANYTHING that I want to do." (Thinking to myself- "This kid is SO dramatic. He has no respect. I am so sick of this. Why won't he just listen and do what he is asked to do?!.")

Me: Screaming now- "Lincoln, you will turn off the TV, get dressed NOW and I am SO sick of your attitude. Now STOP IT!"

Lincoln: stomps off, PUSHES through me and says- "I'm so sick of you!"

Me: Anger turning to shock- Thinking to myself-

"My son just PUSHED me. How is this happening? Why is this happening? What did I do wrong? I am a HORRIBLE mother! It has to be my fault that he is doing this."

We go to church. My son sulks in his seat in front of everyone. Also tells me he feels sick (which is actually true- we had a stomach bug running rampant in my home). So,I take him home (we live like 2 minutes from church). And I sit in the service and don't even feel worthy to be one of the leaders (I am the Women's Ministry leader).

If only everyone here had been a fly on my wall and seen what just happened in my home?

I numbly go through the motions of worship, smile politely towards people and get myself home.

I stand in the kitchen and ask myself how to handle what had happened that morning?

I prayed and then I started baking cookies.

Our Pastor had encouraged us to give out bags inviting people to church-

I took three home with me and thought that maybe we could hand them out with some cookies.

My son is still sulking but soon he gets involved in playing.

I hear his soft voice, sharing nicely with his brother, I see him smiling, and he tells me he can't wait til I'm done so he can decorate the cookies.

We take some to neighbors and it is wonderful.

We sit and talk with them and we enjoy a nice afternoon together.

Later that night, I am cleaning out a closet and I find something.

It is a poem that someone gave to me when I was pregnant with Lincoln. I read it and think.

The poem is the word Lincoln written vertically and has a statement next to each letter about how I am to act in order to help my son become the man of God he is called to be.

I showed it to Lincoln.

I told him that I loved him and would always be praying for him and that I had found this poem and will keep it out to remind me.

I took a picture of him with the poem and his sweet face just melted my heart.

We talked about what happened, he did get punished and he was not happy about the punishment.

But he softened and it was just a good, God-moment I wanted to share with all of you.

I am so thankful that I serve a God that gives me grace and redeems some of the most difficult and most ugly moments.

Being a Mama is so hard sometimes but it is always worth it:

Blessings!

Liz


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Made Perfect in Weakness- Best News Ever

Let me tell you something, I can be ugly.
This is no shocker to my husband who has more than a gazillion times heard that tone of criticism in my voice or sat back to observe me manipulate a situation to make myself look better and look "right".

There are so many moments throughout my weeks where I sincerely do not like myself.

I don't like my tone.
I don't like my "hurry up and go" attitude.
I don't like this battle I have with wanting to eat more than I should.
I don't like feeling like I'm not always a woman of my word- saying- "Yes" to this and "Absolutely" to that and then forgetting where to go and what commitments I have made.
I don't like wondering if my children feel loved and whether or not I am enough for my husband.
My work gets skimped over some weeks because my heart is simply stuck in a place of worry or anxiety and I cannot focus.
This is my life, and although this ugliness is heavy and hard and frustrating to me, I have learned the peace that comes in admitting that I am a failure and that I am weak.

I have learned so much over these past months since I not-purposefully took a break from the blog.
I have learned that I am more than enough and more than I ever thought I could be as a Mom, Wife, Ministry leader, Worker, etc.. while simultaneously learning that I am so much less than I ever thought I could be in all of those same areas.

How is that even possible you might wonder?

I don't know if I can eloquently explain it all but here goes some good truths I think are worthy of framing and highlighting and somehow maybe sitting with for awhile if you need them...

I can take all of these failures, admit them and find what I need to overcome them in God.

Because God is the perfect forgiver, when I am ugly, I can find forgiveness in Him.

I have alot of links in this post and I want to encourage you to check them all out. I love it when I can find all I need in Word of God and I want to prove it to you by supporting all of these things I am saying with God's Word.

When I fail as a wife to love my husband the way I need to, because God is the definition of love Himself, I can ask Him to teach me.

Because God's Word is the perfect and total truth, there is nothing I cannot find help for by reading it, studying it and making it my life's passion.

When I am rushing and anxious, I can remember to seek first His kingdom and all that I need will be added unto me. I don't need to add to my life, I need to seek Him FIRST and then HE will add to my life.

Because God says that man does not live on bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God and that I am to hunger and thirst for righteousness and I will be filled!  I can turn away from indulging my flesh and ask instead that God help me to crave Him and find fulfillment in Him.

When I am over-scheduling myself and saying "yes" to too many people, I can remember that the most important YES I need to say is to that time in the early morning, or in my car, or on my lunch break or when I wake up in the middle of the night when God gives me space to connect with Him, to pray and to cry out. No other "Yes" is more important. I can remember that all of His promises to me are "Yes" and "Amen" and that He will always keep His promise.

Because God has chosen ME to parent my children certainly I can trust that He will equip me to be a good mother as long as I keep being willing to admit that I need Him to help me parent these precious kiddos. He was there when they were formed, there is no mistake that these children are meant for me.

When I wonder if I am enough for my husband, I can breathe a sigh of relief because no human being is EVER enough for another and I can simply ask God to get between us and be that third cord that keeps us knotted together in Christ.

Because God has got the entire, gigantic universe in His hands, I can stop and be present in each moment of my day, before work, during work, after work and in the roles I play as wife, working, mother, ministry leader and I can do all unto Him and for His glory. He is Almighty, I can rest in each moment because He is faithful to keep the world spinning. 

In Him and because of Him, I can be more than I ever thought I could be and in my flesh I can be just as much a failure and a disaster in all those areas just as easy when I turn my eyes away from my Savior.

This process, this sanctification is no joke, it is a daily battle and I don't care who you are or what your life looks like from the outside, we are all knee deep in it. If we are not knee deep in it, then we are probably not being honest with ourselves.

The amazing thing is that although I find myself bouncing back and forth within these two extremes throughout my week, I find myself doing is LESS, I find myself moving back to Him FASTER, I even find myself stopping and pausing when I am tinkering on the edge of relying in my self instead of Him and running straight back to Him before taking the plunge.  I am remembering that He is the one who promises to meet my needs. 

Knowing who God is and Knowing that my purpose is to bring Him glory, I can be honest with myself and others in admitting that it is a struggle but that when I am letting Him lead, holy cow is it an amazingly victorious and overcoming ride.

I am capable of conquering my sin in the name of Christ every day in my weakness.
I am capable of being a loving and gracious wife and mother in my weakness.
I am capable of working my job and honoring God in my work in my weakness.
I am capable of leading women in their walk with the Lord in my weakness.

His power is made perfect, when I am weakest. 

When I can admit that I have reached the end of myself, that is where I find the power to be all that God has called me to be. And it is not a burdensome journey in the way that the weight of living for self and being enslaved to sin is. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. 

God's power, made perfect in weakness, that's the best news this Christian Working Mama has heard in a very long time.




Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Most Important Question I am Learning to Ask

Sidelines living...going through the motions...making it...surviving...holding on by a thread...

However you say it, we've all said it, sometimes we say it to each other and we laugh and we honestly just need the solidarity of knowing we are not alone in this day in and day out routine of working and mothering. 





We might feel like life has taken over and we are a bit fried and tired and DONE. So- we put on our comfy jeans, get some ice cream, meet a friend, read our favorite book, get our hair done and generally we find a way to get back to feeling full of life again...

But other times we say it so often to ourselves and to others that eventually there is an ache in our heart that cannot be ignored and a sort of desperate gripping that can only come from too long of worn out and empty and purposeless living.

No more Mama friends. Yes, we can be tired, feel overwhelmed, we got a lot going on! Everyone needs us, there are not enough hours in the day, we cannot keep up with the laundry, the kids are fighting, there is no "me" time and we just want to scream. But- we cannot lose sight of the glory of this life. Even in the midst of the chaos, the busy and the hard days grace is available and glory is a-knocking and God is HERE.




You don't have to clean it all up to find joy. You don't have to have A.B. and C. to have peace and freedom. I have been working FT, parenting two kiddos, supporting my husband's coaching and sports commitments, leading a Bible Study and I am thriving. Am I bragging? YES! But not about me, only about my amazing God. I am not thriving because I am an awesome time-manager, because I get up at 5am and workout and do my Bible Study for an hour everyday, or because I have a maid, a Nanny and a ton of resources.

I am thriving only because I have learned to ask God to show me HIS work in my life in the midst of it all. There was a time I was convinced that the only way I could live a fruitful, Spirit-filled life was to cut back my work hours or quit my job, get a gym membership, memorize Bible verses every week and A.B.C.D.... Of course there are always things we need to change and ways we need to grow and things we need to give up and people we need to say NO too; however- what I am learning is that I can find joy in this crazy working Mama life when I see God working.



When we see God working, we get excited, we have hope, we feel purposeful, we know were to focus, we know where to go, we know where to spend our time, we know what to let go of and what to run after. We are filled with praise and gratitude and humbled and in awe because God is working in our lives in spite of ourselves. He is showing up and doing what only He can do.







So ladies- may I challenge you today to ask God this question- "God what are you up to right now in my life? Help me to see it. Help me to name it. Help me to praise you for it. Help me to get excited about it. Help me to ground myself in the giddy hope of all that you are doing beneath the surface of the laundry and the deadlines, and the sports practices and the arguing and the sink full of dishes. Help me to see the hand of my Almighty God working and weaving and cultivating His glory and His spirit into my day to day. Lord- I long to see you in my life. Help me to see you. Make it clear and specific and help me to move into those moments and praise you with all that I have and be able to thrive in this working Mama life because of who YOU are."

2 Corinthians 9:8

"And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."

 

Liz 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Hardest Work in the World and yet...this...

Mothering...

It is truly is the hardest work I have ever been asked to do and although the rewards are greater than any paycheck I've ever received, the day in and day out job duties sometimes leave me flat out, burned out, cried out and just plain OUT of my mind. Most days if I am feeling burned out I can pinpoint where I lost my grip on truth, where I fed into some ugly lies about what I am supposed to be doing or how my mothering should look, or I see where I decided to deal with my ever-changing emotions with a bar of chocolate instead of bringing it to my God.

I can see the point where I spiraled a bit away from where I need to be. I am learning, some days I do better than others.

The hardest parts of my day are...well-every part... depending on my mood and how my kids are doing. Mornings I battle sleepy boys, one who does not want to eat breakfast EVER and is adjusting to preschool, the other tired from late night baseball and allergies that won't give up. Both boys taking out their grumpiness on each other while I look once again for jackets, shoes and papers that need to go to school.

Many mornings I forget whether or not I've taken a shower, sometimes I can't find clean clothes, sometimes I rush my boys and sometimes I am putting PB and J on the ends of the bread because I have not had time to go to the grocery store.

Afternoons I deal with the transition from working woman to Mommy and I sometimes think my head will explode with the noise after 8 hours of structured work, and other times I think my heart will explode as I watch my 8 year old tell me that he played with a new friend and then tells me that he loves me and asks if he can put my shoes away for me. I look at his eyes, his long lashes and sweet baby boy lips and hear him saying the Pledge of Allegiance as he plays and I have that sweet hurt of loving that he is growing and wanting to stop time completely. Then I have his big brother, ready to explode from jealousy over a friend getting more toys than he has and I explain about counting our blessings. He snaps at me and 10 minutes later tackles me in a bear hug, talking non-stop about the new boy in school and how he decided he wanted to make him feel welcome so he decided to play with him the entire time at recess. And again- heart about to explode...going from seeing him deal with frustration and hearing how God is working in his life.

Some nights, my boys don't go to sleep until 10pm because that hour and a half where Mommy is finally calming down is the sweetest time and it fills their little love bank up. This is when baseball is over, some days we choose a washcloth bath over a shower to save time, everyone wants to eat AGAIN, paperwork is being sorted through for school and I am snuggling up for some precious time with hubby while the boys play upstairs. We catch up on things, laugh at the boys, sometimes argue, most of the time, we just make sure the other is still in one piece:) This is some sweet time for us...

Then I wander upstairs, tripping over towels, toys and every item of clothing that has been worn that day that of course is inside out on the floor. Sometimes I get irritated, other times we read, sometimes we snap at each other AGAIN. But always we end with love.  I take a "potty break" and breathe in the quiet for those few seconds and sometimes I wonder if I am doing this whole mothering gig right and I ask God to help me.  Then, I have these moments that truly, truly keep me going- right after prayer time, I am amazed as my 8 year old asks me to play "Come Though Fount of Every Blessing" on Youtube on my phone and mentions what the worship leader said last Sunday about the part- "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love." And we talk about how we wander away from God a lot.

And I remember...the next part of the song and together we tell the Lord at the end of the craziness- "Here is my heart, Lord, take and seal it, seal it for the courts above." And I know that I know that I know, that God is meeting me in my working mama life in ways unexpected and I can breathe deep and relax and hug my boys tightly and see the peace in their eyes and know all is well...

Liz

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Many Faces of Motherhood

Brandy Hynes
I am so excited to be sharing about my journey with motherhood with a new friend- Brandy Hynes.  Brandy is a mother whose life, on the surface seems much different than mine.   Mother of six, homeschooler, living in Hawaii!  But we have made a strong connection through an amazing blog/community called Me Too Moments for Moms. 

This is a blog that has a wide variety of contributors- of course all mothers, sharing about their ups and downs and in-between moments and reading these posts is like breathing a breathe of fresh air. Hearing those words- "Me Too"- is there anything more needed most days as a mother? Brandy invited me to post in a series with three other women.  Ladies- we are stronger together- believe than and don't hold back from connecting with mothers everywhere you go. We may have different paths on this journey, but what we have in common is most important- seeking God's call and leading our children to Christ.

Here is her introduction to the series:

"Motherhood has a way of finding us in places we never thought we’d be. It sneaks into the weakest parts of our being and strangles truths that had somehow always gone unnoticed. It has us bursting for joy and wiping away tears from one moment to the next. It is perhaps the greatest appointment we will ever know and yet, it leaves our souls aching…wondering who we were before, who will be later, how we will balance it all."
 Here is the rest of The Many Faces of Motherhood-part 1.

And here is my part!

My journey as a mother is not unlike most I’m sure. It consisted of a series of stumbling, falling, getting up again, dancing, soaring, running and crying on my knees moments. I wish I could say that every move I made, I covered in prayer, sought out the best support and advice and stayed consistent in my own relationship with the Lord throughout, but that would be misleading. 




I found that the Lord found me unprepared and needy and pulled me up, nurtured me and taught me along the way, as so often He does whenever we do anything new!

Becoming a mother awakened things within my soul that I did not know were even there. Growing up in a loving, but broken family, I had much to learn about navigating the role of being a mother. My own mother provided me with an excellent example and the things I took from her continue on to this day- knowing my children, providing for their needs, giving them opportunities to grow, giving them choices, paying attention to their feelings and opinions, and more.

My sister in law told me once that when you become a mother you also begin to grieve a loss- that loss is of your identity as a child yourself. You have to move away from being needy of parenting as you become  one doing the parenting yourself. Not that you don’t need your parents, but it is different. When you become a mother you are now always thinking about yourself AND your child. There is something so terrifyingly beautiful about having a person grow within your body, giving birth and then being responsible for another life. It is enough to shake you to the core.

To read the rest-
The Many Faces of Mothering Part 2



Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Needed: Girlfriends that Know my Heart


So I have to be real – I always try to be, when my heart starts to beat and the heaviness comes in my soul – I pay attention nowadays and ask God to show me what is up with me.

The truth is that I am finding myself feeling rather lonely throughout this season of my life. I think a lot of mothers feel this way. Lives become very consumed with children, household responsibilities, working, etc. All of those things are good things and they are part of our calling and responsibilities – but I think we need to pay more attention to the need that we all have for friends who really know our souls.

I can say honestly the right now I have one. We see each other maybe once a month – maybe every other month.  I don't have to keep up a smiley face for her, I'm allowed to whine, to complain about things to talk about irritations, sadness and frustrations – she doesn't give me advice, or qualify/disqualify things I'm saying, most often she just sits her coffee, nods her head and says, "me too".

Women need other women.  We don't just need women as mere acquaintances, we need women with that we can cry with, we need women who don't care if we're in a bad mood, we need women who welcome us into their hearts. It's not easy to do this. I have to admit that from time to time I tried to get closer to certain women in my life and pretty soon I find out that the depth of our friendship is only going to go so far. And I respect that because everyone is at a different place. The main reason that women don't trust other women is because they've been hurt by other women. But I think the real lie is feeling that keeping up walls and boundaries somehow keep us safe. I find that they keep me pretty lonely.

Some days I'd rather feel hurt and then work through a difficult issue with a friend, then feel nothing and not have a friend to work out difficult issues with. I need some more soul friends, heart sisters... So I'm praying that not only will God bring some of these ladies in my life, but that I would become one. Sometimes we need to make the first step. I work full time, I lead a weekly women's Bible study, I have two boys in baseball and a husband who runs a Little League – I have 1 million reasons why don't have time to sit down for a meaningful conversation with another female. But all of these reasons are total junk in light of the fact that the Lord has created me with a need for friendship, fellowship and communion with other women.

I don't know if there's anyone else out there struggling  with the same thing – but I just felt like I needed to put it out there. What can we do about this?  We need to open up, reach out, make space and take risks. This past Sunday at church I gave my testimony. It's been a long time since I've given my testimony. I've gotten to become a fairly comfortable speaker and there's been a good amount of time between my life now as a fairly strong Christian and my past hurts and struggles – I was fairly certain that I would be able to deliver a powerful spirit-filled testimony without cracking a tear.

But the truth is that – I was only a few words in and I started to cry.  It dawned on me today that a large reason that sharing my testimony filled me with so much emotion was the fact that it felt so good to be open, honest and intimate with others. I think my tears were related to my struggles and to the blessings of my testimony, but I think they also spoke very loudly about the simple fact that my heart is lonely for friendship, closeness with others.

Liz

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Finding Beauty in the Hard

Life is hard, sometimes it is so hard we cannot even breathe for the weight of it.  Sometimes hard is in the death of a loved one or the death of a dream or the death of a relationship. Sometimes hard is the day in and day out living with deadlines, tantrums, unmet expectations and feelings of inadequacy. Sometimes hard is disability, addiction, mental illness, and chronic pain.

Sometimes hard is feeling lost and alone in a sea of diapers, crying babies, monotony, loneliness, dishes and laundry. Sometimes hard is waiting for the letter to come that the adoption is finally settled. Sometimes hard is hearing once again that you have not been accepted for that job. Hard is real life stuff and it is all around us- in the people we know, the people we pass on the streets-the people that appear to be together and happy...

I think that sometimes as Christians, we get uncomfortable with the hard stuff of life. We don't want to talk about it. We don't want others to talk about it. We think it makes us "less than" or make us appear "weak in our faith".  We also let the hard stuff define us. We start to think we are useless to God, we don't volunteer, we stay isolated, we stick to what we know, we ignore the callings on our lives and we walk alone amidst a crowd of fellow wounded healers who don't even know we need them as much as they need us.

I am learning to find the beauty in the hard. I don't like it when life is hard, but I love the Jesus that meets me in the hard stuff. I love how He seemingly stops time to give me space to breathe in and out, to remember that I am alive, that blood is pumping through my veins and that this too shall pass. I love how He brings people and moments and lays them at my feet as if to say- "Look Liz! LOOK what I can do in the middle of this mess." I love how He whispers in my ear and into the depth of my soul- "You can take one step in front of the other Liz. You can go through this storm and I will show you how strong you can be as you lean on me." 

I love how I remember that it is good and okay to cry, to cry OUT and to cry for no apparent reason other than whatever is happening at the moment is not what I expected, what I wanted, what I thought was "the way it is supposed to be." I love how the place of disappointment reminds me that this world is not my home and then allows me and reminds me that I need my Savior Jesus Christ.
 
The Bible has SO much to say about suffering...it is just dripping with words that a suffering soul needs- beautiful words that heal, soothe and calm...
 
Matthew 5:4
4" Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
 
Psalm 119:50
"Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles."

Isaiah 61:3
"To grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified."

Beauty for ashes...We trade our sorrows and our ashes, leftover from a life of sin, burned in the pit of hell, and we take beauty...His beauty...We put it on, we wear it, we live it out loud, we let it shine from our souls and shout from our lips.

The hard stuff of life is nothing new to our Savior, who was mocked, betrayed, beaten, crucified on a cross for our sins.
 
Isaiah 53: 3-5
"He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed."

By His wounds, we are healed. He was despised, rejected, lived with sorrow and grief. He was alone. He was pierced, crushed and chastised. And by His wounds, we are healed.
 
Romans 10:8-10
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."

My prayer for all of you during this Easter season is that as you walk amidst the hard stuff in your life, that you will become acquainted with your wounded healer- Jesus Christ.
  

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Inspirational Moments in the Interrupted Life of a Mom

If I haven't said so before I'm going to say it many times throughout this blog post I think mothers are amazing. So often we forget all of the ways in which we surrender our  lives on a daily basis to our little people. I think that being a mother is one of the best gifts that the Lord can give this selfish, want my own way, introverted and hate to be interrupted, totally driven by being productive – kind of woman. I want to chat for a minute about interruptions...

My oldest son Lincoln,  who is now eight years old has perfected the art of interrupting my finely crafted plans for the day with his delightful hour long conversations about well- the extremely meaningful and minute details  of the day to day life of an eight-year-old boy.  Today he told me that he turned around and bumped into a little girl in line behind him in their lips touched.  He then wanted to talk about all the different ways you could make a square – all the different shapes possible. He asked me if I wanted him to teach me how to draw a cube.

Lincoln has also has become the expert at noticing when I am the busiest around the house and insisting that I must see what he is doing at the opposite corner of the house – typically involving doing some kind of stunt, a new Lego set up, or some kind of science experiment he has concocted in the bathroom sink. Today we spent about 20 minutes trying to get an old birthday balloon that had floated up to the top of our stairwell.

The process involved a hanger, a little boy on tiptoes and a mother about to have a heart attack. But apparently I was like a superhero once I actually got the balloon down.


I know he's my son, but I happen to think that he is the most exquisitely designed and the most beautiful work of art.  And all of those moments that at the time seem entirely out of my plans, uninspirational and lacking in agenda – are the moments worth recording, worth being interrupted  for and totally the stuff of motherhood that brings me the greatest joy.

The other day we were saying good night and I was praying and I said- "Lord God, please forgive me for not always being the best mom that I can be for these boys." And after the prayer was over – Lincoln said to me – "I don't know why you prayed that, you are always the best mommy for us. You play with us, you listen to us, you get us snacks even when you're tired, you think of fun ideas for things that we can do together, and you tell us about Jesus."

Benjamin is my four-year-old and still my baby. He carries around a Blankey like Linus- Who he lovingly calls – "Little Blanko." I think he is the cutest and most hilarious kid in the world. We were watching a YouTube video the other day of the Air Force parachute team singing Taylor Swift's  song "shake it off." He loved it and said the absolutely most funniest thing – there was a moment where the parachute team included to parachuters, one was on his knees and the other one was standing on top of the other one and they were of course floating in the air. He said to me – "mommy I will be the guy on top and you have to be the one on the bottom. OK?" This little guy somehow believes that is 38 year old mother is brave enough to jump out of a helicopter and perform stunts with him –hey, he believes in me! Good, good stuff.

Today I came home from work after struggling to get through the day with some type of a stomach bug. I honestly wanted nothing more than to lay on the couch and be left alone. My husband had a meeting to go to and as he left I wanted to cry. My boys paraded downstairs with shouts of – "Mommy– Lincoln threw up three times today!",  "Mommy-can you get me some applesauce?", "Mommy–come look at my new Lego creation!" At first I wanted to crawl into a hole, but instead – drink some ginger ale, ate a few crackers and dragged my body up the steps. I laid on my unmade bed – recently stripped due to all of the puking going on and my four-year-old thought it was funny to take pictures of me.  Then I told the boys it was time for Bible study. We found Jesus videos online talking about Easter. Those boys sat and watched the entire story from the Lord supper all the way until Jesus rose from the dead. Probably sat for about an hour. You can't tell me that was not a holy moment – right then and there.

 We will always have interrupted and inspirational moments as moms. Let's make sure we are always willing to be interrupted so that we don't miss out. Preaching to myself of course!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Finding Rest as a Christian Mama

Rest...seems like such an out of reach "thing" nowadays for most of us. Depending upon your work schedules, your personality-type, the size of your family and the level of activity your family participates in in the evenings/weekends, rest-just flat out, sometimes seems unrealistic...

Until- we think about what rest really means.

Yes, we need sleep, we cannot push ourselves physically, we are not called to and sleep is a huge part of rest ...

Psalm 127:2 (NLT)- "It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones."

Listen to this...

Matthew Henry's Commentary on Psalm 127:2...

...He gives his beloved sleep, that is, quietness and contentment of mind, and comfortable enjoyment of what is present and a comfortable expectation of what is to come. Our care must be to keep ourselves in the love of God, and then we may be easy whether we have little or much of this world.

It seems as if this commentary is saying that sleep/rest (which is of course physical and is necessary), is also other things...

~quietness and contentment of mind
~comfortable enjoyment of what is present
~comfortable expectation of what is to come
~keeping ourselves in the love of God

WOW....

I don't know about you- but when I read this, my entire soul just exhales...

I am busy like you...

I work FT outside the home, approximately 40 hours/week, I have two kids (boys- age 4 and 8), I lead a Bible Study one night/week at church, my older son is always in one sport and soon (Baseball Season!) both boys will be in one sport, my husband is a Little League Vice President and coach and therefore for I help him out as needed and I take on some duties as a coach's wife...you may be at home with a handful of kiddos – your work may look more like 15 hours a day –  loving on babies, homeschooling school age children, working from home, as I always say – all moms are working moms. And you may have a wide variety of hats that you wear in roles that you play that are different than mine.  I think we can all agree that all moms are busy and all moms need rest.

Believe me when I say that there are days I want to throw in the towel.

There are also seasons where I say no, where I take mental health days to recover from a hectic weekend, where I have my "back-up" teach Bible Study for me, I sleep in on Saturday and put out cereal and the remote for my boys,  and when I tell hubby he is on his own with the sports agenda for the weekend...it is necessary to know when you are too busy...very necessary...

But I think providing rest for ourselves can be done in many ways even amidst our busy lives- and I just LOVE what I read in this commentary...

I want to be quiet and content in my mind, to comfortable enjoy the present,  to comfortably look to the future for what is coming and to keep myself in the love of God...this reminds me so much of the word ABIDE...

John 15:4 (NASB)- "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me."

Keeping ourselves in the love of God, abiding in Him...

Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)- “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

The unforced rhythms of grace...oh my word- these words are so beautiful to me...

How do YOU find rest as a busy Mama? Comment below and share your ideas- practical ways, spiritual disciplines, weekly/monthly plans for self-care? Let's help each with this...

Liz

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sitting Beside, Walking with and Knowing each Other

So I am trying to work some things out in my head and heart- right now I am in a season of looking to the Lord for focus and minimalizing commitments, but also being open to new opportunities if He should bring them my way...

Priorities are hard at times for me...how do I know if my priorities are where they need to be? Do I look at my time, talents and treasure as the Christian church often indicates? Yes- this is a good indicator-but am I also looking to the Holy Spirit and to what is around me to see what is God up to and how can I be a part of it?

Christian formulas for kingdom living irk me. I find that when I follow them I become overly perfectionistic and legalistic- which is my bad and my misunderstanding of what they are intended for- I get that...

It is not black and white and it is not always brilliantly colorful and exciting to walk the Christian life...

I get that...some days I need to go through the motions of what I know is right, even if it feels dry and un-impactful.  And other days I need to open my heart to new ways and remember that God is way more creative than a step-by-step list on how to be a good Christian...

My friend Lisa Jo Baker welcomed me into her world as I shared with her some very hurtful comments from a blogpost I had shared last year trying to encourage working Moms. 

She welcomed me by allowing me to share with her my story.

And she took my story seriously and she opened my eyes to something new- a concept of loving your neighbor that goes beyond what I am used to... 

She applied this concept to Working Moms in a talk she gave on The New Identity of Motherhood...

She talked about a principle of loving your neighbor...

And I started to think about everything differently- she challenged us to know our neighbor, take responsibility for our neighbor and to care for our neighbor...

As I think about my priorities and my schedule and my formulas for a thriving Christian life as a Working Mom- can I just make it simple enough for today to just ask myself- am I loving my neighbor well?

Do I know the people in my life- yes, that includes even my spouse, my children? Am I trying to fit them into my agenda, my expectations, my hopes, my needs, or am I sitting beside them and KNOWING them?

Am I seeing their needs and their burdens and am I willing to take responsibility for my part in their day-to-day needs?

And am I willing to care for them? To stop, to pause and to see how the Lord would have me care...

Take this principle and apply it to the people I work with, the clients I serve, the strangers I pass by- oh my word- Lord! Help me to KNOW, take RESPONSIBILITY for and CARE- to be the hands and feet of Jesus...

In my family- what does this look like?

Giving up space and time to support my husband's passions...

Staying up til 11pm so that my 8 year old can tell me everything he knows about Legos and 2nd grade friendships...

Holding my three year old while dinner waits because that's all he needs right now...

Offering to watch the daughter of a single Mom friend I have because I know she is exhausted...

Instead of inviting someone to church, inviting them into my home first...

Yes we can still invite them to church, to Bible Study, tell them the steps to salvation.  But if we are not willing to walk with them in the everyday grit of life, how can we get to a place of being able to share the love of Christ? How can we get them to HEAR us?

We need to take each other seriously...we need to take the time to know each other. Lisa Jo took my story seriously and empowered me to do the same for others.

How can I know you?

How can you know the people in your life?

How can I be more responsible for you?

How can you be more responsible towards others in your life?

How can I care for you?

How can you care for the people in your life?

Love you!

Liz

 


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Angry Mamas and Gracious Kiddos

My son was showing me his Pokémon cards at bedtime.

He had them all spread out  on the bed and in "order".

He explained them to me- very proud.

He started to pick them up "in order" and his little brother (age 3), wanted to "help".

My son- exploded in anger at his brother- which he had done earlier on in the evening as well...and to be honest- the remnants of my frustration were remaining from that incident STILL...

So for him to do it again- I lost my temper-I did something awful-
I messed up all of his cards...why?
Guys- I literally took my hands and flung his cards all over the bed.

I was SO frustrated with his reaction that I wanted to make it worse- how old am I again? Oh yeah- I am turning 38 this week...

I yelled at him and told him that he needed to learn to "stop over-reacting to his little brother" and I explained that I messed up his cards to..."teach him a lesson"...

He cried and told me that he felt like I hated him...(my heart-breaking...)

Time for bed- I went in and sat next to him- he told me-

"Go away, I don't want to even hear your voice or see you."

He has never said that before...

I sat down on the floor in his room and prayed for him and his little brother-they share rooms- and I got up to go and I hear him say-

"Mommy- please don't go!" Oh thank God for kids that are gracious...

I sat on his bed and I held him- my big 70 pound, 8 year old, and told him- "Mommy messed up big-time buddy. I was so frustrated with your reaction and then I over-reacted too. I never should have done that. I am so sorry."

He did not accept my apology right away...He told me that in that moment he wished he had another Mommy, that he could not believe I would be so mean...

I told him he was right- that Mommy was mean...then we talked about how all of us can be mean...he listened...and he did not let go of me.

He kept hugging me.

Such grace from my big guy- what was I thinking? I wasn't. I was REACTING.

And was my son's behavior unacceptable?
Yes- but so was mine.

My son and I need to learn together not to over-react.
We need to learn together how to handle frustration without sinning against each other and other members of our family.

I so wish I could take that moment back- where I- spitefully messed up his cards, but I can't- however- I can redeem the moment.

I can repent
I can learn
I can change
I can do better today

We ended the night laughing at his little brother, giving another big hug and kiss...

Parenting is so hard sometimes.
But all I can do is be honest-I will get angry at my kids, I will over-react and do mean things, but I must be committed to changing and doing better for them- they deserve that.

I was given my sons to raise by a God who already knew I would mess up my son's Pokémon's cards out of frustration. He knew I would feel bad and he knew we would work through it together.

I am confident that I will be the Mommy God has called me to be because I am confident in my God and His work in me through motherhood.

We can do this Mama's....Just keeping it real.
And if you need help with your temper, let me tell you, there is practical tool- check this out: Temper Toolkit from Lisa Jo-Baker.

Friday, February 5, 2016

What Stay at Home Moms Had to Say to Working Moms


Specific words from stay-at-home moms-
I am so thrilled to share this with all of you. This is some of the awesome stuff I got from some of my friends/readers who are stay at home Moms. I hope it encourages you and gives you more of a sense of camaraderie. We are all in this together. All Moms are Working Moms and we need each other.

"I know you feel guilty about not spending enough time with your kids. But I want you to know, it's never enough. If I read to my kids for two hours, they want three hours. If I prepare three delicious meal with local organic ingredients from scratch, plus two snacks, they want another snack. If I hold the baby for five hours, she still cries when i finally put her down. The truth is, whether you're with your kids full time or not, you'll never be enough for them. You'll never be enough period. But the Holy Spirit in you is enough. Jesus in you is enough. The more honest you can be about your limitations as a mom, and the more you can point your kids to the only One who will ever be enough, the more you can all relax and enjoy each other."

 "I admire your commitment to your career, family, self. I respect the way you juggle home and work. I look forward to joining your ranks in coming years, and I know I'll be leaning on you for advice on how to do it all!"

"I remember being in your shoes, when my almost three year old was a baby. I had to work just a month after he was born. Ugh my heart ached at the thought that I had to leave him behind, with tears covering his little face. I remember counting the minutes before five so I could log out of my computer, sprint to my car and then speed to try to get home to spend at least an hour with my sweet boy before he had to go to bed. I know how difficult it is for most moms to have to leave their baby behind, its difficult, it's a huge sacrifice! I  just hope and pray that you don't feel any less of a wonderful mom just because you have to work. You are a woman who God created and placed in the work field for His ministry. I believe that wherever God places you there is a place for Him, if you let Him. Those people around you need to know who Christ is, they need to watch you live it, your children are watching you make sacrifices so they can have a better life, don't ever forget that. Don't waste your time thinking less of you, spend your time actually praising God that you have the capacity to be able to work, to be able to help your family with finances, thank God for using YOU! As a tool to spread His Gospel in the work field. Hold on to His promises and stay faithful in prayer! Much love to each of you!"

"I've been on both sides of the spectrum, so I feel like I know how both the working and stay at home moms feel. The truth is.....there isn't a right or wrong answer here. The ultimate goal is to do what is best for your family. Whether that be staying home or working, either choice should be respected. I repeat, either choice should be respected. And, do you want to know a secret? Both moms are going think about what it would be like to be in the other one's shoes. It's true! Working moms think about what it would be like to stay at home with their kids, while stay at home moms think about what it would be like to work. Nothing is perfect and there are pros and cons to either choice. I think that whichever end of the spectrum we end up on, whether we chose our side or not, we should celebrate ourselves as the great mothers and providers that we are rather than making ourselves feel less than for which end we are on. God always has a plan for us and I trust that He has me right where he wants me at this moment. Blessings and happiness to all of you."

"Sweet working Mamas, I salute you! Just one year ago, I was right there with you, dropping the littlest off at daycare and taking the other two to school with me. I wondered if I spent enough time with everyone, and teared up the first time my toddler called me by the baby-sitter's name. But you are doing great work, my friend! You're providing for your families. Your kids see you reaching your goals, and you're setting a good example that you have to work for what you want.
Working moms, you do your job, and then come home and work some more. Having a job doesn't exempt you from the dishes, soccer practice, or bath time. You're doing it all.
I'm so proud of you. Keep up the good work! :)

Monday, February 1, 2016

Working Mother- Are You Walking the Narrow Road?

When I was in church this past weekend, the Pastor preached about a lot of different things, but something that stood out to me is when he talked about "the narrow road" that we decide to walk on as Christians...

That stuck to my soul and I began to chew on it...

You have to wonder why anyone would choose to walk down a narrow road, when a wide one is available?

You have to wonder why God would choose to send His loved ones, His precious children, down a road that has such tight boundaries, could be seen even as rigid, or restrictive, one that presses IN, maybe even causes us to slow down as to be sure we are walking right and centered?...

When on the flip side, a wide road, sounds like something we could run through, spin around in, maybe not be so lonely because there is more room for others, maybe more room to breathe, to expand, to swerve and to dance...why not that road?

I love to study passages in the Bible by comparing two versions side by side and then by looking at a Commentary. This is a simple way to study and brings about some rich stuff. Check this out:

Matthew 7:13-14

NIV
The Message
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
13-14 “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.

My summary:
Narrow Gate: leads to life, only a few find it, requires vigor and requires total attention.

Wide Gate: leads to destruction, many enter through it, is for those who are trying to find a shortcut to God and provides false promise to be easygoing and lead to success.

Now let me ask you Working Mama- does the way you are walking...does it require vigor? Does it require total attention? Are you finding that you feel pressed in, restricted, a bit slowed down because of the requirements of this life you are living?

Does walking with the Lord as a Working Mama- bring you to your knees, push you closer to God, narrow your focus so that you keep your eyes on the prize?

If so- then you my sister are walking on a path leading to LIFE.

Life in Christ means less of you and more of Him.

And remembering that all Moms are working Moms, we KNOW that staying home with littles provides just as narrow of a path as our SAHM-friends are pushed and pressed by those little ones who certainly keep them on their knees and push them closer to God...

When I look further into my study Bible, I am led to
Acts 14:21-22:
21 They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. "

As Moms, we "preach the gospel" in many ways, right? Sometimes not even with words, but with the way we live our lives...are we choosing to live our lives in a way that shows the truth of the gospel to those around us?

If we are- may we be like the apostles and win a large number of disciples! We may never see it, but we are making disciples when we live out the truths of the gospel in our homes, our workplace, our community...

And what do we need to do- from one Mom to another- we need to strengthen each other and encourage each other to remain true to the faith because we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God-

Amen? Do we not GET THIS every single day?

Let me tell you what Matthew Henry has to say about this passage in Acts concerning hardships:

Hardships will..."help to confirm them (the disciples), and fix them for Christ"...

He says-

"We must go down to trouble, but we shall come up again."

 "We shall not only get through it, but get through it into the kingdom of God;..."

 "... and the joy and glory of the end will make abundant amends for all the difficulties and hardships we may meet with in the way..."

 "It is true we must go by the cross, but it is as true that if we keep in the way, and do not turn aside nor turn back, we shall go to the crown, and the believing prospect of this will make the tribulation easy and pleasant."

Did you hear that? The hardship, the tribulation, the narrow road will be made easy and pleasant when we believe in the prospect of what is to come...

And do you know what else that Pastor said that got me thinking, he said-
" When is the last time you thought about Heaven? What would your day look like, feel like, if you kept your mind on Heaven?"

Just want to pass on these thoughts and encouragements to you sisters...walk down the narrow road keeping your eyes on Heaven. Do it. You got this!

Love you!

Liz

Friday, January 29, 2016

What I Believe to be True about Women

Why am I writing? What is the purpose of my writing? Why does it feel so urgent for me to write?


Because I am a woman who seeks purpose, who seeks hope, who seeks to see new life, who seeks to understand connection, community and truth.

This is what I believe to be true about women. We feel deeply because we are created with these gigantic hearts that are in need of deep love and are in need to be in deep love with our creator, our spouse, our children, our calling and our church.

This is what I believe to be true about women. We are caregivers, we are nurturers, we are protectors, we are warriors, we are fighters, we are strong and we are real. We are first responders, we are cheerleaders, we are guardians, we are bravery and tenacity and honesty wrapped into one mighty daughter of the King.

This is what I believe to be true about women. We are created to CREATE. We are artists. We co-create life when we birth our babies, we create connection when we engage with other women, we create community when we step out of our homes, we create rhythm and song and melody that sings of our Creator.

This is what I believe to be true about women. We are workers. Workers in the home, caring for our young, in blood, sweat and tears and stained and torn knees, we keep our homes together, bonded, strong and holy . We are workers in the world with kingdom purpose. We have been knit together with unique skills and abilities that are fit for specific needs- within our families, our communities, our churches and our world. We are workers.

You there- single Mom, stay at home Mom, Working Mom, Work from Home Mom, Divorced Mom, Mom struggling with depression, addiction, hopelessness, you are ON PURPOSE- all of you, every part, every piece of your story, your wounds, your victories, your movements, all have meaning because of Him.

I write because I have a Holy God who lives in me that wants to speak words to hearts of women.

I am redeemed by the death of my Savior Jesus Christ and I am able to write, walk, live, love, laugh, grieve, dance, shout, pray, sing and rest WELL- because of Him.

It is my sweet pleasure to journey with all of you...

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Struggling with Working Outside the Home?


This is a very challenging post to write...  

 For me personally, although I have struggled with working outside the home and I have had moments of great tension/stress, I have never felt that I was doing something against God's will and I never felt like my work was keeping the from being the wife and mother that I wanted to be.  

 I also happen to have a very flexible job and a very understanding employer. I consider myself very blessed. 

 I know that there are many of you out there who do not want to work outside the home and struggle with this tremendously. You have a fiercely strong desire to be home with your children and every day is a tremendous struggle for you. 

 You may work for an employer who shows no empathy for your role as a mother. You may have a husband who works very hard and you don't want to make him feel guilty by complaining. There are so many different scenarios that a mother who works outside the home can be in.

 This post is not intended to answer all of your questions and believe me that it comes from a place of simply wanting to encourage and support as much as possible. I am assuming that the advice that I have, most of you have already been seeking out – because I know you are strong women of God.  

 But even if there is one lady out there who finds something in this post, helpful, it will be worth it. 

 If you are truly struggling with being a CWM and feel that working is preventing you from fulfilling your calling in your home and as a mother, pay attention to these feelings.  Ask yourself the following questions:

1.    How is my marriage? Am I able to nurture, support and grow closer to my husband right now?

2.   How are my children? Are they growing in their faith? Are their needs being met? Am I able to give them the attention they need?

 
3.   How is my home? Am I able to manage the basics (with the help of my husband) such as finances, food, organization, scheduling?

You may be struggling in these areas and may need some strategies to strengthen things- or you may need to re-evaluate your role as a working Mom.
 
My thoughts-

1.    Pray about it. Fast and pray for a few weeks. Pick a day/week and fast and ask the Lord for clarification.

2.   Talk to your husband and glean his perspective on the above questions and concerns.

3.   Map out the areas of weakness and struggle together and work together to determine possible solutions and ways to make sure needs are being met.

4.   Consider alternatives at your workplace.

5.   Pray about meeting with your boss and softening his/her heart.

6.   Request options; working from home, replacing a weekday with a weekend day to have time to do things at home (maybe hubby can take over on a Saturday morning while you work), express to your boss your desire to be a good Mom and also be an excellent employee.  

7.   Think about your support system and how you can reach out for help. Remember that you are not alone. The body of Christ is designed to work together. Seek out people who can support you as a working Mom- you never know until you ask. Don’t isolate and assume people will judge you or think less of you. Pair up with a stay at home Mom and ask for prayer and support.

 
Remember: God knows your heart and wants to support you.  Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want and need and then trust, wait and remained grounded in  the Word.  

 If you are struggling with working outside the home- comment below and ask for prayer. Let's support each other!!!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Working Moms- God Sees You

Working Moms- God Sees You
*a revised post from my What I Think God Has to Say to Christian Working Mamas

Jesus , throughout His ministry saw people and He sees you too...

He sees you...

He sees you at 5:30am when you are struggling to get out of bed and get your family ready for the day.
He sees you packing lunches and prepping breakfast and dinner and thinking about your sweet children upstairs still asleep, hoping that you are doing the right thing by working.
He sees you and the care you take packing backpacks and leaving notes in lunches because you are hoping that note will feel like a gigantic hug from a Mama who misses her kiddos during the day.
He sees you at work, looking at pictures on your desk, on your phone and laughing to yourself at the latest antics of your little ones.

     
He sees you picking up your kids, that first hour being tense- you wishing everything could just go perfectly, and them transitioning and feeling out of sorts and you wanting to get homework done, dinner made and when you snap at your kiddos-
He sees you feeling like a failure.
He sees you stopping and hugging them, putting down the burnt dinner and pulling out the cereal and playing Legos in your work clothes and He says- "Atta girl! You know what's most important!"
       
He sees you staring at them while they sleep, loving them so fiercely and deeply.
He sees you at church on Sunday, staring at the bulletin and seeing that you can't make the women's bible studies because they are during the day and how you don't want to go to an evening study anyways because every night belongs to those babies.
He sees you staring at piles of laundry and wanting to cry.
He sees you feeling alone a lot and wanting more connections.

He sees you wanting to enjoy each moment with your kids but also needing friends and some time for yourself.
He sees your sacrifice.
He sees you and He is proud of you!   As proud of you as you are when your 6 year old hits a home run, or when your 3 year old starts to dress himself.
He is proud of your hard work, the details you put into your homemaking, and the ways in which you try to live for Him  in the workplace.
He is proud of you for watching your finances and budgeting and looking for ways to save money so that one day you can reduce your hours.
He is proud of you for working late some nights so that you can attend a field trip or earn extra money for school shopping.
       
He  wants you to know, to REALLY KNOW- that He has created these children with YOU in mind.  YOU are EXACTLY what they need!
Never put yourself down for what you can/cannot do for these babies, but remember that He  will fill in the gaps with His Holy Spirit and He will find people to help you when you cannot be there.
Your job is to help them see that the relationship that you have with God is most important.
Your job is to let them watch you depend on Him , so that they can see that: you love Jesus, you need Jesus and that- Jesus is always faithful to you.
And when they look back, they will remember how much you loved Him and loved them in every crazy, quiet, frustrating, and joyful moment.
They will remember the prayers before leaving the house, the bible stories in the car, the lessons on forgiveness after a frustrating conversation, the Jesus Love Me's being sung over their sleepy bodies as they drift off at night...
       

They will see these things and they will want to know Him more and that is all that matters dear Working Mama-Daughter of the King-Precious Child of Mine.