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