Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Good Stuff

Yesterday I stayed home with my 5-year-old. He had been up throwing up and I didn't want to send him to Vacation Bible School. I did a little work from home but mostly my little guy just wanted me to sit next to him as he laid on the couch. He was so tired and restless. I spent about 5 hours getting him water, reading him books, holding him, talking about things, we played a little cards and watched the workers across the street work on our neighbor's roof. My work-driven self felt fairly unproductive, but my mama heart was full. I have to admit I probably babied him much more than was needed – but I didn't care. We needed that time together. He fell asleep and while he took his nap, my older son came home from his friends house and watched a movie. I got on the computer and did a little bit more work.

Last night we went to the baseball field and caught up with the parents who showed up with their kiddos for Friday night at the field. I put on my "coaches wife" hat and enjoyed talking with different parents and grandparents and catching up. I laughed hysterically as my little guy got up to bat and ran – obviously feeling much better. After practice my older son and his 2 friends snuck up behind me and begged me to let them spend the night. I gave in – knowing chaos was ahead of me :-) My husband and I took them to McDonald's and I had to smile as I watch these 9-year-old "cool dudes", play hide and go seek in the McDonald's play area as if it was the best thing they'd ever done in their life.

As they went to sleep – I took away all of their electronics and I listen to them laugh hysterically. Despite the fact that sleeping bags were provided all 3 of them wound up in my son's bed. I snuck in to see that my son wound up half on the floor and half on the bed. His feet were still wrapped up in the sheet that covered the other 2 boys while his head was on the floor.

All the boys looked peaceful in the midst of all the chaos of the room. Total sweetness.

 I woke up this morning and made them blueberry muffins and eggs. They played video games and decided they wanted to make box forts. I called 2 of my neighbors who walked over with extra boxes that they happen to have and the kids went to work. It was so much fun watching them play. The best part was that they made something for my little guy – a little car and a little fort.

After that they decided to go to the playground for a little bit. On the way to the playground they heard the ice cream truck. They ran back and I gave them each some money. My little guy wanted to be a part of the craziness so I joined him in following the ice cream truck all over the neighborhood. I got in a good little workout! These kiddos literally ran from block to block chasing the ice cream truck and it was just the best.

I had to go to Panera to catch up on a little bit of work from being away on vacation and because my body was tired and I was feeling a little bit stressed about work – I almost missed the opportunity to reflect on how much fun and sweetness the past 24 hours have been. Not perfect. I got grumpy several times. My introvert self was not thrilled with all the chaos. I wasn't in the mood to drive to get diesel for the tractor so that my husband could get the field ready for practice. At first I didn't feel like talking to people. Going to McDonald's at 8:30 at night was not my number one choice. And yet – I'm looking back now and thinking about my life and I can't help but just feel overjoyed and blessed.

I'm a word person so I have to put into words sometimes things that occur around me in order for me to hold them tightly into my heart. In order for me to press into the beauty and the blessing of the ordinary. But there is nothing ordinary about my life.

Jesus breathes his beauty and grace and holiness into every crack and crevice.
This is the Good Stuff.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Where do I belong?

One of the things that all of us crave is a sense of belonging. We all crave this feeling that we are a part of something special, that we are wanted and needed, that we fit in, that we are invited, welcomed and that there is someone or some group that truly misses us when we are away. Feeling like we belong is a very natural and normal feeling. When we become mothers and when we balance being a mother with working outside the home, often times the need for belonging becomes even more difficult to meet and fulfill. Why is this so? Our society and social media, even in our churches– everywhere we go, we see groups of women who are labeled. We have stay-at-home moms, we have working moms, we have homeschooling moms, we have breast-feeding moms, we have moms who cook organic food, we have moms who connect because they have things in common. We also have Moms who connect because they have skills and passion in common. And at the root of all of these things, is a desire to simply find a place where we belong.

Comparison kills. Envy and jealousy destroy. I would be a liar to say that I've never felt jealousy or envy in any of my female relationships because the truth is – I have. But I am learning to defeat them.  There is nothing that kills a friendship more than jealousy, envy and comparison.

We all have those moments where we compare. And when we compare with others – we rob them of the joy that could be found when we celebrate who they are, what God is doing in their life, and how they are using their skills and abilities to bless others. We also rob ourselves.

In the book study – We Saved You a Seat: Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships by Lisa Jo Baker, I am reading chapter 3 which is all about encouragement.  I'm blown away at what I'm learning.  Lisa- Jo talks about how encouragement is the "antidote to envy". Let that sink in and then put it into practice! Man is she on point!!

When it all comes down to it, we must understand and know that we belong because of who Jesus is and because of what He did for us on the cross. We must understand that we belong to him. We must find our satisfaction and our security in him. We must love him and love our relationship with him more than we love anything else. Jesus has already proven that he is worthy of all of our affection. The truth is that we live in a fallen world and that we are sinners- relationships are tricky and messy. Most of the time, we don't even realize we are comparing and envying others.  It just happens, our hearts are deceitful. The truth is that we need each other and we need to be in community – so the solution cannot be to hide away from others and isolate ourselves. We need to press into this friendship thing.

I have a group of women that are part of a ladies Bible study at my church. I will tell you that I feel I belong to and with these women. They are from all walks of life. We have stay-at-home moms, working moms, moms with little children, moms with children in college, grandmothers, widows, women of all sorts, in various seasons, with various stories  and I will tell you that it was not until I learned how to be myself within this community of loving women,  that I was truly able to grow in my relationship with God and live out my calling as I am able to do now.

It doesn't matter if you work outside the home. It doesn't matter if you stay at home. What matters is having a heart to love the woman that the Lord has placed in your path right where she is, right as she is and to love her as unto the Lord. God has a calling on every woman's life and our job is to help the women around us to fulfill the calling that God has on their life.  It's not about us. It's always about God and others. And we will find that our needs are met as we put others first.

My prayer for you today is that if you are feeling lonely and isolated, you will choose to take that first step towards a friend, a coworker, a stranger, that woman sitting next to you on the bus, the neighbor that you haven't spoken to in a long time, that friend from high school and you've been wanting to reconnect with.  Instead of focusing on what you want others to do for you when it comes to friendships, focus on how you can bless someone else. When you do this – you will find that you truly do belong.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Face to Face with Friendship

Oh how I wish friendship came easy for me. It astounds me how much I long for close friendships and how difficult it can be for me to seek out and maintain lasting friendships. I am not an unfriendly person. I like to talk to people, ask questions, get to know people and even open up.

But I have found over time that when a friendship hits a certain point, I either....
push too hard, put up a wall, or retreat. Sometimes I do all of the above!

Friendship touches on a wounded part of my heart and until now I have not always had the tools or the deeper understanding for what to do when that wound becomes exposed. And why is it even so important for me to get this friendship thing figured out? I can be satisfied with busy, accomplishments, being a wife, being a mother, serving others...right? I mean, do I REALLY need close friends? Well, actually, yes, yes I do. How do I know this? In a new book, Never Unfriended by Lisa Jo Baker, I have learned that this need is built into my DNA. In the beginning, there was God, Elohim. Elohim is plural. God- the father, the son and the Holy Spirit.

They were always together and they created me with a need for this kind of unity, intimacy and community.

I have been on a journey over the past year, with the Holy Spirit (my greatest friend and counselor), guiding me to pursue a healthy, biblical understanding of friendship. I have been fascinated with the subject. It is on my mind all the time. I am thinking about it, praying about it and working on making intentional moves towards it with people in my life. It has been painful. It has been exciting. It has been freeing. The best thing it has been is an amazing opportunity to grow closer to my Lord. What I am learning, from my good friend Lisa Jo Baker, is that the only way to obtain and maintain lasting friendships, is to study the perfect friend and to get my most intimate needs for friendship met FIRST, in Him, in Jesus Christ.

As Lisa Jo states- Jesus "moved into the neighborhood". He came face to face with people. Jesus sat with people for long periods of time. He looked into their eyes. He listened to them. He let them talk. Jesus celebrated with them, he mourned with them. Ultimately Jesus died for His friends. Greater love, there was no GREATER love, than the love Jesus demonstrated while on earth. So what does that have to do with me and my "friendship issues"?   

I have to start with Him. He is my teacher. Jesus's life shines so brightly and speaks so loudly- sending out a message- "I am your friend. I love you. I am showing up in your life. I am walking with you. I accept you right where you are. I am for you. I see you. I know you."

Isn't that what we want most? Is to be KNOWN, to be SEEN, to have someone who champions us, cheers us on, shows up, accepts us as we are?

One thing that is for sure- before we start to expect this kind of thing to show up in our friends, in our daily lives, we need to understand that no one can be this for us 100%, no one except Jesus Christ. So am I looking at Him? Am I face to face with my faithful friend Jesus? Am I showing up to sit at His feet? Am I drawing near to Him daily? Am I opening up my heart to Him? This FIRST. Face to Face with Jesus. As He pours into me, only then, can I be ready to pour into others and receive what they have to pour into me. So, that is where I am. I am sitting but I am also moving. As I sit with Jesus, I am moved towards others. He is the one who propels me towards others. Not my needs, not my motivations, not my interests or wants, but His love.

I am so excited about this journey. I am now looking at the women in my life not for what they can offer me, not to meet my needs, but what I can offer them, how I can show up for them, how I can love them in a way that means the most to them, how I can champion them and cheer them on in a way that they can hear. As I do this, I am beginning to understand and grasp the beauty and gift of biblical friendship. Biblical friendship is always about Christ. It is always about walking with your friend on their journey to glorify God, to grow in their faith and to show the world the Gospel. That is the purpose, that is the goal and that is the focus.

And when that is what we focus on, then the joy comes. The excitement comes. The feeling of closeness and sisterhood, and community.

In this day and age, of Facebook, Social Media, busyness, we have to fight for face to face. We have to fight for time to be face to face with each other. We need to look into each other's eyes, we need to talk, we need to listen, we need to linger, we need to give TIME. It is the only way. For this naturally introverted, social media junkie, that has to be an intentional move on my part and it is my responsibility. I need to go first. I'm excited to blog more on this topic as time progresses. So here's to opening my door, lingering outside to chat with neighbors, making time to meet for coffee, turning off my phone, checking out of Facebook from time to time, not rushing, asking more questions, waiting, pausing, BEING.

Can't wait to share more!!!!


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Changing the Way we See Work as Christian Working Mothers

I don’t know all of you, I don’t know your hearts or your day to day life. I don’t know why you are working and what kinds of ups and downs you face as a Working Mom. Everyone is so different.

Some women feel clearly called to work outside the home.

Some women have found themselves needing to work to make ends meet.

Some women are single and have no other source of income so have to work.

My experience is different from yours and yours from mine.

But I do hope what I share in this post can be something that we can all connect with and find hope from. 

I am excited to share this because it is something that is changing the way I view my work. I do love what I do. I am lucky in that my work is meaningful and I use my gifts and skills and feel good about the work. But what I don't feel good about, at times, is the void of time I am away from my kids. My kids are now both in school, so it is a bit of a different feeling; however- my youngest who is in pre-school still gets to me. There are days where he wants me to stay home, where he asks me not to go to work and it hurts. There are days I wish I worked only half a day so I could help out in the school and be more present. My older son is going through a lot and I wish I understood what his life was like in school- these are the days I think I should be homeschooling. I have doubts, I have questions, I'm sure some of you can relate.

Usually on those particularly difficult days, I feel particularly distant, anxious or sad about something going on in the lives of my kids and I feel like maybe I should be home with them to “fix it” or to help them sort it out. On days like that I do my best, I pray with them, I pray for them and I check in at the end of the day and typically I see how the Lord has met the needs of my children and all is well.

But somedays the tension remains. I wake up with it, I feel it throughout the day and I feel it at the end of the day.

So I have started asking God to help me see this tension in a new way. Is it there because I truly am not supposed to be working? Do I need help with something? Am I focusing too much on the house, dinner, vs. being present with the kids? Am I missing something that God is wanting me to do? I don't feel convicted of sin. I do know that.

I prayed through these questions and the Holy Spirit led me to a few specific things but also to an overarching idea.  I was looking at needs and what I was doing to meet those needs, all day, every day. My focus was on what I was doing and accomplishing and then determining/assessing my success based on that. Not an unusual thing- most women do this, whether you stay at home or work. We want to do what is right and best for our spouses, our children and our home.

But what the Lord led me to grasp is something even better. To start looking at the tension I feel (which really boils down to what I am not able to accomplish, control or change), as an opportunity for sanctification.

Our goal is to become more like Christ. As a believer in Jesus Christ, we are saved upon belief, the moment we admit we are sinners, admit that our sin is keeping us from God and accept that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, determining to believe in Jesus and follow Him. We are saved.
But the rest of our lives are all about being sanctified. What is sanctification?

Sanctification is God’s will for us. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 says- “For this is the will of God, your sanctification…”.

The word sanctification is related to the word saint; both words have to do with holiness.

To “sanctify” something is to set it apart for special use; to “sanctify” a person is to make him holy. 

Sanctification is a state of separation unto God; all believers enter this state when they are born of God.
1 Corinthians 1:30- “You are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” This is positional sanctification. It is a done deal upon belief in Jesus.

Progressive sanctification is growing in the Lord.
2 Peter 3:18 says- “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
While we are set free from the eternal punishment of sin when we believe in Jesus, we still sin every day.

But we are to pursue holiness.
1 Peter 1:15- “…but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.”
We can pursue sanctification by applying the Word of God to our everyday life.
John 17:17 says- “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”

Sanctification has in view the setting apart of believers for the purpose for which they are sent into the world.
John 17:18-19: “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” We are sanctified and sent because Jesus was.

Working Mamas- think about this and let it sink in. You are set apart, in your day to day life as a worker and a mother. You have been sent into the world, just as Jesus was sent, for a purpose- which is to pursue holiness. You are to pursue earnestly that purpose by applying the word of God to your life. When you do this, other will see.
Matthew 5:16- “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Maybe, just maybe (and I say maybe because I cannot presume to know everyone's situation), God is allowing this tension that oftentimes comes when a mother works outside the home,  as an opportunity for you to become more like Christ. For you to pursue holiness. For you to be changed and for you to bear witness in a powerful way.

How would you see each day- if you looked at it in this way?

If you woke up in the morning knowing that this day you have before you is on purpose.
That you have a purpose- which is to seek holiness, to become sanctified and to apply the Word of God to all areas of your life.

Your life can be a stunningly beautiful witness for the Lord, right where you are, right now. Believe it sisters and pursue it. Instead of working being a burden, maybe we can see it as a blessing and as a tool that the Lord will use to make us more like Him!

When the tension comes, lay it down before Jesus and ask Him to USE it to make you holy and more like Christ. I hope this encourages you!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Gift of Being "Un-Fine"

Friendship is tricky.
I remember from a young age always wanting people to like me.
I remember the neighborhood kids.
I remember the girl I would sit next to on the bus.
I remember the girls I would sit next to at lunch time.
I remember the middle school days of trying to figure out who was my best friend and who was not.
I remember the high school days of being one of the mean girls and purposefully ignoring a friend because someone else told me to and I didn't want that friend to be mad at me.

Friendship can be a tricky web of hurt feelings, trying to fit in, trying to find acceptance/approval and yet this is the exact opposite of how our holy God defined friendship for us.

Jesus is the ultimate example of the best kind of friend we could ever have.

Jesus went first.
Jesus loved us before we were capable of loving him.
Jesus didn't hold grudges.
Jesus forgave us when we denied him to his face.
Jesus was incredibly patient with us.
Even while we refused to let him into our hearts, he never stopped knocking.
Jesus knew when to give us space. He never stopped loving us, but he backed away when we needed time to figure out the best way to receive his love. 
Jesus was always able to see the best in us and he gave up his life so that we can live out the best version of ourselves by the power of His blood.

His death on the cross saved us from slavery to sin and gave us freedom.

And yet – there are many places in our lives we are still learning how to be free.

Friendship is one of those for me.

One of the things I have learned along the way is that in order to be a friend you have to be willing to show your ugly/ "un-fineness".

In a brand-new book,  Never Unfriended by  Lisa Jo Baker, this is one of many topics that are covered.

And it is so closely related to what Christianity and salvation are all about.
So many of us are so unwilling to answer the question – "How are you?" with the not so expected answer of, "I'm not fine".

When we learn that the God of the universe is holy and that we are not because of our sin – the first thing we have to do is announce to him that we are not fine and that we need him. And when we admit this – and we learn about Jesus and what he has done for us, we are able to enter into the holiest and most beautiful friendship ever.

I love that this book – which completely meets its promise of teaching "The Secret to Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships" – does not talk about surfacy issues.

If you're looking for a book that simply talks about how to be kind and how to have good communication skills and how to be popular, this is not the book.

This book is meaty, raw and deep. It touches on so many areas where we have been wounded with regards to friendship. And it tells us how to move on from there so that we can be the kind of friend that nourishes, strengthens and blesses others.  

Lisa Jo states in her book – "I am convinced that the shortest distance between strangers and friends is a shared story about our broken places. Nothing is riskier or more vulnerable than cracking open the doors of our messy, guest – unready homes, let alone the doors of our actual lives. We get so used to being neatly package people in stories and families that we can forget how to be anything but "fine" when someone asks."

She shares a story of how a friend of hers connected with her once and offered to bring her dinner. She indicates that the first thing she did was reply – "No thanks, we're fine".

Because isn't that what we do? We don't want to admit that we have needs and that we need help in that we're not always fine.

So Lisa-Jo explains that she decided to pick the phone back up, call her friend and say 4 words – "Thank you, yes please."

And she said that the kindness of her friend was a kind of kindness that can "unglue" a person.
And she is so right.

This year I have had several things happen in my life which have rendered me to a point of having asked for help. I broke my foot which kept me out of work for 3 weeks and relying on others for 6. And I'm just coming out of a season of illness where my family struggled and battled being sick for 3 weeks. When I broke my foot, I sat in my living room angry with God for a while. There was a women's retreat coming up, there were things to get done around the house and I didn't understand why God would allow me to not be able to walk. God was very clear with me and told me that he had a lesson for me to learn. So I texted a friend and asked her if she would set up a meal train for me. I was nervous that no one was sign up for it. I don't even know why I felt that way! I belong to a church where I have many people who love me – but this was the first time where I had to openly ask for a need to be met. It wasn't long before the meal train was full and I sat back and received complete kindness, graciousness and love from the people in my church because I was willing to say that "I was not fine".

And I agree with Lisa Jo that this type of kindness "unglues", a person.
This kind of kindness unclenches the fists of control that we try to have when it comes to friendships and allowing others to see who we really are. This kind of friendship is "what grace tastes like" (Lisa Jo Baker).

If you want to read more and learn more and be completely strengths in an empowered and excited about friendship – I encourage you to check out this amazing book.

Never Unfriended


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

For My People- Because it Really is ALL about YOUR People

First of all- thank you Tammy for inspiring me to find joy. I have not felt the joy of writing in some time. I have been busy and started feeling bogged down. My beautiful friend Tammy reminded me to be grateful and to find my joy. I thought about my blog and remembered how much I loved to write and then I thought about how much I love MY PEOPLE. So here it is...

I have not posted in awhile. I have been immersed in life, ministry, and ALL THE STUFF. But today I wanted to check in and just give a shout out to my people. I could NEVER.EVER. do this CWM thing without you...
Aaron, Lincoln, Benjamin-you are my rocks and my heart beat. I could write pages upon pages about you but for now just know that you make ALL THE MOMENTS worth it.   

For my Mom- My first example of a working Mama. You rocked it Mom. I will never forget the joy I had seeing you drive up at the end of the day. I never ever doubted your love for me whether you worked part-time, full-time or stayed home. I still hang onto that when I struggle with the guilt of working. Your dedication to getting dinner on the table, answering ALL THE QUESTIONS and listening to ALL THE DETAILS of EVERYDAY, when I am certain what you needed most was to soak in the tub and put your feet up- is still inspiring as I am now living this out as a Mama. You dinner-prepped like a beast (I did not inherit that from you unfortunately!). You signed the forms, you made the lunches, you helped with the outfit choices, you cleaned out the backpacks, you did the hair, you drove me to and from ALL THE PLACES. You LOVED in all the moments. 
For my Dad- You are more than you know. You take the time to make my life easier as a working Mom. You are the one who notices the needs in my home and fixes things I would never get to. You make the ice. You hang up the picture that is crooked. You hang up the iron so it has a place.  I will never forget the surprise gift on my front step- the gorgeous maternity sweater and necklace you left for me because you heard me talking about feeling frumpy. You are always present and available. You also have the ability to make me laugh and we all know that laughter is an essential ingredient in the crazy balancing act of working and parenting.
My brother Rob Steinbach, Daddy of four plus foster babies, pastor of the broken and redeemed from the east all the way to the west coach. You are amazing. You inspire me with your adventurous heart and how you unashamedly preach the Gospel.  With you the words- Gospel Freedom- tattoed on your arms, you are a walking testimony. You are my TWIN. Although we don't connect as much as I know we should- our connection will always be a part of who I am and who God is making me to become.  
For Laura...I went to a local park a few years ago at the end of a busy workday. I fortunately had time to change, eat some dinner and was ready to play with my boys for a bit before baths and bed.  I had been at this local park several times and never run into any young Moms, but today was different. I saw her coming down the street, pushing her youngest in a stroller and her older was following along. She was dressed in business attire, ponytail loosened, likely from a combination of commute, rushing to get the kids and running to the park. I looked at her and I literally exhaled.

She looked like me...I knew her even though I did not.

I watched her curiously. She looked a bit frazzled (which made me feel normal because most days I LIVE in FRAZZLED), she was so beautiful as she pushed one kiddo on the swing and watched the other one slide down the slide. I could tell she was, like me, trying to be all in the moment, both boys wanting her attention. "She probably hasn't eaten yet", I thought. "At least I have time to change and eat before I get moving with the kids", I thought.

She smiled a lot and she hugged her boys and I stepped towards her and introduced myself. I was kind of nervous. She was not. She immediately started talking to me and we clicked. We talked about everything. From work to kid stuff, to marriage to community, and again, I exhaled, I could relate to this Mama.  We connected every few weeks whether it be at the park, over ice cream, or at each other's homes. She asked me a lot about my work. Not too many people did that. 

She seemed truly interested in who I was and what kind of career interests I had. She encouraged me when I was thinking about expanding in my career and she hugged me when I told her I felt like a failure as bills piled up and nothing seemed to be enough. I began my blog and I told her about it. She, graciously, SO graciously, offered to help me put it together.

My on-line friend Laurie Wallin- I e-mailed you and you responded. To me, you were a major Christian Mama Blogger and I was shocked that you responded. I reached out again and you asked me for my phone number. You called me and you encouraged me and your engagement in my life confirmed that I was going in the right direction. I admire you more than you know. You are real and your words bring all of your readers closer to the light of Christ. You coined the statement to me- "Liz, the Christian church has yet to come up with a life-giving message for the Christian Working Mom." Your statement is what this blog is all about.

My on-line Working Mama BFF- Lisa-Jo Baker- you took my story and you spoke it out loud for an audience I was not able to reach- you gave my voice a platform. My small blogpost that turned took it and my story of how my church supported me and you shared it with the world.  It made me cry and filled me with hope and excitement for what God is doing for Moms who struggle with balancing work and family. You were the one who put that first post out there- "Grace for the Working Mama and her Guilt" which acted as a virtual life preserver at the time as I was drowning in the tension of working and mommying. 

Hannah Kallio- You are this unexpected jewel of a friend who could not be more different than me. YET- you invited me to speak in your world, to share my writing, you gave me tools to help me grow. You took my phone call and coached me for free and helped me to see that I could make space in my busy life. Your questions challenged me and you gave me courage to be ME.  Thank you for your wisdom and friendship.

Sarah Johnson- you are my fellow traveler, I would not thrive in this journey without your humor, honesty and compassion.  You were my first Christian Working Mama BFF and you coined the phrase- “The ground is level at the foot of the Cross, both for the Stay at Home Mama and the Working Mama.” Your friendship and wisdom certainly are woven in many of my blogposts.

Lissette O’Neal- you are my Stay at Home Mama soul sister. Thank you for doing life with me and making me see how important the bond, connection and support between Stay at Home Moms and Working Moms truly IS. You never judged, you always loved, you cared for my kiddos, you never tried to take my place but you always loved my boys as your own. You became a second mama to my little Benny and I would never change that for the world. Your light and love welcomed be at every morning drop-off and every evening pick-up.

Loretta Faulkner- My second Stay at Home Mama soul sister. You took care of my big boy. Before and After Care was your ministry to this frazzled mama. Girl- you even got my kiddo ready for picture day when I forgot! You reminded me of field trips, you sent me pics of lost spelling lists, you instilled in my son the disciple of doing homework first and doing it WELL. You provided gloves on days I couldn’t find any, snacks when I forgot to pack them, oh my WORD, the list goes on and on. You also welcomed me with light and love at every morning drop-off and every evening pick-up.

To Edgewater Bible Church- You gave me the gift of ministry. Pastor Ben O’Neil- you let me lead when I was convinced I did not have time and was not ready. You believed in the work that God was doing in my life and you made room for this Christian Working Mama to do her part in the body of Christ.

For all my readers- where did you all come from? I thought I was on an island and was afraid even if I kept shouting, no one would hear and come on over. And then you came! You stopped by, you listened to my ramblings and you heard encouragement and love and kept coming back. I can only thank you for sticking by me and give God all the glory for anything good that has come from my little space in social media for my amazing, wonderful, superhero working Mama friends.


Friday, February 3, 2017

Making Disciples

Normal. What does that mean? What is a "normal" day for you?
Every mother has a different "ideal" normal day, right?

We want happy kids in the morning, cheerful children when they get home who happily do their homework, get along with their brothers and sisters, eat their dinners, go to bed without a fight and sleep straight through the night.

Sounds ridiculous to think this, but I have to be honest with you all, I still think somehow I "deserve" this kind of day. And when I don't get it, I get a bit, no a TON annoyed, at myself, my husband, my children. MY LIFE.

God has been whispering something new to my heart this year- "Drop the ideal of normal. Just look for me and follow me." The beauty of this kind of thinking is that is keeps my mind off of what is "not right" at the moment, and instead puts me in a mindset of total focus on God.

I remember His sovereignty, I remember His grace, I remember forgiveness, I remember truth, I remember redemption, I remember my purpose.

I have been in a crazy-cuckoo mindset for far too long of what motherhood is supposed to look like.

What is my purpose? My purpose is to make disciples. A disciple is someone who accepts Jesus as their Lord, is determined to follow Him, and eventually becomes mature in their faith- feeding themselves spiritually, and then begins discipling others. That is IT.

My purpose in parenting is to introduce my children to Jesus, teach them who He is every moment, all the time, show them who he is every moment, all the time. Using my words and my actions. Every moment counts. I am a mother, but most importantly I am a teacher.  The definition of disciple is a "learner or pupil".

It goes like this...I learn from Jesus, I teach my children, they learn from me, eventually they learn from Jesus on their own, they teach others, others learn from them, etc...

Looking at the life of Jesus and Paul, two men in the New Testament that live lives of intentional discipleship, I have learned that every aspect of their life was about making disciples. They saw every moment connected to the purpose of sharing the Gospel. Every. Moment.

Man that is so inspiring and so overwhelming to imagine implementing in my daily life.
But maybe I can try, maybe I can act and speak exactly what I know to be true in the Bible.

What would that look like?

When I wake up and I make my children breakfast, I am serving them because I know Jesus first served me, I can talk to my children about this. "Hey boys, Mommy loves to make you breakfast because Mommy gets to serve. Do you know who is the best servant in the world? Let me tell you more about Jesus."

When my boys fight and argue. "Hey boys, Jesus teaches us to love each other as we love ourselves. How can we love each other better right now? What do you think Jesus would want us to do when we are angry with each other?"

When I am running late and tired and my boys want me to go outside and play- "Hey boys, Mommy really does not want to play right now. But life is not about making ourselves happy all the time. Sometimes we need to do things we don't want to do because we love people. That can be hard sometimes for sure. But Mommy will change, eat a snack and then play with you because Jesus tells me that I need to put others before myself."

When I blow it-HUGE. When I yell too harshly, when I don't stop to listen, when I make those mistakes that just make me cringe- I can get on my knees, look them in the eyes and say- "Mommy messed up. I am so sorry. Please forgive me. Mommy is a sinner and I was not following the Holy Spirit just now. Jesus forgives us when we sin. Can you please forgive me?"

And when my kiddo disobeys me. He needs to get a consequence. I can remind him that God disciplines those he loves. I can say- "Kiddo- I know you don't like this but I love you and I want you to know that certain types of behavior are not acceptable because they hurt you and others. We have to ask Jesus to help us with this stuff. It is not easy to live like Him, but Mommy will pray for you." 

Maybe these scenarios sound cheesy and silly- but I can attest to the fact that when I start to talk to my children about why I am doing things, they listen.

They might think it's goofy, they might think it's not 'cool', but they listen."

I know this to be true because every now and then I catch my 9 year old saying something I have heard myself say, when correcting his younger brother. I know this to be true because when I DON'T do it- they almost always push me TO DO IT by acting up more. And when I don't do it, I lose MY focus, I have to be intentional.

We need to speak, we need to act and we need to make disciples of our children. And it will be the greatest privilege and joy to do so.

How cute are these two?


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Ramblings of a Working Mama

Wake up at 6:30am, the kids are on the floor, needing extra time with Mama- so many nights, there they are. Feels like one big slumber party some nights, but I try to remember it won't be that long.

We stayed up late last night talking about forming bands, new girls in school, being nicer to each other and always forgiving. I decide if today I will shower or not. Some morning I will admit that I am almost relieved that I showered the day before because that gives me a few more moments before the day gets going.

Coffee on, big son comes down the stairs in his old, stained Navy T-shirt because today is College Spirit Day and he wants to be in the military (so he can shoot people of course- Moms of boys, you know that this is a normal thing to say, other people- my son is not a psychopath, he is just fascinated with all things guns, fighting and battles), anyways, bigger son wants some eggs and turns on the TV, little son comes next and cries that he doesn't want to go to school. I remind him that it is "Pj and Pancake day!" He does not seem impressed, yet. He wraps up in blankie and sticks his head on the couch.

I make some breakfast, remind them to say "thank you" (again) and I get ready for work. I'm grateful my pants are not too wrinkly and I put on some makeup and a scarf and feel a little more grownup compared to my Christmas mitten pj's.

I work, the kids go to school. The afternoon begins. I try to begin with prayer, usually the boys are either fighting or jumping around while I pray outloud, they think it is annoying sometimes, but I don't care- it helps me refocus.

From 3pm-9pm I spend the majority of my time, breaking up arguments, teaching the same thing over and over again about "how we talk to each other", pick up clothes, toys, more clothes and toys, make food, make more food, and play as much as I can. I play basketball, try to understand Minecraft, talk about wrestlers, try to let my boys be boys and play like monkeys (which they need but drives me nutso)...

I might host a mini-playdate and serve up snacks to big boys friends who destroy my home, but make me happy as they laugh and play (and of course shoot each other with Nerf bullets that never go away), some afternoons my little guy has a play-date and he and his buddy race around the house being superheroes and I try to remind myself to breathe and I take a lot of bathroom breaks just to get away from the crazy.

The dog goes in and out and in and out. Empty dishwasher, fill dishwasher, basket to washing machine, washer to dryer, dryer to basket, fold, put away, repeat at least once/day. 

Looking for those moments (many days I forget), but thankfully I get a Holy Spirit nudge, "Hey look at that- that is just like how Jesus loves us!", "God cares about your homework, I promise. He is here with us." "Mommy needs forgiveness too, we always need to remember that we can always start over with Jesus."

Phrases and statements that I throw around in the midst of the busy and pray and hope that they stick like crazy super-natural glue to the important places in their little souls.

Stick somewhere where they can get them back and remember them when they need them again.

Stick in places where something new is happening, where new life is forming as they grow to be little men of God.

In the midst of the dishes, and backpacks, and inside out pants, and toothpaste on the sink and empty toilet paper rolls, my soul is begging...

"Please God, help me not to screw them up. Help me show them how amazing you are. Help me show them that you are way cooler than Minecraft and even Superman. Help me to learn who they are. How did you create them God? One feeds on talking and the other on constant playing- help me to have the energy to do both! And please don't let me forget to feed them your Word, always, always, always. Help me not to let them get full on this world, the lies, too much junk food, TV, screen-time, help me to reel them back in when they seem to be lulled away by the buzz and the noise. Help me to find holy moments to hold them and then give me wisdom to let them go and trust you all at the same time!"

Bedtime again, more lessons on being nice, nice words, nice actions, and then let's pray and thank God for the day. Every day. Again and again. It is my world. Work and School, the time we are apart, they are important, I pray for teachers, I email them when I have concerns, I stop by for lunchtime when I can, my work is good, I enjoy it, I work hard, it is fulfilling. And it is ALL my calling. ALL of it. But those mornings, afternoon/evenings and weekends when I am in the thick of discipling my children, those are some pretty hard, beautiful, messy, eternal moments.

I'm blessed.