It’s early morning in my house – all are sleeping, all is quiet. It’s one of my favorite times of the day. No rushing, no deadlines, no last-minute search for backpacks and jackets, keys, and purse. There is something about the sense of quiet, the stillness.
In a world of constant noise, I find that “quiet” has become a precious commodity. Did you ever notice that almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes? I think we all need to “unplug” sometimes.
The other day, in the midst of looming deadlines, orders piling in my inbox, church meetings, and school activities, I decided to stop at a little park down the street with my kids. It was a GORGEOUS day. My three-year-old & five-year-old were thrilled! I sat in the grass and stopped to take it all in. I listened to their laughter. I pushed them on the swings. We all sat in a swinging chair and counted the cars on a train that went by us – 133 cars! They thought that was something!
We looked at our little part of the city from up on a hill, then we sat down below on a bench and talked about how the view changed. We listened to a bird with a very interesting call, and soon a few sticks on the ground became staffs that would forge a new path into an unexplored patch of trees. The kids thought they had quite the adventure when a nearby dog began barking at them and they rushed back to the safety of mom’s side!
Finally, we all laid in the grass and looked at the clouds. We watched the breeze move through the trees, and let the sunshine warm our faces. How wonderfully therapeutic it is when we “unplug” from the noise of the world and become aware of the unrushed world of God’s creation. In the middle of my “busy” God lead me to a pocket of peace, a place of stillness where I could take a deep breath and recharge.
I want to encourage you to find that place of rest today. Take time to quiet your mind and be still. Take time to be aware of your children and your spouse. Be present in your heart and mind. Breathe deeply. Let God speak to you. What a difference it will make in your life when you choose to protect your peace, when you become intentional about being still and at rest.
You’ve only got one life to live. Don’t let deadlines and “to-do” lists drag you through it. You can still be productive – sometimes more productive – when you “stop and smell the roses.” Memories aren’t made in the “busy-ness” of life, but in the moments that we choose to make special. Make some memories today. Your children will thank you for it later!!
This last week I was reading from some women that inspire me, and it really got me thinking – deeply – about the lost art of godly motherhood. I can think right now of so many women in my life that exemplify what a godly mom is, and it’s not their perfection, it’s their sacrifice that humbles me and inspires me to be more.
There was a time in my life when I had more personal freedom. Not that long ago I could leave the house, go grocery shopping, or see a movie without having to do much planning or preparation. I could meet up with a friend, or go out with my husband, and I didn’t even have to call or notify someone that their childcare services were being requested! Now grocery shopping requires carefully planned strategies, and seeing a movie is a rare (if ever) occasion. I have always been a very driven and productive person, working my whole adult life and “getting a lot done” every day, but when God blessed me with more babies, my efficiency seemed to taper off a bit.
At one point in my life I was a “world changing” missionary teaching in Bible College, pastoring women, holding Bible studies every week and crusades every weekend. I was up at 4am, teaching devotionals at 5:30, and leading staff prayer at 1. My days were productive and my nights were filled with sweet sleep!
Now many days are spent making block castles with William, being a cheerleader for Grace as she learns to crawl, and sitting outside naming the different animals we see or all the colors that God made. Hours are spent cleaning up messes, and reorganizing toys that will all be on the floor again in a few hours, and guess what? Nobody sees what you do day in and day out except God.
Is it less glamorous? Yes. Is your work rarely acknowledged? Yes. Is it less important?
In the eyes of the world you are “just” a mom. You are “tied down” by these needy little creatures that need constant instruction and correction; that have meltdowns at the most inconvenient times; that cry until they are taught to communicate, and can’t even comprehend being grateful for your sacrifice until they are much older. Yet laying down one’s life for another is the greatest example of love, and it was Jesus that demonstrated the ultimate sacrifice for us.
In the words of one godly mother,
“Productivity is not God’s highest goal for this season of my life; obedience is. Success in His kingdom is not measured by numbers of people reached, quantity of books written, or worldly accolades received. Rather, He says, ‘…whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant’ (Matt. 20:26)”
It was Jesus that taught us to get down on our knees and empty ourselves of position and reputation, and to value and highly esteem the privilege of serving others. Godly motherhood is a priority to God, and it is in living this poured out life – one that we “lose” for Him – that we truly find a life of abundance.
God has been teaching me to slow down, and to cherish this time that I have with my children. What I invest as a mother now will produce such a glorious harvest in time to come. I have a brief window to give of my time, talent and energy – sowing seeds of righteousness in my children’s hearts. In the words of Paul, “I will gladly spend and be spent,” for their little souls to know Christ.
For all of the moms who daily choose a life of self-sacrifice, and who may think that it doesn’t matter or that it’s keeping you from doing something “more important” for God – be encouraged today. What you do as a mom matters, and it is very valuable and precious in God’s eyes.
There is something about a mother that is so divinely purposed by God – an innate ability to nurture, protect, and love her children. A woman of godly character that sees the value in, and invests in her children is something so precious, and so rare. The quote above is one of my absolute favorites because it recognizes the powerful influence a mother has, not only in her home, but over nations!
I have a confession to make. For the last twenty years I have been a working mom. I always believed it was harder to work outside of the home, and in some ways it is; but, I have been blessed by God to be a stay at home mom for the last 5 months, and I must admit that it seems harder on some days to be at home than it is to be at work! Maybe it’s the lack of adult conversation, the fact that there are no lunch breaks, or the never ending repetition of questions, crying, and correction – but there are some days I want to work just so I can have a break from my 24/7 job at home!
There was actually a video that went viral on YouTube that featured a man interviewing people for a job (the job was being a mom). They didn’t know what the job actually was, but as he described their duties, one by one, they began to declare this job was impossible to do. If you haven’t seen it, watch it below:
In honor of mother’s day, I just wanted to send out a big thank you to all of the mommies out there that give of themselves sacrificially to help mold and shape the character of the children who will be our future leaders, each in their own spheres of influence. Don’t EVER underestimate the value and inestimable worth of a mother in the lives of her children! What you do matters, and though what is done in your home with your children may only be seen by you and by God, it is to be acknowledged and praised!
“Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.”
This week, remember the important place that you have in your home. It is a place of strength and honor. It is a place of value and worth. It is a place given by God, and it is to be highly regarded and highly esteemed! What you invest of your time, energy, love, patience, and strength in this present time will one day be the very thing that is blessing you, and praising you before God and man. Mommy, you are a QUEEN with a powerful scepter, building the character of your children for eternity. You have a VERY HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!
So, my son has recently learned a new word, and what’s so interesting is that I believe he learned it from a Bible App that’s made for little ones. The app is interactive, and it tells the story of creation, the fall, the birth of Christ, and a few other major story lines from the Bible. The depiction of the fall of man is played out complete with background music, sound effects, and narration. We see Eve, the serpent beguiling her, and Adam following suit. Adam and Eve hide in fear and shame when they hear God, and when God calls Adam to the carpet for eating of the fruit of the tree, Adam looks at him with a blank stare, says, “Huh?” and he points to Eve. (This is where the blame game started my friends!)
Well, my precious 2 year old will now use this word when I tell him to do something that he doesn’t particularly care to do.
It goes something like this:
“Don’t touch that, please. It could break, and mommy doesn’t want you to get hurt.” – “Huh?”
Then, looking right in his eyes, I repeat, “Don’t touch that, please. It could break, and mommy doesn’t want you to get hurt.” – “Huh?”
I might repeat it one more time, and then I look at him, and I say, “You know what I said.”
When Your Children Won’t Listen
Did you know that anyone who teaches people about the word of God gets the best illustrations by watching their own children! You may think I am going to now head into a discourse on toddler behavior problems, but I’m not. These several verbal exchanges with my son have brought to light scriptural truth, and you might get some answers here for yourself if you have been wondering why God doesn’t seem to be answering your prayers, or why it seems hard to hear His voice these days.
Just as your children sometimes have selective hearing, God’s children can also sometimes look at God with a blank stare, and say, “Huh?” when it comes to doing something they don’t particularly want to do. Oh, yes, God will be gracious and merciful, and He will repeat what He told you in case you didn’t quite get it the first time, but there comes a point that He says, “You know what I said.”
Most of us are enlightened far beyond the level of our obedience, or in other words, God has shown us things we must do, but we’re not doing them. Many times when we are seeking direction, answers, solutions to problems, or wisdom for the future, and it seems that heaven is silent, we need to go back and check to see whether we are doing the things that God has already directed us to do.
I can tell you right now, if I spoke to my son and told him that we were going to drive to the store and get some ice cream, he would emphatically say, “Let’s go!” and proceed to the door before I could even put his shoes on. This same child, in the same moment, could get another directive, “…but you have to clean your room first,” and to this he might say, “Huh?”
How can the same child, with the same ears, listening to the same voice, hear one directive so clearly, and be so dull of hearing with another?
Many times we pray, “God, show me what to do. God, I’ll do anything, I’ll go anywhere. God, I need wisdom. God, I need answers.” Then God prompts you to go to someone and apologize for something, or to forgive another for a wrong committed against you. He may lead you to give of your finances to a person or project, or to give of your time doing something that will require sacrifice. HE IS SPEAKING, but we pretend not to hear. Internally we say, “Huh?” and we convince ourselves that God is choosing to be silent for some mysterious reason. Do you see that our receiving correction is connected to our receiving direction? Our receiving answers is connected to our obedience? That DOING is connected to HEARING?
I believe the Apostle James had something to say about this:
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” ~ James 1:22
When we hear and we don’t do, we can become capable of deceiving ourselves. Deception simply means to be led astray. When we don’t do what we know to do, we don’t walk in the light we’ve been given, and we begin to walk in darkness. That’s why people become confused about the will of God, the direction of God, the lack of solutions to their problems, and a number of other areas of life.
How about you? Are you in a place today where you feel that you can’t hear God’s voice? Does it seem that you’ve been seeking answers, and you aren’t getting them? Are there areas of your life that you seem to be navigating blindly – areas that leave you feeling confused and frustrated? I want to encourage you to go to God with a willing and open heart, asking Him to show you whether there is something that He has already directed you to do that you are not doing. God is so merciful, so patient, and He so desires to give you the answers and direction that you are seeking!
In one moment of honesty and surrender, the Holy Spirit can pinpoint an action that can be taken TODAY, that will bring clarity and light where you have been experiencing darkness and confusion.
You can start by praying this prayer in faith,
“God, I am asking you today to show me whether there is anything you have directed me to do that I am not doing. If you’ve given me light and revealed to me things, and I have not obeyed, I am asking for mercy, Lord. Show me again, and I purpose in my heart to do those things that you tell me to do, even if it’s hard. I am asking you for the truth, Lord, and I am willing to see, and I am willing to hear, and I am willing to DO. I believe, by faith, that you hear me, and that my prayer is pleasing to you, and I believe that you will answer. Amen”
So, being that I am a health conscious person, and I appreciate the beauty of what raw fruits and vegetables do for the body, I have been really trying to get my toddler to eat his veggies (and not just corn). The only problem has been that he will usually begin to chew on some veggies, and then he’ll spit them out. We’ve tried spinach, broccoli, asparagus, kale, carrots, bell peppers, and a number of other veggies, but mostly he likes corn!
I have tried cutting things very, very small. I tried hiding some veggies in pizza sauce, but he detected that! I’ve gotten away with spinach in some things, and steamed carrots with some butter and brown sugar, but in the past he’s had a real aversion to the greens!
One thing that I have found is my best strategy for getting the greens in him is smoothies! He really, REALLY, likes smoothies, and I can add a variety of veggies and greens in the right amounts so as not to throw off the sweet, fruity goodness. Almost every day we share some smoothies for breakfast or as part of lunch, and we both feel good about what we’re eating!
I wanted to share one of our favorite smoothie recipes to inspire you to try making your own! This recipe is for a Mango Peach Smoothie with Kale.
1 C Frozen Mango chunks
1 C Frozen Peach Slices
1 C Apple Juice
2 Leaves of Kale (Pulled from stem and chopped)
1/2 C Fat-Free French Vanilla Yogurt
2 Tbs. Milled Golden Flax Seed
Mix all ingredients together in a blender until pureed and smooth! Drink & Enjoy!
Here is some awesome nutrition information on some of these ingredients:
Just 1 Cup of Kale has:
- 329mg Potassium,
- 133% of your Vitamin A
- 134% of your Vitamin C
Just 1 Mango has:
- 72% of your Vitamin A
- 203% of your Vitamin C
- 20% of your Vitamin B-6
- Rich in Fiber
Just 2 Tbs. of Flax Seed has:
- 3.6g Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Good source of Fiber & Protein
In addition, yogurt is rich in Calcium & Vitamin B-12, and is great for aiding in digestion and the absorption of nutrients; peaches are a moderate source of antioxidants, Potassium and Iron, and Apple Juice is another good source of Fiber & Iron (the cloudy apple juice is the healthiest).
So that’s my trick to getting my toddler to eat greens! What’s yours? I’d love to hear some more ideas in the comments below!
Get More Done in Less Time
…and be happy while you are getting stuff done!
If you are like me, and you are a mom with a lot to do (and what mom doesn’t have a lot to do?) – then you are probably as interested as I am in getting more done in less time. For the past twenty years I have either been working, in school, or in ministry full time. This past January, I joined the stay-at-home-mom gang, and began working from home with two little ones by my side. Needless to say, it has required a learning curve on my part. With so much to do, and having to be strategic with timing (because of the littles), my brain became a very messy place!
Perhaps you have a messy brain too. Even if you aren’t “working from home”, being a mom is a career in itself. In addition, many may work part-time, or home school, or serve at church, or a number of other things that add to the brain clutter! So what is a woman to do!?
Personally, I prayed, and God delivered an answer to me through the website of a Christian businesswoman/stay-at-home-mom/homeschooler/entrepreneur/millionaire – hey, no one ever said to reinvent the wheel! I want to see what’s working for this woman! As I watched the brief teaching on being more productive while working from home, I was getting some revelation! I started applying what I heard that day, and this last week has been more productive for me than ever! Not only that, I feel better because I am being productive, and taking action, and getting stuff done instead of thinking about all of the things I need to get done!
It’s a pretty simple process, and I am sharing it simply because it has worked so well for me. I know everyone is different when it comes to how they structure their days, but this might be the thing that you’ve been looking for!
So what’s the key to getting more done in less time?
Get everything out of your brain! Sit down and do a “mind dump.” Write EVERYTHING down that you have to do, or want to do, from organizing the Tupperware drawer, to taking the kids to dance, to re-tiling the kitchen, to making a dentist appointment, to planning a family vacation. SHOCKER: Most people have about 200-300 things they are storing in their brains. I wrote about 150 things in an hour! No wonder my brain felt messy!
Take all of those things that were in your mind and begin to process them by organizing them into four categories: Tasks, Projects, Events, and Information. (See the flow chart below for more detail)
Get your projects and tasks ready to be executed! Yes! This is where the productivity begins! Get your events written down on whatever type of calendar you choose (electronic, paper, dry-erase, etc.) Get your information filed away for future reference.
Invest a Little Time to Save a Lot of Time!
Yes, it will take a little time to write down and organize all of those things you’ve been carrying around in your mind, but get in the spirit of the season, and “spring clean” your brain! Trust me, it has freed my mind up to act on one of its primary functions: executing tasks. Our minds are not primarily places to store heaps of information. When we try to do that, we tend to forget things!
So what does this look like in action?
When I get up, I do devotions, pray, drink some coffee, and now I ask God which tasks and projects from my lists I should tackle today? I factor in any events on my calendar, and which tasks/projects are needing to get done sooner than later. When I know what needs to be tackled, I write my “to-do” list for the day, and I have a plan of action! When the babies are up, I’m not still meandering around my messy brain, and thinking about a million different things I need to do at some point! It’s so awesome!
As new events, tasks and projects come up, I write them down immediately, and can plug them into the system later. This can be something as simple as a thought that says, “I should go through the kids toys and give some away,” or your husband saying, “Can you drop off this payment for me?” or a friend calling and saying, “Let’s have lunch.” Write it down and don’t just add, and add, and add to the clutter in your mind!
I find that I have more ease of mind because I don’t have to remember everything! It’s in my head, and then out of my head, and I’ll get to it when it becomes the priority of the day! Guess what else? When I am playing with my kids, I am not thinking about all of the things I need to do! I am able to give them more undivided attention, and it is so nice! Isn’t the goal to enjoy life while you’re doing life!?
I hope I have given you some inspiration, and practical steps you can begin taking today to get more done in less time! If you want more detail watch the video at the link I gave above – it’s more thorough. In the meantime, here is a graphic I got from the site: