The Ministry of Motherhood

The Ministry of Motherhood

In our home the vacuum has been the dreaded foe of my two year old for as long as I can remember. I don’t know when it happened, but I have a feeling that it was when we were in a public restroom and someone used the hand dryer while I was changing my son’s diaper. I didn’t even realize he was screaming in terror because of the deafening volume of this thing, but the noise must have left a lasting impression on him because every time I would vacuum, the noise would have him running away crying!

Well, even though it was humorous at first we didn’t want him holding on to this fear, so every time we talked about the vacuum we started to teach him to say, “I’m not scared. I’m brave.” Over and over, we would say this every time we talked about the vacuum, but he would still cry and run away or hide in a corner when we got out the beast!

Fast forward to this afternoon, and I am contemplating some things that God has had us step out to do in the last few weeks. There are sometimes temptations to fear when God has you do something that stretches your faith. I happened to be contemplating these things while I was vacuuming! I was lost in thought so I hadn’t noticed that William was standing right there by me with a scrunched up face and a hint of fear still in his eyes, but he was saying out loud as he inched closer, “I’m brave. I’m brave. I’m brave. I’m brave.” He was saying it hard and fast! “I’m not scared. I’m brave. I’m not scared. I’m brave.”

Don’t you love those moments when God teaches you out of the mouth of babes? What great faith was in those words! It may not seem like it on the surface, but this was a deeply spiritual moment! William went with me from room to room and soon he was turning the vacuum on for me (he still high-tailed it out of there when it came on, but then he would return!) Ha!

At the end of our vacuuming hour he was hanging out with the vacuum like it was his old buddy. He even took the attachments and used them like sword and sheath and spent the next 20 minutes relishing in the fact that he had conquered this fear!

William’s new friend!

Moms, don’t ever underestimate the value and importance of your place in your child’s life. What a great privilege and responsibility we have to teach our children to live by faith, and to BE the strong, brave, and bold children God created them to be! You can influence your child’s little spirit even in the daily chores of life!

How about you? Is there something you fear in your life right now? Is it leaving a job? Moving somewhere far away? Making some changes that are going to be hard? Cutting off a relationship? Whatever it might be start saying, “I am not afraid! I’m brave!” If it works for a 2 year old, it will work for you too!

DIY Baby Projects

DIY Baby Projects

DIY baby projects are a great way to put your creativity to work, create memories, and personalize gifts for your friends and loved ones!

Diaper Cakes

I am two weeks away from D-Day and getting ready to welcome my 1st baby girl into the world so I am taking advantage of my moment for frills, ribbons and bows! Someone made a diaper cake for me at my baby shower and I thought the idea was so cute! Once I searched YouTube and Pinterest I was ready to take on this DIY baby project for myself!

This weekend I get the opportunity to host a baby shower for a friend. I knew this was my chance to get the creative juices flowing with a pink and grey masterpiece – not to mention a last chance to do anything creative for at least a few weeks since I will have a newborn in the house again – so I made a diaper cake! What fun!

 Diaper cakes are a great DIY baby project to give away at baby showers!

Mixed Media Art

My mom is a master craftswoman! In fact, it has been her business for over 20 years. She has always inspired me with her creativity, and recently she made some adorable wall decor for the baby. She used mixed media on canvas and created a trio of owls.

Mixed media art is a great DIY baby project to help bring a nursery to life!

Decorative Letters

When my sister-in-law was visiting last year she introduced me to the world of Modge Podge! Once I saw what you could create with some scrapbook paper, Modge Podge and a few embellishments I knew I had to try it! We went shopping and got the goods we needed to create some letters to hang over William’s crib.

Modge Podge letters are a DIY baby project that will add a personal touch to baby’s room!

Baby Clothes

If you enjoy sewing at all then you will really enjoy creating unique apparel, accessories, blankets, etc. for baby! When I was pregnant with William we were sure that we were having a baby girl! I got right to work looking at some of the cute things I could make with ruffles, bows, and frills, of course! My first project was a diaper cover with pink polka dots!

Needless to say, I have been waiting a few years to put that diaper cover to use since our baby girl turned out to be a boy! Soon I can actually use it and even create some new ones (if I ever have the time again!)

Clothes & accessories are DIY baby projects that can explore baby fashion fun!

Whether you like to create beautiful things for friends or you’re looking to make your own personalized baby “stuff,” I hope you get some good ideas and inspiration from this post! Have fun putting your own talents into these projects!

Do you have any good ideas to share? I’d love to hear them! Post in the comments section below or come tell me on Facebook!

Grace for Mommy

Grace for Mommy

“I am what I am by God’s grace, and God’s grace hasn’t been for nothing.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:10

It doesn’t matter who you are – old, young, rich, poor, famous, obscure – when you receive God’s grace, it is a game changer! It changes a man like Paul from a murderous persecutor to a life-giving minister, a boy like David from a shepherd to a warrior king! A girl like Esther is transformed into a heroic and noble queen. God’s grace has continuously worked in ordinary people to enable them to do things beyond their own natural ability.

What does this have to do with motherhood? Everything! While some of the pictures I just painted may sound like a lofty ideal found only in storybooks, it is absolute truth that ministers, kings, queens – MOMS – are what they are by the grace of God! Fellow mommies – never forget this!

Hebrews 4:16 tells us to come boldly to God’s throne of grace. Why? So we can receive mercy and find grace to help in a time of need (well-timed help that comes just when we need it). Have you ever felt like you needed divine help to make it through certain moments of motherhood!? Me too! I am so glad to know that I am not alone!

I need grace when:

  • I’m pregnant, the house isn’t clean, the laundry isn’t done and my toddler is having one of those days when crying seems to be the only way he’s choosing to communicate!
  • I have deadlines to meet, and work to get done, and work just isn’t what I feel like doing today!
  • I have the desire to eat healthy, but cooking something from scratch just didn’t work out (again) and I find myself desiring the drive-thru window because at least it’s food and it will get the job done tonight!
  • I have a wedding shower or baby shower or birthday party to attend and I am at the store trying to buy a gift and get the kid(s) fed 20 minutes before said event begins!
  • I set out to accomplish a lot in a day and it’s looking like one of my greatest accomplishments is going to be taking a shower!

It is in the moments when we NEED God’s grace the most that we must remember that it is available to us if we just ask! 

Sometimes we forget what is available to us! Sometimes we forget to simply pray and ask God for the strength, the patience, the wisdom to walk through certain parts of our motherhood journey – BUT GOD tells us to come boldly before Him and ASK HIM for what we need! The best part is that He will give it to us and it will be perfectly timed! How awesome is that!?

I know some amazing, beautiful, godly mommies! Moms that have 7, 8 kids in the home; moms of children with special needs; moms that find time for homeschooling, part time work, serving at church AND genuine friendship! Every day I am inspired by what I see moms doing! Again and again I see the grace of God operating in the lives of these women, helping them in the season that they are in, carrying them through their daily routines and enabling them to have peace even in a day that feels like a hurricane!

“How does she do it!?” we might ask ourselves. The answer is: God’s Grace! God’s grace IS favor, and it IS freely given (not earned); however, my favorite definition of God’s grace is, “God’s divine, enabling power getting the job done when we can’t do it ourselves.”

Is there something you are going through right now, and it just seems impossible to do it in your own strength? Ask God for help. Do you find yourself in certain moments of the day when it seems like your patience just CAN’T be extended for one more second? Pause. Breathe. Pray. Come boldly to your Father and ask for the grace that He is so ready to give you! Do you just need to get over the mommy guilt and embrace the mommy grace? Do it! Even mommies that “seem” perfect will tell you they are what they are by the grace of God! 

I, for one, needed A LOT of grace today, and I am so thankful that my God was happy to give me some well-timed help! What He does for me, He’ll do for you my friend!

Time Management for Today’s Mom

Time Management for Today’s Mom

Time management is one of the most important skills to learn when running a busy home!

We’ve all been there – the day feels like it’s slipping away from you and you didn’t get half the stuff done that you thought you would. The kids are needing you for homework and dinner. The dryer just beeped indicating your clothes are ready for folding or the other option – for sitting in a damp pile getting wrinkled until you can get to them! You still have to study for that class or finish up that task for work, and your husband would like to spend some time with you too! Imagine that!

All of these daily tasks can become overwhelming if there isn’t some strategy, plan or schedule to help MANAGE all that a mommy must do to run the house! There are many ideas out there for time management; however, all people are not created equal and what works for one may not work for another. As you read below, keep in mind that there will be some take away strategies for you, and some that may not fit your family’s lifestyle. As a mom, I am always happy to hear ideas from other moms, and to glean what I can from those that run a home like a well-oiled machine!

The Unique Woman

God created the female brain in a very unique way! While men were created to think in a very focused, compartmentalized way, women were created to think in a very complex, interconnected way. M.O.M. must stand for “Masters of Multi-Tasking!” This beautiful design has its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, we seamlessly weave our activities throughout the day without too much disconnect when we shift gears. On the other hand, our minds can sometimes feel like they are thinking of twenty things at once, and it’s hard to stop the wheels as they spin incessantly with the things we must get done! Whew! I get tired just thinking about it! As with all God-created designs, we must learn to expertly harness and channel these attributes so we can maximize the intended potential!

So how do we train that beautifully complex mind and get it to focus just enough to accomplish the day’s tasks, while still taking advantage of it’s ability to do multiple things at once? Glad you asked! A little focus goes a long way, and learning to manage your time with a few simple strategies can help you get more done in less time, with less stress! Yay!

5 Tips for Time Management

  • Planning – Take time to look ahead! You might be one who has the monthly calendar up to schedule appointments, children’s activities, due dates and deadlines; or, you might feel comfortable just looking ahead at your week. Either way, taking time to get all of this on paper will make some room in that pretty head of yours!

How to Execute: Calendars, lists, appointment books, charts, sticky notes – use whatever will realistically HELP YOU! Some people get calendars and never look at them. I personally use a monthly calendar to help me remember and keep track of multiple activities going on in any given month. I put it on my fridge where I can refer to it. I might also sit and jot down a “To Do List” for the day or week. As I finish a task I can cross it off my list. I always get more done in a day when I make a list than I do if I “wing it.”

  • Prioritizing – So you’ve made your list…then life happens. This is where prioritizing assists in time management! Pick your Top 5. In your list of things you would ideally like to get done in a day, there are some more time-sensitive or pressing needs. Put these in your Top 5! If you get to everything on your list – YOU ROCK! You were supermom for the day (I love those days!); however, if you don’t get to everything on your list, at least you’ve done the most important things – and YOU STILL ROCK!
  • Delegating – You didn’t have all of those cute kids just so you could post their funny antics on Facebook! These children are teachable and trainable and need to learn responsibility! You will be accomplishing many things when you learn to delegate tasks to your little ones, including saving time! For some of you this may require that you do some training, but it is well worth the time invested to have some handy helpers in the house! For a more extensive look at this grab my book “5 Master Mom Tips on Training Your Kids.” 
  • Learning to Say No – For some of you this will be a big “Aha” moment. Why is it so hard to say no!? We want to help and serve, but we must listen to that inner voice to know when to say yes and when to say no. Some endeavors are TIME WASTERS! For a long time I was in bondage to the desire to be a “people-pleaser.”  It can be exhausting! Learning to say no, and giving yourself permission to say no will help you manage your time!
  • Resting – This made my top 5 tips for time management because many moms are not good at this. Here’s the thing: a tired, burned out mom is a grouchy mom! Your husband AND your children will benefit from YOU getting rest! When you employ some of the above mentioned strategies you can pencil in some time for rest and relaxation! Schedule a date night with the hubby. Plan a trip to get a pedicure with your girlfriends. Set time aside every day for quality interaction with your kids – FUN TIME! In our desire to run our house well we can sometimes forget the WHY behind what we are doing – our family!

After reading this you might be thinking it “sounds nice,” but it’s not realistic for you. Do just this one thing for me: assess your stress. If you are just surviving the motherhood journey and not thriving there is some room for change, growth and improvement! Being a mom is not for the weak of heart. If you never challenge yourself to develop new skills, change will never be a reality! With that thought, I challenge you to take at least one of these time management tips that you are not doing already and make it a part of your life starting now! Then come back and tell me how it’s helping you by commenting below!

We are all here to help each other! We can do more together than we ever could alone! I love you and believe in you because you are a mommy that matters!

Trusting God with Your Teens

Trusting God with Your Teens

What is expected of most teens in modern day culture is rebellion, irresponsibility, immaturity and a general stage of confused “quasi-childhood” where the guidelines for when and how to become an adult are foggy at best.

If you are reading this and you are the mom of a teenager, I want to encourage you! The teen years don’t have to be DREADED years! They don’t have to be filled with worry, fear and low expectations! They can be very blessed years that become a learning and growing experience for both you and your teens!

We need a paradigm shift in our way of thinking about adolescence. Quite frankly many parents just want their teens to escape drug addiction and teen pregnancy, maybe graduate high school and eventually get a job. If they can accomplish that much in today’s culture, they have done a good job raising their kids. While all of the above mentioned goals are good to have, they cannot be the standard that we look to. With our expectations of young people at an all-time low, teens are meeting them…or even coming a little short.

Before you throw stones at me, there is no judgment here. You’re looking at a woman who did struggle with drugs as a teen and DID become pregnant as a teen – I’ve been there – but I desire that each generation after me reaches even more of their potential, and at an even younger age! I believe we all want that for our children!

So how do we navigate parenting in the teen years with great success? Very carefully! Here are a few things that have helped me walk the journey from diapers to the altar with that handsome young man in the picture above (my son, Seth).

Trust God!

Sounds simple enough, right? Yet almost daily there are opportunities to look at what you see in your teen’s life and start the cycle of worry in your mind! Here is a thought to meditate on: God loves your child more than you do and He is smarter than you! I know – hard to hear, but it’s true. He has the plan. He has the answers. He knows all the right ways to lead you as you make the daily decisions that effect this young person’s life.

Imagine for a moment a fish on a line. There are two forces at either end, each one struggling for power amidst the give and take until one of two things happens: the line is held too tightly, breaks and the fish swims away; OR, the line is too loose, there is no control and the fish swims away. There is a third possibility though. The wise fisherman knows when to tighten and when to release the line, drawing the fish into the boat and then, at his discretion, he sets the fish back in the water to swim free – both are happy. The fisherman wisely guided the fish to what it ultimately wanted anyway – freedom.

I cannot imagine how I would have navigated the teen years without God’s wisdom given to me daily in every circumstance. I had to know when to tighten the reins and when to relax them, when to allow my son to make his own decisions and when to set a firm boundary. This fine dance was masterfully guided by someone much smarter than me! The wisest fisherman I know!

Releasing your child to God’s care and trusting Him to guide you is one of the most precious pearls of wisdom I can give to any mom. It’s a simple but profound truth.

See the Good!

This is one of the biggest lessons I had to learn when I saw my son struggling with some poor decision making. I started to focus too much on the attitudes, behaviors and actions that I felt were stifling his growth, and I neglected to focus on the attitudes, behaviors and actions that were developing his character in a very positive way. 

Here is the nugget to take away from this: When we speak to, magnify and focus on the negative that we see in our teens, we are creating an opportunity for them to do the same. When we speak to, magnify and focus on the good we see in our teens, we are also creating an opportunity for them to do the same. God spoke to my heart one day when I was allowing myself to become overwhelmed with some circumstances in my son’s life saying, “Acknowledge every good thing that is in Him in Christ.”

This is not an encouragement to ignore problems or fail to address a need for change; however, it is an encouragement to examine your heart. How do you speak about your child, and to your child. Is your focus on what they fail to do right? Is your focus on constant correction? Do they sense from you that you are consistently disappointed with them? How much do you speak to the GOOD in them? How much do you acknowledge when they please you – even in the small things?

Through every circumstance choose to see the GOOD. It takes faith – so have more faith in God’s ability to develop them than you do in the devil’s ability to destroy them! God is bigger!

Expect Greatness!

I want to leave you with the same thought that we began on – expectations. Don’t fall in line with the expectations of the majority. When you take a look at history, some of the world’s most influential leaders and nation changers were accomplishing great things in the years we now refer to as adolescence! Don’t look at these years in your teen’s life as the stage where they have zero responsibility, zero accountability and freedom to play all their days away. Soon they’ll be twenty something and still lack the skills, strength of character, and financial independence to get out from under your roof and into the great, big “real world.”

Instead, see these years as a launching pad for life! See them as years to develop God given talents, gifts and abilities! Expect greatness and you will be surprised at how your teen rises to meet those expectations! These are not pressure driven demands, but strong convictions that your teen can do and be more than you ever dreamed!

Overcoming Multiple Miscarriages

Overcoming Multiple Miscarriages

There is courage beyond the fear, hope beyond the hurt and joy beyond the pain – just don’t give up!

I have a confession to make. When God started to deal with me about writing this article I was reluctant and not prompt to do it. Why? I believe when we share our own places of pain we make ourselves vulnerable, and it’s not necessarily comfortable; however, I also believe with great conviction that the Holy Spirit helps us to glean purpose from pain, and the treasure we can unearth from our own adversity is often the ability to help others walk through what we have overcome ourselves. 

If you are reading this from a place of brokenness over a pregnancy that ended too early, over a little one that went to heaven before you had the chance to meet; I want to offer you hope, encouragement and peace. I want to glorify God’s goodness and His ability to heal, restore and bring us into victory in the midst of every circumstance. 

After two textbook, healthy pregnancies I expected the same the next time I saw those two blue lines indicating that a new life was growing inside of me. My husband and I were both excited and looking forward to another blessing. When I began to show signs of a miscarriage, we came together and agreed in faith that this baby would live and not die. Quite honestly, I was not afraid! I had every reason to believe that everything would be fine, and no reason to fear. When I miscarried, I was shocked to say the least.

I didn’t have the answer to the question, “Why?” This is where a lot of people get stuck. You might be there now, and if you are, let me help you. When something in your life doesn’t go the way that you thought it would, DO NOT expend all of your energy trying to understand why it happened; instead, focus your heart and mind on trusting God even when you don’t understand, even when you don’t have the answer to the question, “Why?” You must choose to move forward, and be very intentional about transitioning from a place of grief to a place of peace.

As we moved forward, we soon found out that we had quickly conceived again! This was an exciting and rapid recovery from what we had just gone through! We almost had to laugh at how quickly God had turned our sorrow into joy. About 5 weeks into the pregnancy I found myself in excruciating pain that landed me in the ER. I soon found out that I was bleeding internally. I was rushed into emergency surgery so quickly there was hardly time to think. The pregnancy was ectopic, and was removed during surgery to save my life.

I spoke just a moment ago about being intentional in transitioning from a place of grief & mourning to a place of joy and peace. As soon as I got home from the hospital I began to journal, to listen to God’s word, and to meditate on what I was thankful for. I watched a teaching series, Victory Over Death, which helped me tremendously, but I want to share with you a pivotal moment that took place in my living room.

The Battlefield of the Mind

I had thoughts come to me like a flood: sad thoughts, fearful thoughts, angry thoughts – all aimed at unraveling my faith and trust in the only One who could heal me, restore me and give me the victory in this situation. I stood to my feet and began to declare God’s goodness, His faithfulness, His power, His love and His ability to give me the grace to trust when I didn’t and couldn’t understand.

YOU, if you are in that place where wrong thoughts are beginning to eat away at the foundation of your faith and trust, STAND right now and declare that you will choose to trust in God’s grace to empower you to overcome! 

Here’s the deal, when we go through the “hard stuff” in life, we have an opportunity to choose faith or fear, hope or hopelessness, bitterness or thankfulness, resilience or self-pity. We choose to cling to our pain or let go and be free. Some people want their pain more than they want their freedom. Don’t be that person. Choose faith. Choose hope. Choose to be thankful for every good thing in your life, and choose to trust God when you don’t have all of the answers.

When you are intentional about the victory, there is great reward! Three months after these back to back trials, we were pregnant with our beautiful daughter. In about 10 weeks we will hold her in our arms and see her face to face. The period of pain I experienced will be a distant memory and will not even compare to the joy that will flood my heart when I look into her eyes! Her lovely name, Grace, is one that God gave us three years ago. How fitting that she will be a constant reminder of God’s grace and His faithfulness!

I don’t for a moment belittle the reality of the pain that comes with miscarriage, but I DO magnify the reality that God is bigger than that pain. Don’t blame Him, believe in Him to heal and restore. Don’t doubt Him, trust Him to bring you to victory. Don’t remain stuck in sorrow or paralyzed by fear – choose to hope again for God’s best. He will never disappoint!

I love you and I believe in you! I pray that sharing this testimony is a blessing to you and that you will find strength to move forward as a result!

Pin It on Pinterest