Parenting

Real Mom Life – Part 1

Some days I have it together if I must say so myself. Other days, well, not so much. In this post I’m going to deal with the latter. Stay tuned for part two, which is a much prettier display of motherhood packaged with a little more sanity. 

Oh and spoiler alert…I’m now 2 days past the writing of this post and…I survived.

This morning my alarm went off more times than I’d like to admit and my quiet time was shortened significantly. Why do I do this to myself first thing in the morning?

I rushed around getting all three kids ready because it was a full day and Jake and I were going in different directions. I sent him off with our youngest while I wrapped up the last few morning routines with our two older boys before taking our oldest son to school.

We are in the middle of moving houses and I hadn’t been to the grocery store so my son’s packed lunch options were limited and he was less than thrilled about those options. I informed the boys that we were eating breakfast in the car because not only were we out of time but the bag of pop-tarts and cereal (don’t judge our well balanced menu) was left outside in the moving process. Only then did I realize that my keys were missing and breakfast was locked in the car. My thoughts, “If I don’t find these keys in 7 minutes, our son will be late for school.” I started a frantic search. Nothing. My panic started segueing into ideas of what we could do together if we couldn’t find them. Then we found them, well, Jake did. He accidentally took them and he wasn’t coming home for at least an hour. I called a friend who graciously came, picked up our son and took him to school. 

Problem solved. Now on to the next one. It was 8:15 and I found myself looking at our middle son who was smiling up at me, waiting for me to tell him what we were going to do. The only thing is that I had nothing for him to do (all of their toys and games were packed) and breakfast was still locked in the car. So I went into mommy mode of how I could make this an adventure. 

And so my day started…

In the midst of errands, packing, ministry, moving, meetings and office work, I’m “mostly” a stay at home mom. And with that comes a lot of refereeing, playing judge and teaching. Currently, we are teaching our youngest son not to hit and bite, our middle son to have patience with our youngest and our oldest son that he has to pay attention when we are talking to him. Sometimes I think I’m going to go crazy. I’m not sure how many times I’ve prayed, “Jesus, help me” in the past few days. 

I’ve had a kaleidoscope of emotions from anger to love to frustrations to “I’ve gotta have a moment of silence.” Just one, please! 

And then came that still, sweet voice of Jesus that always teaches me things in the chaos. 

Yesterday I was talking to the boys and wondering if they were even following me or if their stares indicated they were in another world all together. I wanted them to get along. To be kind to each other. To help each other out. 

In that moment, God reminded me that He wants that too. He wants them to know Him personally and while they, ultimately, have to choose for themselves, God has given these children to us to reflect His character to them. 

My patience, my gentleness and my kindness is what they are learning. This season is their classroom and no matter what I say, my actions are teaching them something. It’s a sober thought, but it leads me to pray, “Lord, mold my character to reflect Yours!” 

In the heat of the moment when everyone is calling my name at once, asking questions, telling stories, pulling on my shirt, I don’t usually feel patient and gentle.

Philippians 4:5 says, “Let your gentleness be evident to all…” It’s not too difficult to let my gentleness be evident in public, but “to all” includes my family. This is the class I’m currently taking. 

Now that you know what I’ve been ruminating on, back to my adventure. While, internally, I wrestled with my emotions for the next 12 hours, the day actually ended with sweet memories made. My middle son and I took a walk that ended with breakfast at a bagel shop, the afternoon was filled with more packing and responsibilities and that evening the boys and I had reading time while we ate chocolate drizzled popcorn. 

At the end of the day, these are the moments we will remember.

Stress is so normal in motherhood but we can’t get stuck in the attitudes it naturally produces. May we allow God to stretch us beyond our own abilities into the best moms we can be. And in the process, let’s enjoy every moment we have with our kids, come good or bad. 

Devotionals

Influencers

I’m in the middle of a great book, Refiner’s Fire. It’s a compilation of ODGs’ (Old Dead Guys’, as we call them) words, written down by members of their congregations and unedited.  Every time I pick it up I walk away with a challenge whether I read for ten minutes or thirty. Here is an excerpt from my morning reading and some thoughts it evoked. 

“God forbid that the sheep of His pasture should ever cling to any word that proceeds from our mouth that did not first of all proceed out of the mouth of God. God forbid that any of His sheep should willfully follow any one of God’s ministers in any manner of behavior or teaching, that did not originate in the heart of God.”

It is through union with Christ and a daily infilling of the Holy Spirit that we can truly walk and live and work in His power and anointing. I’m reminded of the Scripture in Isaiah 50:4 that says, “The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back.”

As a parent, a minister, a musician, a writer and whatever other title I’m carrying in a day, I desire to be led by the Holy Spirit in every ounce of my communication. I pray that my words and actions are empowered by the presence of Jesus and that out of that flows change, encouragement and Kingdom advancement. I desire that my life glorifies the One – Jesus – who loves me immeasurably.

What could change if we all walked with the knowledge in the forefront of our minds that within the mundane of the day to day God has equipped us with a purpose that is so much greater than ourselves? We are light bearers called to illuminate the darkness. What could happen if we all woke up and lived out this Scripture? An equally crucial question can be asked. What if we don’t? 

Either way we answer these questions for ourselves, someone’s life will be changed, along with our own. 

I feel so passionate about the fact that there are people waiting for the hope we possess and we have the responsibility to share it. We must daily stay connected to the Source in order to properly portray His character and His life to the hurting.

To all my readers, I hope you will chew on these thoughts along with me and let God speak to you in the place you are at. If you’d like to share, leave me a comment below and I’d love to dialogue about what God is doing in your heart through these ideas and this verse. 

Devotionals

Trusting in the Dark

When we speak of our relationship with God, trust and surrender are so intertwined that we can’t really have one without the other. I’ve grown up hearing the Scripture, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight,” so many times that it’s easy to skip over it while reading, forgetting the impact of what that really means. 

To trust means to have a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something. Other definitions include 1 – allowing someone to have, use or look after (someone or something of importance or value) with confidence 2 – commit (someone or something) to the safekeeping of  3 – have faith or confidence in.

This past year I can think of three major moments in my life where I had to choose to trust. One regarded our uncertain future, another was when God asked me to give something up and the last was something that was taken from us. Each moment required a conscious decision to trust preceded by the decision to surrender. 

We cannot trust God with something that we are still holding onto. It’s only when we get to a place where we come with open hands that we can say we trust Him with all of our heart. Our heart is home to our dreams, hurts, hopes, fears and the deep, hidden thoughts that surround these things. So trusting God with our heart is trusting Him with everything dear to us. 

Learning to trust has not been a one time lesson for me but a lifetime of allowing God to teach me how to let go in each season. 

There’s a kids’ show, Daniel Tiger, that has an episode where the children are afraid of a shadow in the dark and the parents come in to show them what it actually is. They start singing this song, “See what it is, you might feel better. See what it is, you won’t be so afraid…” This is great advice in the natural sense but we don’t always get this luxury in the spiritual realm. 

I love the moments when I can look back and see why God did something a certain way, but the definition “firm belief in” comes strongly into play in the moments when we have no idea why He did what He did. 

As hard as it is sometimes to accept things that have happened in my life, I would rather be at rest by the peace God gives when I surrender than live with a striving spirit, trying to have things my own selfish way.

If any of you are in a season of needing to surrender and trust, I encourage you to just let go of what you are clinging to. Sometimes it’s easier than others and, honestly, at times it’s a daily choice. There have been moments in my life where I have told God, “I choose to obey today. Tomorrow, You will have to help me say it again.” Fill in the blank for what you need to pray. Then choose to obey, trust, surrender or follow in this moment and He will give you strength to do it again in the next.

I imagine Father God takes great delight in our trusting as well as in seeing us walk in peace. Certainly the peace that follows surrender will far outweigh the stress of trying to hold on to anything. 

Cafes, Shops and Stops

Rudy’s Music

My husband searches out music stores in every city we visit and New York City was no exception. Located in Manhattan, Rudy’s Music store was a quaint, two story shop filled with pedals, amps and stringed instruments. We easily spent an hour and a half there looking at gear and talking with the staff. If you’re a music lover and in NYC, check it out.

Cafes, Shops and Stops

Katz’s Delicatessen

The original Katz’s Delicatessen is located in Manhattan and is a must for all visitors. Established in 1888, this restaurant is still going strong, offering delicious food as well as a glimpse of history.

We stopped here during a recent visit to New York City. We ordered the pastrami, per a local’s advice, and it did not disappoint. The portions were more than generous (my husband and I split a plate) and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for good food and tradition. 

Devotionals

Don’t Forget to Remember

After getting our oldest son off to school this morning, my husband said he’d watch the other boys so I could grab a little quiet time. He is so sweet and knows what I need! I’m grateful for the coffee shop 5 minutes from our house – and that it’s open inside! I’m sitting near a window watching the snow fall and loving this moment of stillness in between my sweet life of rowdy boys and non stop talking. 

Unexpected interruption…three hours later…let’s try this again. 

The following is a thought I jotted down forever ago and set aside. I found it today and decided to post it.

This morning, over a cup of tea, I read Deuteronomy 8. The caption in my Bible reads, Do Not Forget the Lord. The Lord is reminding the Israelites to remember Him when they make it through to victory. Here are some snapshots of the chapter: “Remember how the Lord your God led you…When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God…Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God…He led you through the vast and dreadful desert…He brought you water out of the hard rock…He gave you manna to eat…You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability…”

Today I’m reminiscing on my life with God, the good times as well as the difficult ones. I’m reflecting on His faithfulness, discipline and deep, deep love for me.

God never wastes anything in our lives when we surrender ourselves to Him. So whether we’re learning lessons in the desert or in the promised land, He is always working to draw us closer to Himself and to transform our imperfect nature into characters that reflects His own. 

As different ones of you read this, you will find yourselves in various situations. Some are probably struggling, others are enjoying the reward of hard work paid off, still others are in a season of trusting as you have no idea what comes next. Whatever point in the journey you find yourselves in, I challenge you, as I do myself, never forget to remember the Lord and recognize His hand in each season. 

Devotionals

I Need Help

It’s been a while since I’ve written (confession, I’m in the middle of a historical fiction series that I’m having a hard time putting down) so since my husband is watching the boys this afternoon, I decided to make use of the time and share something that’s been on my mind lately – God as our helper.

This isn’t some new revelation for me because I was taught from a young age that the Holy Spirit was given to be our helper and I have experienced Him more times than I can count. But God has a beautiful way of taking something old and making the fact come alive in a new, fresh and deeply personal way. And He’s done that for me recently so I wanted to share what’s on my heart. He’s been making me keenly aware of His help in the everyday moments of life.

This awareness has been life-giving. It has yielded a renewed closeness and partnership with God as we’ve journeyed this crazy life together. 

When we look at this on a deeper than surface level, it is powerful. For me, this has produced a molding of my character and I’ve experienced growth in certain spiritual fruits that I was lacking. I’ve found myself responding in ways that were clearly not my natural instincts. I’ve been mindful to ask God for wisdom and discernment in seemingly insignificant moments that have actually been steps in forming our history and memories. 

I challenge you to take an honest look at yourself and ask God to unveil things in which you need His help. I’m talking anything and everything from big decisions to daily moments interacting with your family. 

My prayer for all of us: 

God, give us teachable spirits and make us aware of Your readiness to help in every area of our lives. As we rely on You for the little, daily things that add up to life changing moments, teach us to act and react in ways that reflect You and bring You honor.