Mommas and Babies

In honor of Mother’s Day, and proof that as a mother it’s hard to get anything accomplished in a timely manner, here are some thoughts on motherhood from this momma to all of you mommas out there.

Motherhood is a state of constant learning. Just when I think I have it together, our kids get a year older and there are new challenges. Or child number two comes along and whoa….we are right back at the beginning. Ok, not the very start but boy isn’t each child different? 

It’s also a state of constant selflessness. “And what does that look like?” you may ask. It’s having my quiet moments interrupted by sweet voices saying, “Where are you?” It’s warming my teacup 3 times before drinking it. It’s holding tiny hands and letting the waves crash on our feet rather than swimming in the deep end. It’s doing chores with a baby bouncing on my hip. It’s having food disappear because it’s always better off of mommy’s plate. It’s praying and letting God show me what each child needs.  

It’s exhaustion, patience, frustration and complete joy. Every possible emotion you can imagine could be listed. Nights are long – yet very short – and days are filled with questions and messes and giggles and teaching.

There are moments of snuggles and moments of discipline. There are bedtime stories, play dates, park adventures and, if you have boys, lots of wrestle time. 

As moms, we all have a special job. Every day we get to look into eyes that adore us. We are their world. We get to provide, kiss boo boos, wipe away tears and nurture little humans who are quickly growing into their own person. We are the recipients of their creativity seen through colored pages and crafts made at school. We hold a responsibility that has eternal impact.

I often feel overwhelmed by the nonstop, “mommy, mommy, mommy” that I hear all day but I remind myself that one day that will end and my heart will be broken. They grow quickly and while the love will remain, I know that I will not always be the first one they run to, the first one they need. So, I cherish these moments. I linger in their hugs. I play with them. I put my phone down and look into their eyes.   

Moms, when you feel tired or overwhelmed or question if you’re doing it right, remember you are not alone. God has handpicked you for your children and He knows you both inside and out. Lean on Him and let Jesus guide you as you guide them. 

For all my readers – Happy (late) Mother’s Day

Kids' Corner, Parenting

The Stocking Doesn’t Match

I love – and I mean LOVE – the Christmas season. November and December hold an excitement that is certainly not contained to kids alone. You know what I mean. Like when the weather cools down enough that you want to drink a peppermint hot chocolate or eat gingerbread cookies just because. 

But here’s a transparent moment for you. I have a problem. I want everything perfect. I want to have a plan for the season, execute traditions and have the house free of clutter at least 95% of the time. Ok, 100% would be wonderful but we have three kids. I want the tree looking nice and, while I want help decorating, I want everything done the way I envision it. After all, I am the lady of the house. 

But this year, I’ve been reminded of the importance of embracing the opposite. A few weeks ago me and the kiddos decorated our tree. Or rather, they decorated the tree and I redid it after they were in bed. The night ended and I sat back and relished in the final product. The tree looked great, the nativity scene was up, and the lights added perfect ambiance to the room. It was cozy and I was happy. 

A couple of days later, I noticed there had been some additions. Three homemade ornaments that had been made last year with the kids’ pictures in them were hanging from the branches, and may I add in the smack center of the tree. My first instinct was to take them down or at least hide them in the back. Thank God for giving me the insight to think through this before impulsively following through with it. A few days later I watched as the kids excitedly showed off their ornaments to their grandparents on FaceTime. 

Fast forward a couple of days and it was a repeat moment with much more visibility. I walked into our living room where five, simple red stockings had been hanging to find the middle one replaced with a mint green stocking that had been decorated at school. Our oldest son was all smiles as he worked on his finishing touches by taking down his wooden name piece that was hanging from the original stocking. He informed me that that was no longer needed because his name was clearly written on his green one. I started to protest (at least until our parties were over and it was just going to be family at home), but his joy stopped me in my tracks and I simply asked him, “Do you really want to leave this up even though it doesn’t match?” A big, “Yes” accompanied by his lingering smile was enough to melt away some of my perfectionism. 

We had our parties and the kids’ decorations stayed put. I was a little surprised but I even had a guest comment about the green stocking and why it was different. I just smiled and told her how much our son loved it. 

So this Christmas I’m learning to both let go and embrace. I’m learning to let go of the ideas that I get stuck on, to let go of perfectionism, to let go of the traditions that aren’t conductive in this season of life (we have three boys and I have to remind myself that their idea of fun is usually quite different than mine) and I’m learning to embrace the more important things. The moments we are creating today are the memories our kids will carry with them into adulthood. So for the bullet point people, like myself, I’ve made a list of the things that really matter this holiday season and things I never want to neglect. 

I want to…

  1. Celebrate Jesus and teach our kids the true meaning of Christmas
  2. Celebrate the joy in our kids lives (if stockings and ornaments make them happy, I don’t want to dampen their enthusiasm)
  3. Teach our kids the importance of blessing and giving to others
  4. Slow down, look into their eyes and spend extra time with them doing what THEY like to do – legos, puzzles and, yes, even video games
  5. Include them in our ministry (we are a family and they need to know that they can make a difference even at their age)

If I can let go of all my preconceived ideas and remember these things, I think it’s going to be a great holiday. And I have a sneaky suspicion that we are going to make new memories and traditions that I’m not even expecting.


Real Mom Life – Part 2

Ok, so let’s talk real life as a mom. It’s busy, fun, messy, hard and absolutely wonderful! 

In my last post, I gave you a look into some of my hectic moments of motherhood and a peek into what God has been showing me through it. Today I want to show you the other side. 

If you walk around my house, you’ll find a leaf on our shelf above the sink, a pine cone in one of our baskets, a heart that shows up on the bathroom mirror after hot showers and random dying flowers at any given time. I wish you could see our four year old’s smile every time he picks little flowers and holds them up to me at the door. Or hear our little one say, “Hold you, mommy,” as he looks up with expectant eyes. I love our special songs, handshakes and memory making traditions. 

But you have your own. 

As mothers, I think we all have tendencies to fall into the comparison trap but it’s important to remember that each family is a unique unit with its own traditions and ways of doing things. And that is so awesome. With that said, when we allow God to guide us as we guide our children, then we can glean from each other and share ideas of what works and what doesn’t. 

My litmus test for a successful day of mothering has much more to do with my attitudes and reactions than the kiddos’. And truth be told, when my heart is in the right place, it usually flows over into their responses as well. But along with this I have a mental list, now an actual one because of this post, that I aim for each day. When I accomplish these things, I go to bed feeling satisfied with another day under my belt as a mom.

Every day I strive for…

  1. Time alone in prayer and Bible reading
  2. Gentle responses with my kids
  3. Limited screen time for the kids (except for special “game days”)
  4. Getting the kids active (park, trampoline, sports, etc)
  5. Spending time with them

It’s a full time job but one I would say yes to over and over. 

So to all you moms out there, remember that no matter how many bad days you’ve had, each day is a new day to try again. We can never be perfect on our own but we can be so much more than ourselves with the help of Jesus. (So spend time with Him.) And we need help because we have little eyes looking at us to be their heroes. 

On this Mother’s Day weekend, I hope we will all enjoy time with our kids and remember how blessed we are to own the title “Mom.”


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. 


Parenting with Jesus

Parenting is one of my favorite (and one of the hardest) jobs I’ve ever had. It’s amazing to think that God would entrust us with the responsibility of raising and training little humans. This is not something to be taken lightly. This takes sacrificial love, tough love (aka discipline) and flat out hard work.

Several years back when we had two little ones I reached out to a friend, who had eight kids, and asked her for any parenting tips she would be willing to share.  She offered a variety of great advice but the thing I will never forget was this quote, “I offer God my best and ask Him to fill in the gaps.”

This is so beautiful. When we allow the Holy Spirit to be our teacher, He parents along side of us. Sometimes He changes our character to make us better parents. At other times, He protects our children in moments when we didn’t even know they needed protection. He shows us what each child needs in their own unique, God-given personalities. 

Everyone says that these years pass quickly, and I believe it. If you are a parent with kids still in the house, I challenge you to make the most of this precious time you have with your children. If your kids are already grown, never underestimate the result that prayer and love produces. 

There are many people way ahead of us on this journey (we are only 6 years in) but I pray that something God has shown us can be an encouragement to you. Whatever stage you are at in this process, it is not too late to allow the Holy Spirit to direct you in this responsibility.

The influence that we have within the home is extremely powerful. Our words are being processed. Our lives are being watched. Things we do consciously and unconsciously are being observed and repeated. 

I know at some point our kids are going to face the temptations of this sinful world, but I never want that door to be opened inside of our home. I want our home to be a safe place to talk and discuss, learn and grow. 

For those of you who are like me and enjoy reflection, here are four questions to ask yourself today:

  1. What have I done today to encourage my children in their gifts and talents
  2. What have we talked about today that would direct their thoughts to Jesus
  3. How have I responded to them (under pressure and in calm moments)
  4. Have I prayed for (and with) my children today

It’s never too late to start. It is my prayer that as we walk close to Jesus and introduce our children to Him, they will have a passion to know Him for themselves and they will be world changers. 

Go love your kids today. 

*Side Note

Shout out to my parents. I’m forever grateful for their example. They pointed us to Jesus and showed us by their lives what servanthood and unselfishness looks like.