motherhood

Interview with Joanne Kraft

My guest today is a woman who knows what she’s talking about when it comes to mean moms. Joanne Kraft is a phenomenal writer and speaker – but she didn’t get there overnight.  She is a mom of four incredible kids and has spent most of her time learning from them on how to be a mean mom.

She is the author of Just Too Busy—Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical and her recent book The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids. She’s been a guest on Focus on the Family, Family Life Today and CBN. Her articles have appeared in ParentLife, Today’s Christian Woman, In Touch, Thriving Family, P31 Woman and more. Joanne and her husband, Paul, recently moved their family from California to Tennessee and happily traded soy milk and arugula for sweet tea and biscuits.

I can’t wait for you to hear the wisdom Joanne has brought with her today. Let’s do it!

IN THIS EPISODE

  • What a mean-mom looks like.
  • Your child’s independence.
  • How to teach your kids to lean on the Lord.
  • The legacy you want to leave
  • The role dad plays
  • How to rock your husband’s world.
  • How to deal with regret.
  • Why God gives us our children specifically to us.
  • How to forgive ourselves.

PERSPECTIVE

For the mom who wants to throw in the towel.

Joanne shares a story she has never told anyone before.

WEBSITE LINKS

www.joannekraft.com This is Joanne’s website where you will find links to her books, articles, and inspiration.

On Facebook

On Instagram

ENCOURAGING VERSE

James 1:2-5 “Count it all joy, my brothers,[b] when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

CONVERSATION

What part of the interview, if any, changed your perspective? Do you struggle with disciplining your child? Why/why not?  Do you carry guilt with you for long periods after the discipline was given days, weeks, months ago? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Free Hugs

Guest Post by Gabby Shumate My 8 month old impeccable example of a son threw a tantrum yesterday. It started as a slow, whiny fake-cough that I have literally no idea where he could have picked it up from. Lately he’s been using this instant fake cough in various situations – to get attention, express disgust, laugh in agreement, you get the picture. Yesterday, it was to loudly complain that his body would not do what his mind had already surmised. See, he’s the best sitter-upper that ever did live. He’s been doing it for months, something his basically walking twin brother has never done correctly. His body just won’t move the way he wants it to. Instead, he results to rolling around on the floor like some partially-drunk piglet practicing the barrel rolls more dramatically than a Real Housewife when the somersaults were a little too challenging in P.E. class (come on, we all did it).

hugs
I looked to my husband, eyes gawking, and asked if it was really starting this early. See, I’ve seen it happen in grocery stores, on playgrounds, in restaurants, and in the homes of my family members and friends. I never know how to react when I see it. I didn’t know how to react when it happened to me. Do I tell him “No” in a stern voice? Do I pick him up? Do I move him into the position he so much desires? Do I leave the room and let the children fight it out in a weird Lord of the Flies meets Hunger Games scenario?? (Never. If I remember correctly, Piggy dies, and Harry’s thighs touch, so they’re practically the same person). I tried something new, probably futile, but I find in uncomfortable situations, doing something productive or keeping busy lightens the tension. I got on my hands and knees like a crazy person and crawled around him, loudly narrating the alternating patterns of my arms and legs while I happily explained “Look! Mommy can crawl to whatever toy she wants! I’m so mobile and independent! Look at me!!”

Harry stared at me like I was an idiot – it happens often. I can’t fault him. He’s incredibly witty and sarcastic. He knows when I’m being ironic. But, he stopped whining. He laughed, and he went on to play with a different toy. The next day, he crawled two feet. He’s not exactly winning the Olympics, but he’s making progress, and that, my friends, is a celebration. Did Harry learn to crawl just from watching me one time? No. I crawl with my boys all the time. I stand with my boys all the time. I walk with my boys all the time. Every day, I sit them in the high chairs while we eat our dinner in the hopes that one day we can go to a restaurant without fear or anxiety. Every day, I give them a bath, brush any existing teeth, and put them in bed. Every day, I change their clothes. Every day, I pull the athletic one, Davis, off of Harry and explain to Harry that his brother isn’t being mean, but he just loves him so much and finds him so interesting that he has to have physical contact. Then I explain to Davis that Harry doesn’t like it when he lays on him like Hulk Hogan, but prefers to hold hands instead. He’s a lover, not a fighter. I tell him about personal space.

Sometimes, I get crazily lost in the routine of twins. Wake up. Change Clothes. Play. Drink a bottle. Take a Nap. Play. Eat Food. Change Diapers. Play. Clean the bathroom because Davis thinks he’s Shamu giving a show in Seaworld stadium and the world is his splash zone (That’s a terrible example. Watch Blackfish. Down with SeaWorld).  There’s so many tasks to complete that sometimes I forget that their childhood is meant for setting examples. It’s meant for practicing. We’re practicing how to have friends. I’m setting an example for appropriate table behavior. We’re gaining valuable life skills that will make us happy and productive human beings! See, I don’t say it like that because, man, is that a lot of pressure. But it’s true.We are called to be imitators of God. It is only natural that our children are imitators of us. Most of what they learn, they learn from me. So, the things that I’m bad at, I practice more. The things that I’m good at, I freely give. Unconditional love, I got that. Laughter, I got that. Grace, I use it every day. Using a toilet, yep, I’ve been doing that one for years. I’m trying to give them the best parts of me. My husband will give them the best parts of him. Maybe, all that good stuff, all that practice, and the incredible strengths and individual talents and personalities that God has blessed them with will all melt together in this incredible masterpiece who is not just capable of great things, but will one day reach full potential.

Making Lanterns

Guest Post from Mary Kelso I stepped outside the church on a Monday afternoon after getting some papers signed for my kids to go to church camp.  We were under the awning, waiting for the rain to let up so we could run to the car.  A woman was standing there; she had attended a funeral in the building earlier in the day and was trying her best to hide the cigarette in her hand so my boys wouldn’t see her.  I said hello and she immediately explained how bad she felt smoking… at a church… in front of kids… “I’m just so ashamed.”

We talked for a little while, and though I wasn’t concerned about her hiding her cigarette, I was grateful to her for caring what my kids saw.

That doesn’t happen very often.

I am never so tempted to go all “mama bear” on people, as when I see them blatantly and carelessly displaying their filth in front of my kids.  Bumper stickers with obscene profanity, t-shirts with course jokes and gestures, commercials with unsavory and distasteful messages, angry outbursts or frustrated diatribes of strangers in a store littered with words no one should have to hear, let alone kids.  Yet, somehow the shame that the woman with the cigarette was feeling, is nowhere.  I feel angry and helpless at times.

I think I’m not alone.

lanterns
You know what makes me feel better?  Letting my kids know that God loves those people. Teaching my kids that they should pray for the angry girl in the beat up car with the “anti-Christian” bumper sticker, does more for my soul than putting a bigger “fish sticker” on my own vehicle.  It really does.

See this world isn’t getting any healthier to live in.  Even in the sweetest, quietest, towns there are people full of darkness, there always has been, but when I was a kid, more people were ashamed of the darkness, and tried to hide it.  Today we live in a world where darkness is called light and light is more and more considered the bully on the playground.  My kids are growing up in that world and as a parent, it’s my job to give them the right eyes to see with.

I can’t hide them from it, but I can prepare them for it.  I sent them to private school for a while, not because I was shielding them from the world, but because I was filling them with the Word.  I plan to homeschool them this fall, not because I’m hiding, but because private school is expensive and my best subject is their best offense in a world against truth.  The Word.  Prayer.  It’s what we will study first every day.

I have no intention of keeping my kids from being exposed to the darkness; it’s the darkness that should be hiding from what we are producing in our home.  We are making light.  The light is a sign of welcome, of comfort, of escape from the unknown.  I’m making lanterns, not molding hermits.  I am flavoring their character with salt, and brightening their countenance with truth.  I’m not educating them on how the darkness works, because when the true Light comes, it has to flee anyway.

Yes, they will have to navigate some dark paths, among mean spirited people, but they won’t have to fight the people, their battle, and mine, is not in shushing the people.  I have to put my “mama bear” away, silence my roar, and let the Light speak for Himself.  I don’t want to silence the people, I want to shut out the darkness and bring the people into the Light.

I can’t teach my children to be followers of Christ and leaders of men, by out-shouting the opposing view.  I must out-shine it.

My boys love Jesus, that’s the start.  They recognize right and wrong, that’s a step.  They must be FULL of the gospel, FULL of the Holy Spirit, FULL of the Light of Christ, and then they will be able to stand at the edge of a hurting world and with confidence speak the words of welcome to those who desire to come out of the darkness.

The advantage of a world in darkness is the obvious presence of the Light.

I do not have to arm them with arguments, I simply hand them the Word.

I do not have to shield them with law and judgment, I simply educate them with grace.

I do not have to mark them with slogans and symbols, I simply fill them with Light.

We truly do not wrestle with flesh and blood, that’s an unfair battle because we are using a sword on someone who is already broken and bleeding.  We must focus our battle on the darkness that imprisons them.

My kids need my example, more than they need my “mama bear” façade.  They need to see that I am afraid of nothing, and that every darkness is under my feet.  They need to see that I am not leading them from my opinion of right and wrong, but I am completely reliant on the Word made flesh, the Light of Life.

We are encountering a vicious enemy, but that enemy fights in chains and a leash.  Our Lord told us that we would face tribulation, but that He has already overcome the world. The darkness is simply hiding that from those who have not met Christ.  I refuse to hide my children.  I am preparing them to speak the truth, live Christ’s love to all those they meet and speak His truth fearlessly to all the world.

Chaos & Peace

Guest Post from Mindy Evans Leaving the house is not a simple task any more.  It hasn’t been for quite awhile.  I watch my parents leave the house.  My dad gets his keys.  My mom gets her purse.  They put their shoes on.  And they leave.  It seems so, I don’t know, simple.  When we leave the house there is so much involved, it’s almost as if I should hire an events coordinator.

We begin by determining when we need to leave.  Even this is tricky.  For example, if we have to be somewhere at 6:30, and it takes 20 minutes to get there, normal people can leave at 6:10, or 6:00 if they’d like to be a bit early.  In order for us to leave at 6:10, we have to leave at 5:55.  I need to calculate when we need to leave in order to leave when we need to leave.  Are you confused yet?  Because you should be.

chaos

After determining the time to leave, I call all the kids down from the family room.  This is when things really start to get unstable.  Little kids run to our cubby hole area.  You know, the area we had specially made so that the coats and shoes and backpacks of each kid would have their own special space and the area would remain neat and organized.  (Feel free to stop now with me in my story so that we can all laugh together.  Let us find the amusement in these unfulfilled dreams parents sometimes have when we get really good ideas for managing our family but forget to factor in that the people we are managing still use their shirts as napkins, eat food off the floor, and wear the same underwear at camp all week.)

Things are suddenly loud and chaotic.  Kids can’t find shoes.  Kids that can find shoes are sitting on the shoes of the kids who can’t find their shoes.  Other kids say they found their shoes but upon further examination, they have on sandals and its 20 degrees outside or they have on boots and 90.  I stop to call for the teenagers.  They yell, “Coming!”  Someone is tattling and someone is crying.  I notice the TV and the lights are still on upstairs.  So, I send up a kid to turn them off.  I help tie shoes and find shoes and reassign weather appropriate shoes.  The baby is crawling now and tries to make a break for the door every time someone leaves to go out to the van.  He must be closely monitored.  As all the littler kids head out the door, I call for the teenagers.  They say, “Coming!”  (Let’s all stop to laugh together again.  We know they probably are not, in fact, “coming.”)

As we actually head out the door, the baby spits up on my shirt and someone says, “Sullivan pooped!”  Back in we go.  My shirt is salvageable with a wet cloth and the diaper gets changed.  I call for the teenagers.  They say, “Coming!”  (It’s not funny anymore.)  When I get back out to the van, the kids are getting in, but someone has tripped and needs a band aid.  Back in I go.  I come back out, and we all load in.  The teenagers have surfaced and are getting in the van.  Time for a head count.  We’re missing one.  Channing (5).  She is the one I sent upstairs to turn off the lights and the TV.  Back in I go.  She’s sitting quietly on the floor watching the TV she was supposed to be turning off.  I just have to smile.  And part of me really just wants to join her.  I’ve just been smacked in the heart with that feeling of how blessed I really am.

But I wasn’t always this way.  Years ago, as a younger mom, the word “smack” would have shown up in my story in a much different way.

When I had my fifth baby, it was a difficult time.  He was a very needy little fella and I was beginning to question my abilities as a parent to many children.  This is not to say that I didn’t have moments at four, or three, or two, or even one, when I wondered what in the world I had gotten myself into.  But, when we had our fifth, it was the beginning of a big decision for my husband and I to have a large family.  I was standing in the kitchen, trying to console the inconsolable eight week old and praying, “I just don‘t think I can do this. Please, please give me more patience and strength to deal with all this.”  I was overwhelmed and tired and questioning whether God really knew what He was doing when He spoke to my heart and then to my husband’s heart about growing our family.  And then, I sat back and waited for God to reach down out of the sky and bop me on the head with his magic Strength and Patience Wand.  And, so I waited.  And waited.  But, it didn’t exactly happen that way.

God spoke to my heart over the next few weeks as I continued to whine and groan.  He reminded me that He has already given me all I need to do all the things He has called me to do.  I’ve heard the fruit of the spirit described in a way such that you are given a seed, or an amount, as soon as you are saved.  After that, you must cultivate it to get it to grow. Good fruit doesn’t just pop up on a tree or vine the day after it’s planted.  I needed to start accessing and taking care of what I was already given before He would give me more.

I needed to start behaving like the parent God already saw me to be.  

In the parable of the talents, the man gave his servants a certain amount.  They had to show themselves worthy of that amount before he gave them more.  But, this is my favorite part.  In Matthew 25: 15, it says that the master gave each one, “according to his own ability.”  POW!  Guess what.  I am able.  The almighty God of the entire universe already believes I am able, and He has given to me accordingly.

Now, please understand, no part of me believes I am able on my own.  Every ounce of ability that I have to do anything at all comes from Him, and I am in constant need of His resources.  I just need do my part.  I must partner with Him to get anything worthwhile done. Philippians 2:13 reminds me of this.  It is God who works in me.

So, while I still have my moments of feeling overwhelmed and tired and unworthy and let’s face it, slightly unhinged, I wasn’t always able to smile and have peace in the middle of chaos.  I’ve grown tremendously.  The bop on the head never came.  I believe God can bop you on the head.  (There are times I wish He would bop people on the head.  But not necessarily in a holy way.  And for this, I ask forgiveness.)  But, He usually doesn’t work that way.  Spiritual matters take time, and along the road mistakes are made.  Returning to the parable of the talents, we should consider the possibility that the servants who came back to their master with a return, may also have messed up and been discouraged along the way.  Maybe the one with five took a chance with three, lost them, but was wise with the last two and ended up with ten.  Maybe he learned lessons and prayed to be a good steward and it all worked out in the end.  Who knows.  But, I’d sure like to think it.

Luke 12:48 says that because I’ve been given much, much is required of me.  I think we can agree, if you’ve been given many kids, you’ve been given much.  But, listen good to me when I say, if you’ve been given just one, one little image bearer, one little precious gift, you, too, have been given much.  Much is required, but partnered with Him, I promise, you are able.

Making Memories

Guest post from Jennifer Deshler. I was planning to write a post about Proverbs 14:1 today.  But I’m not feeling much like a wise woman at the moment. Parenting is hard, ya’ll. #justkeepingitreal

Knowing I’m not the only mama who probably needs to shake it off today instead of reading about how to build the perfect home, let’s talk about having FUN.

memories

I didn’t grow up in a fun home—it was loud, but not a fun kind of loud. In my early elementary years, I remember daydreaming about things I’d do with my kids when I was a parent. Experiences that would tell my little ones I loved them in fun ways.

Have you noticed that humor and levity are often traits we most enjoy in our friends? When we think about the people we want to spend time with, it’s the ones who are easy to get along with. They smile, they laugh, and they have adventurous spirits.

Often we have to fight to make space for fun in our homes.  We’re nursing babies, changing dirty diapers, separating siblings when they fight, navigating the choppy waters of teen hormones, and being a rock when hearts get broken. And there are lunches to pack and dinners to make, laundry to wash, and stories to be read. My muscles tense just thinking about it all.

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength- Nehemiah 8:10

Our kids won’t remember the dishes or the laundry or the errands we run. But they will remember that we made them laugh. They’ll hold tight to every late night Dairy Queen run and each spontaneous game of Go Fish, and those after-dinner contests to catch the most fireflies. Because, no doubt, in every one of those memories, we’re smiling. And more concerned with creating a special moment than cleaning the house.

A happy heart is like good medicine. But a broken spirit drains your strength. Prov. 17:22

The best part about making space for laughter and joy in our homes? We all reap the benefits. There’s less tension. We’re willing to offer more grace to each other. And those giggles and smiles raise our serotonin levels (how awesome is God that He created a chemical reaction inside us that makes us feel better when we smile?!) Fun offsets the hard work of parenting.

If you’re having a tough time with motherhood, just leave the dishes and ignore the to-do list, and go have some fun with your family. Listen for deep, happy belly laughs from your kids—tuck those away for the tough days. Pause at a stoplight and cherish the fact that every kid in the car is asleep after long hours of playing together. Let your family see the silly side of you, and remind yourself she’s still in there.

Here are some of our favorite ideas for making fun memories:

Having a hooky day from school for no reason. Eating ice cream for dinner. Announcing surprise vacations upon arrival at the airport. Using an accent at the grocery store to see how people react when they walk by.

What about you? Share your ideas in the comments below!

Interview with Gabby Shumate

She may be our Pastors daughter, but she truly has been a great friend. When I think of the word joy I think of Gabby Shumate.  She is one of the funniest women I have ever met and is always one that never leaves any details out when telling a story. Gabby is a brand new mom to twin boys, Harry and Davis. She has begun to write on her new blog, MrsGoldbergSays.com.

I can’t wait for you to meet her.

It’s going to be fun (and maybe a little gross)!

IN THIS EPISODE

  • Miscarriage
  • How she lived in fear during her pregnancy
  • Delivering NICU twin babies.
  • Pregnancy is not as glamorous as she thought
  • Raising two different personalities
  • Asking her dad, “will Harry ever come home?”
  • We must speak into our kids’ lives
  • Bullying
  • Motherhood can have you feeling alone
  • Moms need grace

PERSPECTIVE

Motherhood is what she thought it would be

LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

Gabby’s Website

ENCOURAGING VERSE

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

MY FAVORITE TAKE AWAY

We must speak into our kids’ lives.

CONVERSATION

What part of the interview, if any, changed your perspective? Did you have a hard pregnancy? Tell us about it. As a new mom, what is your biggest concern as a parent?

Join The Launch Of Perspectives : The Mom Experience

Launch website
In April, I did some video interviews with 8 of my closest friends.  I had the idea of recording conversations with them as we talked about being a mom. Interviews of  a friend that just recently adopted, a friend that is in the midst of raising teenagers, a friend that is a pastor of a church, alongside her husband, and raising some incredible “PK’s”, and the list goes on.  The idea was to each day bring an interview on this website leading into Mother’s Day.  But, how many know God’s ideas are always bigger. On June 15, we will launch something that has been dear to my heart. As I have traveled to speak in different parts of the country, I have heard countless stories from mothers. Stories of tragedies and triumphs, stories of faith and perseverance either in a situation raising their toddler or of a circumstance they had no control over.

Hearing these stories changed my outlook. It changed the way I think, at times. It gave me a new perspective.

Just recently, a large church produced a video. They asked the question to several moms, “Describe yourself as a mother.” On screen, one by one, they said words like – perfectionist, doubts about my ability, struggle with my temper, I wish I knew how to, I wish I was more confident, and I want them to know how much I love them.

They asked the moms to come back, sit down and see what their kids had to say about them. With tears down these mothers’ eyes, they heard - my mom is - totally awesome, she’s fun to snuggle with, she’s pretty, funny, unique, and that’s why I love her so much. Words like she’s my heart because she’s the closest to me and my mommy’s my hero.

Perspectives will be a place that allows you to see things differently and the ability to learn from each other as we listen to what others have experienced.

Friends, I cannot tell you how excited I am about this.

Through story, my hope is we can give you a place that shapes your own perspective.  Sometimes the perspective we have over our own situation looks differently when we hear another’s perspective.

Either through a video interview, a podcast, or a blog post, you will hear story after story from real moms about a real God that makes Himself known in all of it.

Perspectives will be a place where stories will dare you to take the next step. Ever thought about adoption, but never knew the faith it entails? Maybe you’re raising teenagers and feel like everything the world says about them scares you or maybe you’re a brand new mom and doubt yourself.

But, what if there was a place where you could go that you could hear from other moms, real moms, which changed all that? A place where your everyday mom had fought a fight yet finished her race. What if real moms, with real stories came and shared what God did in their family, their finances, their whatever, yet you got excited and it grew your Faith in Christ because you left without a shadow of doubt knowing He could do it for you too.

This is the goal for Perspectives: The Mom Experience.

That you would leave differently than the mother you were before.  That you will feel dependent on Christ instead of yourself, because you have a confidence in Him.

The excitement is building because we want to bring you amazing stories of real moms – whether they are wives, professionals, celebrities, and everyday people – who have had life-changing encounters with God.

This is what Perspectives: The Mom Experience will be and it launches on June 15.

Sign up to be a part and get a sneak peek video interview featuring Lisa Whittle and be the first to know details about the launch.

We sometimes choose the most locked up, dark versions of the story, but what a good friend does is turn on the lights, open the window, and remind us that there are a whole lot of ways to tell the same story. – Shauna Niequist

[clickToTweet tweet="Join the launch and receive a sneak peak video interview from our experience raising teenagers." quote="Join the launch and receive a sneak peak video interview with our experience raising teenagers."]

Mothers of the Bible - Mary

maryIf you have spent most of your life trying to measure up to the Proverbs 31 woman, you can pretty well add me to the list of “I-don’t-measure-up”. I seem to never get by the verse 15 “she gets up while it’s still dark”.  I think I can count on one hand when I have gotten up before dark on purpose. The impression of this mother is family-focused, cooks well, hard-working, beautiful and keeps house amazingly tidy. I don’t think she would have liked me much if she ever walked into my house.

This is why I love that the Bible gives us stories of other mothers. Mothers that weren’t perfect; Mothers that questioned God; Mothers that were once barren and a mother that stayed when the rest of the world left.

Mary – Mother of Jesus

She was engaged to a man named Joseph at an early age (some say 12 or 13) but all that was about to change from a visit from an angel – Gabriel.  She heard the most incredible news that she was going to have a child and he was going to be the Son of the Highest. Can you imagine the task that was just given to her? Gabriel didn’t tell her, “Well, see Mary this son that you are going to carry, birth and mother will one day be beaten, bruised and nailed to a cross for all the world”. How many of you would have agreed to that? Not me. Mary only asked how, how will this be.  Gabriel gave her the answer and Mary not only said yes, she said:

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Luke 1:38

I don’t want to talk about the disgrace she was given as an unwed mother or that she almost lost Joseph while she was carrying Jesus. I want to talk about her strength and obedience as she mothered. She was the only person to be with Jesus his entire life – from birth to death. She gave birth to a baby and watched him die as a Savior. Still, she willing submitted to God’s plan.  She was young, poor and a female which at that time were not good characteristics to have. People would see her as unusable by God for anything major, like carrying the Messiah! But God chose Mary for one of the most important acts of obedience He has every asked of anyone.

As a mother she changed his dirty diapers, comforted him while he was teething, taught him how to walk and talk. Can you imagine hearing Jesus saying “Mommy” for the first time?

Fast forward 33 years later and she is now at His Crucifixion. It is impossible to imagine how Mary felt as she watched her son tortured and killed. Jesus had been her baby, the boy she educated, the young man she was proud of.  Yet, while dying on the cross, her son was concerned for her.

When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. John 19:26-27

He knew her sacrifice that she made and wanted to make sure she was taken care of.

She never left his side as a child and never left him as he was crucified.

Mary is real motherhood.

So do you get up before dark? Tell me why.

What does the story of Mary show you as a mother?

Our Children are Watching

children
What situation will help you grow more? Taking a retreat with your Bible in solitude or taking a trip across country in your car with the kids?

Some might say taking a retreat in a remote area with your Bible.  There’s nothing like being able to sit in peace and quiet hearing the gentle breezes of the wind flowing through the trees and if the location has a lake view it’s as though we’ve hit the jackpot with the perfect location for God to speak to us.

Yet, it’s the trip across country in our car with the kids where we truly grow from.

Why?

Because during tough situations, who we truly are comes forth.

In this situation, our patience may be tested so we find ourselves praying and asking God for more patience not realizing that He gave us all the patience we need.

We have to understand that God uses the process of parenting to shape us.

[quote]2 Corinthians 7:1 – Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God[/quote]

Part of the shaping comes out of this one word:

Holiness.

We pray to purify our spouse, the driver that just cut us off, others around us, but we are to purify ourselves.

Why?

To perfect Holiness out of reverence for God.

For God…not to God.

To explain the preposition of To vs. For - when we say the word TO it is used when something is moved or transferred. When we say the word FOR it is when we refer to a purpose or when something is to the benefit of.

What’s the benefit? His promises

We must begin or continue to purify, the Bible says, everything that contaminates body and spirit.  Now everyone has their own convictions of how they treat their body or what they put into their body. I get that.  We also need to purify things like resentment.  Maybe we wish we had a better childhood or better parents only leaving us with the reasons as to why we are the way we are with all the excess baggage of guilt and shame; feeling of inadequacy or doubt.

Why?

So that we can perfect holiness.  We need to strive for this so that our children begin to see what holiness looks like.

Our kids are watching us. What it means to be a mother or a father. What it means to be a husband or a wife.

With marriage we get to choose who we spend life with; when we parent, we don’t get to choose.

So when I deal with things like resentment or shame, I can choose to let sin tear apart my family or I can use my family or experiences to tear apart my sin. - Tweet that!

Purification.

What about negativity?  I hate what this does.  I was raised in a home where it seems that all I heard was negative things.  As I got older I realized my grandparents from both sides were the same way.  It was a learned trait that my parents learned and were teaching me and my siblings. I had to make a conscious effort, and still do today, to speak positive things in my life, over my kids, over my home and over my situations to purify the future.

Our kids will pick up on negativity. It’s time to get serious or our kids will adopt these things.

Purification.

What about relationships with God?

Moms and Dad’s we have to let them see it.  Our kids today need to see us reading our Bibles, praying with our spouses, trusting in our Provider.  Posting the best status on Facebook or retweeting the best scripture has the least long-term effect to the foundation in Christ we give our children.

[quote]1 Timothy 4:16 – Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and hearers.[/quote]

Who listens more to us than our children.

We need to change our attitudes of bitterness or selfishness into grace and love. We need to change our attitudes of regret or shame into forgiveness and mercy.

Acknowledging that we learn more from God in those everyday spills or missed curfews to change and purify us than in the moments on the lake.

Jealous of a Mother's Strength

It’s Day 3 in this beautiful country of Guatemala and yet again I leave a people that God has truly put on my heart. This is Margarita.  Her smile is infectious.

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When our eyes connected as we were first introduced by our translator, I sensed a commonality with her.

Mom.

She shared with us how she tried for seven years to have a child and how God “finally” blessed her with a beautiful daughter named Eva.

She told us about her husband Jose and how he works as a day laborer. Telling us how difficult it’s been to find work lately and how he is currently working as a farm hand coming home every other week.

Her home is no more than 500 square feet yet she is so humbled with what she has.

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She’s a mother, like so many of us, yet my heart had ached for her.

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It was as though I wanted to wrap my arms around her and tell her what an amazing job she is doing.  To look her in the eye and tell her she’s beautiful.  To let her know that every seed she has sown in her garden and every tear she has shed longing for a child did not go unnoticed.  That God has been with her every step of the way and will continue to walk every step with her.

She’s a mom like so many of us. Yet I find myself jealous of her strength.  To endure the conditions of dirt floors and a wooden bed frame with no mattress is not endurance for her but spoiled comforts for me.

One of the many things I love about Food for the Hungry is how they have helped Margarita with the purification of her water by providing a water filtration system in her home allowing her to provide good, clean water for her and Eva.

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Margarita also showed us the greenhouse that she and 14 other women have recently “co-op” with planting zucchini and soon to be other vegetables to plant and harvest. The land is generously being rented by “Don” Jose with seeds provided by Food for the Hungry (FH).

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 It just blows my mind!  Why would you not want to be part of this incredible organization? I’ve seen the “fruit” with my own eyes.  FH truly impacts these communities and has helped so many families here in Guatemala providing them with food, water filtration, education, and life skills that truly have helped the family unit stay viable and strong, which is so important to the Guatemalan culture.

If you would like to find out how you can get involved with Food for the Hungry and help mothers like Margarita, then click here to be a part of this incredible opportunity.

Photo credit to the phenomenal Jessica Taylor

Continue following our trip on Twitter using #fhbloggers or reading our blog posts at FHBloggers.com

 

Have You Lost Your Identity?

Sunday night we had some friends over and between mine and her kids are a total of 9 kids!  It was one of those nights where we ate, talked, played games, talked, ate some awesome banana pudding and talked.  With all the talking you would have thought we solved all the problems of the world! Love those moments in life. In our conversation, we were discussing a season that mothers go through when the kids are now beginning the school years and somehow an identity crisis sets in. Women begin to doubt who they are and what they are suppose to do in this world.  Somehow being a mom is not satisfying. I went through the same crisis myself.

For the month of January, I will be discussing on a Mother’s Identity Crisis.

Here is what I need from you.  I need your input. If you’re a new mom or a seasoned mom, a mom that is right in the midst of finding your place in life or have been there, done that, I need YOU! Tell your friends. Tell your mommy friends, but tell someone to come over on the MOM link this month and lets discuss this identity crisis.

See you tomorrow!

A Child I Wasn't Planning On

Continuation from Part II A few weeks had gone by.  I didn’t really tell anyone.  I was embarrassed.  Yes, I knew what the pill was.  Yes, I knew how you could get pregnant.  But come on! Why now?

I found out I was pregnant in November and on a Tuesday in December I had a dream.  In this black and white dream I remember looking down and seeing feet and knew some how these feet were in relation to me.  I looked up and saw thousands and thousands of people what looked like the inside of an arena.  I woke up and said to myself, “Whatever that was”. Never spoke to Jose or anyone about it.

Wednesday evening we went to church as usual.  But this Wednesday service was different. Our pastor in Denver, which was our pastor for 10 years, at times moved in the prophetic.  An orderly prophetic.  He pulled me from where I was standing during our worship service and spoke this over me, “Michelle, God wants me to tell  you that the dream that He gave you was not a hallucination, but that this child inside of you is called to the ministry”.  At that moment there was an overwhelming peace that came over me. There it was…purpose.  Every question, every why, was answered in that moment.  But it wasn’t over.

February rolled around and it was time to find the gender of the baby.  It was going to be a girl.  Jose and I walked out of the doctor’s office spoiled by God because we now will have two boys and two girls.  The all American family.  As Jose walked a few steps ahead of me on the way to the car, I remember talking to God and telling Him, “She’s going to do for you what I didn’t do for you” and in that instant His Holy Spirit spoke over me, “I didn’t write you off, you wrote yourself off”.  Powerful words.

That is why I am writing this to you.  Telling you my story.  My goal with this blog and the Mom section of this blog is to share with you my experiences as a mother and through that experience show you what God has done for me along the way.  How He has matured me as a wife and mother.  How he taught me to love when I thought I wasn’t worthy of love myself. That through each trial, each storm, He was there waiting for me and He’s there waiting for you.

I don’t know what each story will say, but God does.  Because He is the Author and Finisher of MY faith (Hebrews 12:2).  Let Him be yours too.

Oh and by the way, Hannah is her name and she has a preaching stool and preaches to her stuffed animals.  Boy, you should see her pray!