My highest calling

I just read an article about motherhood, and it was long and full of good things but after I read one sentence I couldn’t focus on anything else. I simply had to write it down and my follow up thoughts.

“Motherhood is a picture of the gospel because it is laying down ones life for others.”

Wow!! I don’t believe I’ve ever thought of it that way, have you?

True motherhood is a sacrifice, true. It’s also extremely rewarding! Being a stay at home mom can feel monotonous, but it’s a tremendous privilege! Pouring all you have out for small-minded, selfish beings that won’t fully grasp what you’ve done for them until a long ways down the road can sure feel like it’s just not worth it. Questions of “when do I get to take care of me?” float through your head from time to time.

For the past 6 or more months I’ve struggled trying to find time for the things that help fill my cup. I’ve made out multiple pretend schedules that make time for housework, helping my husband run our business, school with the kids, working out, and hobbies, but have I been able to implement any of them? Big Fat No!!

I’m not the most consistent person, and maybe I’m not being very realistic with my time. Maybe my workout video says it’s only going to be 30 minutes long but when I’m interrupted by three sibling squabbles, the dog needing to go out to pee, and 2 calls from my husband or front desk person about insurance or billing paperwork it looks more like 90 minutes.

Also I sit down to relax and watch one show on Netflix, Hulu or whatever and end up wasting three hours there.

My only redeeming thought at the end of the day is talking with my children and hearing the amazing people they’re turning into. Are they perfect? No! But are they confident in who they are and that Jesus loves them? Yes! That’s a win for me. That’s my highest calling!

What’s on your plate?

What’s on your plate? No, I do not mean your literal plate, this is not a diet article. Maybe one day, I’ll write down my thoughts on dieting, whether it be fad or lifestyle. Today, I want to ask you about what you spend your time on?

I haven’t written for a while (Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn’t, no matter). The reason being I ladled a huge helping of something onto my plate and it literally pushed things like blogs, hobbies, exercising, and free time off the edge.

In May of this year (2019) my husband and I decided to buy a local business. Technically, we decided to start looking into it and researching around February 2018, but the final papers were signed and the decision final on May 6th, 2019. I knew our lives were going to change, and I braced for it. I figured money would be tight and Reed would be more stressed when not at work, but nothing could have prepared me for the craziness that was about to ensue.

To be fair, there were other complications around the same time that led to us losing our church family, so the earth shattering stress and anxiety that hit about a month in was not all due to owning a new business. We found out that a lot of problems were lying under the surface, and it would have been much simpler to do a startup, then to take over a full grown business with a very poor reputation and crazy amounts of drama.

The beginning of July was the low point (which was obviously the turning point as well, if you’ve ever had experience with low points). We had a very full schedule and no employees. So me being the supportive partner I am, I offered to haul the kids to the shop and help run things. I figured it would be a couple of weeks of crazy stress, he would hire a couple of guys, then the kids and I would come back home and pick up normal life again. Boy, was I wrong!!

Months passed. We worked our way through three babysitters. (Because, surprise, trying to run a business with four kids under foot is not possible. For me anyhow.) My perspective on “normal” forever shifted.

I have always admired working moms. Marveled at their passion, tenacity, and what I assumed was copious amounts of energy. It was absolutely the hardest few months of my life! I was working 40+ hours starting a business beside my husband and coming home to clean and cook and homeschool and strive to make the kids feel as if nothing had changed. That plate I mentioned?? Was more like a waiter’s tray full of plates with me struggling to balance it and also make sure all the loaded plates didn’t bump each other.

Friends were worried and wondered when the madness would end. In the midst of it though, I struggled with what I truly wanted. I knew I didn’t want things to stay the same, but I also did not want to go back to the way things were. I loved being a huge part of the business! I got a thrill every time someone asked, “Oh are you the owner?” and I could legitimately say, “Yes.”

I understood the drive and the passion of a working mom, and didn’t know if I could go back to not being involved in the day to day of this baby business I had now poured sweat into.

So what’s happening now? Now, I work mostly from home, keeping books, billing and invoicing and paying taxes. Tracking the expenses and income and running the social media platforms. Have I found a way to balance that waiter’s tray of a plate? Not 100%. But most days I get to have the best of both the business world and the mom world! Also, I’m starting to work my hobbies back into a normal routine, though it’s a slow process.

How can I Help?

Do you ever feel completely helpless when someone near you is hurting? I’m not necessarily talking about physical pain. That’s actually not as hard to deal with, right? You can offer to shovel their snowy sidewalk or watch their kids so they can rest or even bring them a meal. I’m thinking about when they’re walking through a season of pain. How do you help? I’ve been reading the book of Job the last couple of days, so this has been very present on my mind. In case you don’t know or need a refresher, the book of Job (that’s with a long O sound) is about a man who loses everything. His crops, herds, and even his children in just a matter of hours. Then the next day he also loses his health. I’ve heard many preachers joke about the one thing he doesn’t lose is his wife though he probably wishes he had. That’s not against wives necessarily, it’s more her attitude after Job loses everything.

There is a huge element of spiritual warfare I’m leaving out of my explanation as well, not because it’s not important but because my point isn’t derived from that side.

Now Enter Stage Right Job’s three friends: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. Then toward the end a much younger friend speaks up who is named Eliphaz. They all come together for a visit to their troubled friend, and I honestly think they had good intentions. It seems like they were the “tough love” kind of friends. They are convinced that all of these bad things are happening because of some wrong doing on Job’s part and that he’s just in denial when he declares he hasn’t done anything to deserve it. Now as I’m reading, I’m frantically searching for things they say that are wrong. But you know what every time I read this book I’m always amazed at their knowledge of God. Now do they get everything right? I don’t believe so, but they do have an extensive knowledge and this was before they have the Bible to use as a resource, right. Does all this info they have help them comfort/help their friend in his time of greatest need? Not one bit. They have obviously studied, maybe even had Divine encounters themselves, but it seems to me that not a single one of them asked God for his opinion before speaking for Him.

Do you know what our greatest resource can be in helping people around us? God. His love for them, and asking what is He working in their life. It may be obvious, but in Job’s case it wasn’t. And in their defense they had no way of knowing what was truly happening outside of asking God.

My point in all of this, when you want to help, try looking through God’s eyes. This isn’t easy, and if you’re not a Friend of God, it’s impossible. Only by abiding in God and having a constant communication highway between your heart and His will you be in tune enough to help the really deep cases. Not saying you can’t try to help, but without the help of the Almighty, you won’t know what is truly happening, and you might end up being just as helpful as Job’s friends.

Helping Your Child Through Loss

I’m sure I do not have to tell you that becoming a parent changes a lot of things. Some things are obvious. Some hit you a few months into it. Some you realize after years.

One of the biggest changes I’ve been noticing in recent years is friendships. Yes, its harder to make friends when you’re a mom. Blah blah blah. That’s not what I mean, necessarily. I’m talking about losing friendships.

I don’t know about you, but my friends become integral parts of my children’s lives. Probably because, as a mom of four, there really isn’t a way to “hang out” without at least one of them there.

Some friendships just don’t last forever, thats a natural part of life. You drift apart, go through a busy phase. Sometimes you meet up again later in life; sometimes you do not. I’ve had friendships that have lasted around 7 years just fizzle.

Before I had kids, it was tough, sure. Since having kids, its been heartbreaking! I have not experienced anything as tough as trying to explain why “so and so” doesn’t come by to hang out anymore. I, seriously, would rather have to break the news that someone died, before having to tiptoe around why someone suddenly refuses to say, “Hi,” when they see us in the grocery store.

I have not found a good surefire way to break this kind of news, but I do have some tips.

1. Deal with the loss yourself first. Come to grips with it, accept it, then explain it to your child. This helps you control your wording a bit more. If you haven’t fully processed what happened, do not try dumping all of that confusion on your little one.

2. Don’t be afraid to let them see you cry. This is especially true if they start crying. Cry with them. They need to know that it is okay to be sad and that you are going to miss that friendship just as much as they will.

3. Try to stay away from going negative. Be truthful, but do not go into a diatribe of how worthless and stupid this friend was, no matter how tempting that may be. You never know what the future may hold. That friendship might mend someday, but your child will never forget those terrible things you’ve said. Even if you hold no hope of mending the relationship, don’t go negative. This teaches them that it is okay to talk nasty behind people’s backs.

4. If this was a long relationship or a friendship with a family member, remind them that this friend still loves them and it is okay if they still love that friend. Kids have a tendency to internalize in a way that doesn’t make sense to us as adults. Even though we probably did the same thing when we were young. They need to know that friend doesn’t have a problem with them and not to take it personally.

It is still one of the hardest conversations to have, and I do suggest having it. Unless they are 5 or younger do not just wait until they notice and ask about it. It’s a much easier conversation when you control the atmosphere and timing.

Choose Joy!

Yesterday two of my kids woke up in completely two different attitudes. It was my third baby, Ella’s third birthday. Her big sister, Capri, woke up first and was completely psyched for what we had planned. When Ella came stumbling out of her room wiping sleep from her eyes, Capri bombarded her with a boisterous, “Ella!! IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY!!”

Moments later my oldest, Colton, comes marching out with a sheen of tears in his eyes. “Mommy, You woke me up when you shouted, ‘Happy Birthday.'” He was utterly offended that we would do such a thing!

As further information, it was already well past the time we all usually wake up. He was simply being grumpy.

Sometimes we are going to wake up on the wrong side of the bed, but that makes it so much more important to choose joy.

I had a lot of reasons to be sad and down yesterday. A big one being, my kids are growing up too fast! I mean even my tiny baby is well into eating puréed solids and working his way to crawling!!

I heard an author answer the question of what her favorite phase of parenting was in this way, “Every phase has its ups and downs.” Isn’t that so perfect for all of life?

I’m not saying live in a dream world where you ignore the sad things or bad things. Embrace them, knowing that in the next phase of life you might be able to look back and smile. Maybe those tough things are the building blocks for tomorrows tough things. Not a very uplifting thought when you think about it in a pessimistic attitude. But though times are going to come. What are you doing to prepare your resilience??

Every season has really good things and really nasty things. In every season, choose joy!!!

Love is not…

Love is not staying silent.

Is there anything more powerful than silence? A long while back a group of friends and I had gathered at a friends house to watch a football game. During commercials it would get pretty loud with the din of many different conversations and groups of small children playing. I remember one commercial silenced the whole room. Was it a commercial for the news or some heartbreaking tragedy for which they were raising money? Or even the one with all the sad footage of the dogs on “doggie death row?” Nope! None of those. It was a commercial for an animated movie. What? Why? The first few seconds of the commercial are complete silence. Every conversation stopped and we all turned to the TV. The animated panda simply said, “Now that I have your attention…” and were all amazed at the ingenuity of it all. Not to mention I’m still thinking about it 5 years later.

Silence is powerful! It can communicate anger, disagreement, or apathy. What are you communicating by your silence? Christians are supposed to be working to make the world a better place, but it seems like a lot of us would rather bury their heads in the sand. The church has been eerily quiet on so many issues over the past generation, then we come out of our spiritual comas and look around and say, “wow, our country has gotten so evil! It must be signs of the times!” Now I’m not saying the end times aren’t getting closer, but most of this mess is due to apathy on our part. Love means shutting Netflix off and saying something.

Don’t like the TV shows or movies coming out lately? Find someone making clean movies and support them.

Don’t like the data showing that only 1% of children born today will ever go to church? Stop bickering with other churches and win the lost. By the way, Jesus did say that if we all just loved each other then the world would know we were His disciples.

Think Abortion is murder? Sign a petition! Support a teen mom! Sign up for foster care! Say something!

Remember before you speak to weigh down your words with love! Only what’s spoken lovingly will truly make an impact.

Life Is Short!

What if I told you life is short? Yeah, I can sense the eye rolls and the exasperated sighs from here.

But guess what? Life is so short!

Yesterday I attended a funeral for an eighteen year old boy. I didn’t know him well, but I knew his parents and had watched his older brother in a lot of high school plays. An auditorium with seating for probably 150 to 200 people and there was only standing room left. Some people even had to be tucked off in hallways where they definitely couldn’t hear what was being said.

At every funeral we’re reminded of a reality we’d rather forget. Death is coming for us all. At least at an old man’s funeral, we can tell ourselves it’s so far away. Standing in the back with my four small children, I couldn’t help but wonder. How long do I really get them? We take it for granted that they will grow up and leave home. That we’ll watch them start a life of their own. I’m not saying spend everyday thinking they could die tomorrow, even though it’s a harsh reality.

What am I saying? Life is short! Don’t just live your life that way, teach your children to do the same. You don’t have to be morbid about it. Sure, my children and I talk about death and how quickly life will pass by often. And people think we’re crazy. I want my kids to see that they don’t have to wait until their adults to truly start living a life that has an impact. I want them to be that person who loves on those around them now. Who prays for that person who is hurting. A person like Cody Scott, who by the age of eighteen had made an incredible impact in his family, church, and school!