Peace in Parenting

I’ve been doing this mommy-thing for a little over eight years now, and I’m getting a few things figured out.

  1. God really is who He says He is.

Every family is different. I’ve decided I can compare notes with other moms if I want to get a little inspiration here and there, but nothing will bring the peace I crave like spending real time in prayer. The Lord wants to Father me in my parenting. In all things, really. But most of my life I have depended on my human understanding to plow through challenges that might arise. This is a mistake. I can only plow for so long before I run out of resources.

  1. Praying with my husband really works.

I know this is a no-brainer. We all know this, but I’m not sure many of us are practicing this on a regular basis (and I don’t mean regularly once a year!). I can’t tell you how many times I have felt frantic in my heart about a parenting issue. When I carry inner angst, I start to behave like a scary momma. Like monster-under-the-bed momma. I have no idea why I don’t think that it would be an excellent idea to tell my soulmate and have him pray with me. Without fail, anytime I’ve asked my husband for help he’s shared the load and stood in the gap for me. Just knowing that my husband is my teammate means the world to me. I am not alone and we can tackle anything together. Why, WHY would I not make prayer a priority with my husband when we get such amazing results?

  1. My kids need structure and healthy boundaries.

If I’m going to help my kids learn healthy boundaries, then I must learn what my healthy boundaries are, too. I recently started seeing a counselor to help me work through some of my own issues, and it has been one of the most positive experiences of my life. I see myself differently, and I feel more empowered to lead my children than ever before. I’m learning what makes my kids tick, and that means we can cooperate better. I am in authority because I am under my husband’s authority. My children understand how that looks in our home. When they push the boundaries, they know that we’ll enforce them. Because we’ve laid this groundwork, we have a spiritual peace in our home even when we’re loud, creative and adventurous.

I’m grateful for all the Lord has taught me throughout the years and I’m excited for all that’s yet to come. If you’re looking for a breakthrough in your parenting, may I suggest getting involved in a Life Group and getting prayer as a first step?

I’m curious, what was your “aha moment” that brought peace to your parenting?

This post was written by Jodi LaFrance. To read more about her, click here. 

Focusing on What Matters

So. I’m a homeschool mom. Wait! I know that homeschooling is not the most “normal” way to educate your children, but before you back out of this post, you should know that we probably have a lot more in common than you might think. Do you ever feel overwhelmed with parenting, wondering if you’re “training them up in the way they should go,” or providing them with the right opportunities (education and extra-curricular activities) to become who they were created to be? I do.

At the start of this year, I had lunch with a precious, veteran mom and homeschooler. I was feeling pretty burned out with trying to “get it all done” every day and hoping she would have some encouragement for me. This wise woman had some great advice and thought-provoking questions that brought me clarity and focus. First, she asked me how much I actually remembered from my school years (A little).  Second, she told me that she had learned that people will teach themselves what they really desire to know.

Third, she asked me, “What are the most important things you want your kids to know by the time they leave home?” We talked about the things that mattered, and I went home and made a list of what I hope to have imparted to my three blessings by the time they leave home: Love, character, and financial wisdom.

Love: That my children would know that Jesus and their parents love them, and that they would love Jesus, their family, and the world around them. That they would know that their parents loved each other.

Character: That they would become persons of character—honest, forgiving, obedient, humble, dependable, and willing to embrace hard work.

Financial wisdom: That they would know how to manage their money well—to tithe, give, save, not rack up credit card debt, to make wise investments, and be able to live on a budget.

This is where I landed. Your list might look different from mine, but whatever the list looks like, it offers us direction and focus as parents. When I start fretting about not getting all 36 weeks of the science curriculum completed in one school year, or worrying about the robotics and music classes my kids aren’t taking right now, I remind myself that if Sonny and I are teaching and modeling love, character, and financial wisdom, then we are on track.

And finally, when wrestling with what opportunities to give my children, I remember Psalms 16:5-6:

Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.

These verses help me be at rest with the amount of “opportunities” that fall into the boundaries of our budget, schedule, geography, energy levels, and the time it takes to have a healthy marriage. God’s boundary lines are not the same for everyone, but they are very good.

This post was written by Erin Smart. To read more about her, click here

Caring for “Me”

beauty-from-ashes“Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?”  Song of Solomon 8:5

I have never in my life had such a definitive change in seasons.

All my past season changes were kind of blended like fall blends into winter and winter into spring.

This season change is almost like a nuclear holocaust…just a blank landscape with a wide open space of nothing except the debris of what used to be.

I have been a care-giver most of my life, starting as a child of a single parent. I gave care to my mama, my brother, and our home to help relieve some of my mama’s burden.  Then came the season of marriage and child-raising.  We all know what that requires of a wife and mother.  Then all of a sudden the season of caring for the elders in my family arrived, and it lasted longer than the season of child-raising.

Now that all of these seasons have come and gone, I find my soul is weary and so is my body.  As I sit in my woman-cave, I look around at all of the clutter that has accumulated during this past season and ponder: “Is this indicative of my heart, Lord? Is my heart so cluttered from the weariness and emotions of this past season that I need to be decluttered?”  And as I quietly sit here, I hear my Jesus’ voice:

Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you.  Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.

(Matt. 11:28-30 NLT).

So, I have a choice.  I can get in my normal “who” of being task-oriented and ABC-123, and slog through this wilderness in my own effort and keep on keeping on.  Or I can stop and wait.

I can wait at the edge of this new season until I am refreshed in my soul.  I can wait until I can see clearly God’s plan for me in this new season.  I can wait and not be discouraged as I allow Holy Spirit to clear the clutter of emotions out of my heart and help me clear the clutter in my home.  I can wait while the “Mary” in me is refreshed and revived, and the “Martha” takes a rest.

So, for now I plan to do some self-care, taking time to rest by not having so many self-expectations.  I can enjoy doing life with my husband without having to put others’ needs before ours.  I can be content keeping busy at home.  I can still care for others through being diligent in prayer.  And I can look forward with expectation to what God has for me. 

This post was written by Kitty Shipman. To read more about her, click here. 

My Sticky Floors

mopping-floorI stared at the floors in my dinning room and nearly cried. They were sticky and covered in crumbs, and I had ignored them for nearly 3 weeks. Every time I looked down at them, I felt overwhelmed and almost paralyzed. The job felt too big and mopping was my last priority.  In the middle of fighting back my tears, I heard that still small voice in my head say, “Just do the next thing.”  In the span of 30 seconds, I had two options. I could run, hide and cry, or embrace the task in front of me…my dirty floors.

Although I thought ignoring my dirty floors was helping me, what I realized was that my procrastination was robbing me of peace.  In my mind I had decided that mopping was going to take too long. In reality, it took less than 20 minutes. I had spent more time fretting and worrying about my floors than it actually took me to just clean them.

Sometimes we find ourselves balancing all these different areas of our lives. We want to be productive. We want to be successful. We desire to love God and to love people. But the truth is, our floors just need to be mopped…our kids need us to read them a book. Our husbands need us to listen to them process their day. Our stack of papers need filed, and our laundry needs folded and put away. The toilets need scrubbed and the trash needs taken out.  But if we fret about the task in front of us, we’ll always be robbed of the peace that comes from accomplishment.

Dear friends, as we end this month discussing the value of living in balance, may I encourage you to listen to that still small voice and “just do the next thing”?

I can’t tell you what your next thing is, but I can promise you, the one who knitted you together in your mother’s womb knows. He’s intimately acquainted with every detail of your life. He sees you, He knows you, and He loves you…right where you’re at.

Be encouraged, Sisters in Christ…if God is for you who can be against you?

Just go for it and mop that sticky floor…

This post was written by Julie Snellgrove. To read more about her, click here. 

Balance: A New Perspective

fulcrum - balanceBalance. It’s a word that used to make me picture a woman struggling to hold about 14 different teetering plates, and trying not to let any of them crash to the floor in a huge mess.   I’ve lived that way, trying to balance so many areas of my life based on who I thought I should be, and who I thought others wanted me to be.

We can live this way with the best of intentions. It seems Godly to want to do well at taking care of ourselves, our families, our jobs, our friends, our responsibilities. But I can so easily get overwhelmed and run out of energy with all of the things that I feel need my attention in life. Amazingly, I have learned a way of living that brings me peace and confidence. “Having it all” is a lie.   Having balance for this moment, this day, or this season of my life is very possible.

fulcrum lesson 2fulcrum lessonI am learning to live by the Principle of the Fulcrum.   Imagine a yardstick with a fulcrum right in the middle. The stick is your life, and you balance the stick with the fulcrum. It would seem that to balance the stick, you would need to have the fulcrum in the middle and keep equal weight on either side.   But the truth is, when weight is applied to an area, moving the fulcrum closer that that area brings balance. When the Holy Spirit puts “weight” on a certain area of your life, you get a sense in your heart where you need to move your time, energy, or attention. Just move your fulcrum to where He is. When I live this way, I no longer need to judge myself, because I know that in this moment, I am doing the most important thing. I don’t have to fear that other areas of my life will be lacking if I move my attention to one area for a day, a month, a season…or however long I sense God has me there.

Lately my heart has been drawn to my family, and the Spirit is saying to me, “Pay attention to them. You are in a stage of your marriage where distance can form between you if you don’t intentionally choose to notice Gabe, be available to him, be interested in him, and enjoy him.” He’s saying, “Pay attention to Avery. If you allow your cell phone and TV to eat up your time, you will miss out on your chance to know and shape your daughter.” I’m working on moving my fulcrum, my heart, toward my family.   It takes being intentional because I can so easily move other directions.

Understanding the principle of the fulcrum is understanding what it is to be led by the Spirit.
You may sense that you need to:

  • Get help to resolve an issue that keeps coming up in your marriage
  • Invest in taking care of yourself by exercising, eating better, or getting more rest
  • Initiate a friendship
  • Admit you have an addiction and get help
  • Say no to a “ministry” for a season to focus on your toddlers
  • Learn how to keep an organized and welcoming home
  • Ask someone who is good at finances to help you get out of debt
  • Seek counseling for a relational issue that keeps causing you pain
  • Put your cell phone away and really listen to your kids

Don’t resist the Spirit and go the opposite direction because the pressure is uncomfortable. Be brave and move your fulcrum—your heart—where He is putting pressure. It will actually move you to a place of balance.   The Holy Spirit is so kind that He sees down the road and gently alerts us to what’s coming so that we can avoid disasters that may come if we don’t pay attention. He’ll lead you, teach you and instruct you in the way that you should go.

Where is God pressing right now? Where is your heart leading you? Would you be brave enough to move towards that thing and let God bring the balance you need?

This post was written by Jill Moudy. To read more about her, click here

 

Gift-Giving That Won’t Break the Bank

giftDo you struggle with gift-giving times?  Do you spend, buy, charge and/or rearrange your budget in November and December, and then have guilt or struggles in January and February?  Your head and heart say you want to give all your favorite friends and family members the best gift ever…But put it down on paper, and how can you afford to do that and pay your bills for the next two months?

Do you give gifts because your love language is gifts or giving, or is it because of obligation, acceptance, love, expectations or another motive?

Matthew 2:11, ” After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”  This is one of the most famous times of gift-giving.

We’ve all heard “Jesus is the reason for the season.”  Take time for others, and many times the gift of yourself can be the best gift you can give them.  As we age, or others in our life age, we and life get busier and busier – spending time with family and friends becomes more precious than ever.

God has called me to practicality.  He made me literal–very literal–so in my thoughts, that is how I process things.  I make a list of what I want to accomplish, then I make a list of materials needed. I narrow that down to what I already have on hand and what I need to purchase or make ahead of time.

Use your talents for your gift-giving, such as calligraphy, painting, arts and crafts, or baking.

  • Make a fruit basket
  • Travel basket for kids on the road
  • Game basket for a family (much more economical than giving a gift to each family member)
  • Relaxing basket – bubble bath, candle, bath salts, lotion
  • Movie night with rental gift cards and microwave popcorn or homemade caramel corn in a large popcorn bowl
  • Basket of homemade canned goods, homemade bread & jam or local honey.
  • If you make desserts or homemade candy – give a treat on a nice dish they can reuse.  You can buy these at the local estate sales or thrift stores
  • Make a nice fruit pie, banana or strawberry bread
  • Give a ham
  • Use your photography and buy or make a picture frame for a special picture
  • Give coupons for your services: babysitting for a young couple, dinner and a movie, a home-cooked meal or dessert and coffee
  • For the booklover – Amazon.com or Christianbook.com gift cards
  • Give a rosebush for a lifetime of roses if you can’t afford the dozen
  • Family recipe cookbook
  • Make a photo calendar or scan photos and place on a CD or DVD for viewing together, or a flashdrive for a digital picture frame for the person that has everything

Evaluate your reasons for giving, your heart and your budget. Then give freely of your talents, time, love and gifts.

This post was written by Paula Gowman. To read more about her, click here

Balance

Balance Rocks_GraphicI am a stay-at-home mom with three part-time jobs: Zumba Jammer for Zumba Fitness, Zumba instructor for Bodyworks of Lubbock, and Zumba Program Coordinator for Bodyworks. I, as every other woman I know, am the master of multi-tasking—taking great pride in production and efficiency. Watch a movie? Sure! As long as I can get caught up on my ironing pile while we watch. Cook Supper? Of course! But let’s sort through the pantry while we’re at it. Have a tea party? Of course…while I fold laundry on the side. So you can only imagine how freaked out I was when the Lord challenged me to become a “single-tasker.” Is there such a thing? YES THERE IS! After all, we can only be in one place at one time anyway, right? Or can we? Sometimes I’m physically playing with my children, spiritually thirsty because of my lack of self-discipline that week, mentally going over choreography in my head for my next class, and emotionally drained trying to keep up with it all! How exhausting! So I decided to try this single-tasking thing out, and have discovered its incredible power to maintaining a peaceful, joyful, and balanced home!

When my boys are in school and Emma is napping, I get my Zumba jobs accomplished for the day: emailing, getting things ready for the next event, choreographing new routines, etc. I complete my work-related tasks with excellence, since I devote all of me to them. I can now switch over to another “category” of life when I pick up my kids—not worried about other things…just being completely present. This category includes all that mommyhood involves: training, cooking, disciplining, teaching, playing, comforting and loving on my kiddos. Zumba time: Time for another “switch.” I don’t feel guilty that I’m not at home picking up the house or spending time with my husband. I don’t get upset that I’m not on a girl’s night out or watching my favorite show. Nope, those aren’t in this category of life. What is, though, are women looking to be inspired and to stay motivated to live healthy lifestyles.

Then it’s time to run home. We have supper and hang out as a family making memories, and soon get ready for bed with laughter, stories, prayer, and cuddles. And yet again, another “switch.” A switch to husband time comes where I’m fully present and ready to be with him emotionally, physically, and mentally. What a blessing it is to our husbands when we are fully theirs!

Now, not every minute of our day can be compartmentalized with no “overlapping.”  But I’ve learned to engage where the Lord has me, and pursue peace, not chaos. You know what else I’ve learned? It’s okay. When I follow His peace in every area and circumstance, while fully engaging in that moment, it’s all okay. I do things with excellence, passion and purpose because it’s WHO I AM, not because it’s what needs to be done. I rest in His peace and my identity in Him.

This post was written by Brandi Wilson.