Thursday, February 28, 2013

the cure to burnout

I wanted to take a little bit to update you all on life. Our life.

The last nine months have been quite the blur and stressful. It seems I was incapable of adjusting to life with one more.  The storm is passing though and I can see things from a different perspective.

Life is still hectic.  Liberty is still feisty and very much a toddler. Justice is mobile, curious little babe and my days are still filled with dirty diapers, snot, occasional spit up and overall insanity.

But, I have finally realized that life is also filled with sweet slobbery kisses and baby's breath.  Snuggles and giggles. Moments that pass us by entirely too quickly. I can attest to the grace of God in this season and His merciful work in my life and in my heart.  The burn-out I found was suffocating me is slowly lifting and I am enjoying my calling as a Mommy and a wife once again.

One thing struck my heart throughout this season though.

Part of my burnout was the fact that I didn't know how to spend time with God in this new, busier season. I attempted to make it look like it did when I mothered one, or when I was newly married or even when I was single, and every single time, I came up short, disillusioned and frustrated (seems I get frustrated a lot, huh?). 

I believe part of having a Mary Heart in our Martha seasons is remembering that God has ordained this season and that time spent with Him will look differently based on our season.  Comparing ourselves to other moms is not helpful in any measure, and comparing ourselves to ourselves in different seasons will only bring disillusionment.

Mommy, be encouraged! Jesus designed you to mother your little arrows at this very moment and He has given you enough grace to draw nearer to Him even during this craziness!  Remember that your quiet time and seeking of His face has no formula.  It doesn't have to be in the morning for an hour, following a Bible reading plan on YouVersion (though praise Jesus for those!).  It can be throughout the days, moments quietly "stolen" between you and your Heavenly Father who desires you.  Connecting with the Lord during these busy seasons has nothing to do with a formula or checklist and everything to do with the posture of our hearts.

Don't get lost in the tools that are meant to usher you to our Father.  Don't get lost in the "have to" and "shoulda, coulda, wouldas" that you forget we love a Merciful God who delights in taking our weakness and demonstrating His strength.  Please Mommy, be encouraged! Jesus is in the midst of your mothering, your dirty diapers and toddler tantrums.  He is in the midst, longing for one single heart glance in His direction.  That is all He needs to draw you near. 

Draw nearer to Him today Mama, and draw strength from a Heavenly God who gives you grace for present trouble and glory for eternity!


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Salvation, Parenting and some thoughts in between

I love our Titus 2 Moms group.

I'm a part of a community of women who long to see God's best fulfilled in their marriages, their parenting and their children's lives. We are intense about this stuff. Our "Mama Yoda" (as I so fondly call her, because she's a *wealth* of knowledge) gets inundated with questions, scenarios and about a million messages and texts daily (I'm sure). And the funny ha-ha of it all is that a good majority revolve around that ever present, ever touchy subject of discipline. 

Toddlers are hard to parent. And even harder to discipline. I have yet to parent or discipline a teen, but I'm sure they're no cup of tea either. Discipline is one of those parenting subjects that no matter how much you think you know, you always have to adjust and grow as you continue to learn and get to know God's little (or grown) gift to us as parents. 

I sat thinking earlier today on the Scripture that exhorts our parents not to embitter or exasperate our children. I read a post our Mission Base's Executive Director posted up about John Newton (writer of "Amazing Grace") and his testimony.  He was beat, bruised, and "disciplined" by his parents, yet it caused more rebellion to grow inside of him rather than a deep loyalty and love for Jesus.

"Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart."

-Col 3:21

In good old nerd curious fashion, I looked up the definition of exasperate in the dictionary. Here's what came up.


verb (used with object)
to irritate or provoke to a high degree; annoy extremely: He was exasperated by the senseless delays.
Archaic. to increase the intensity or violence of (disease, pain,feelings, etc.).
Botany rough; covered with hard, projecting points, as a leaf.

"Liberty, STOP!" 
"Justice, don't even think about it." 
"Grace, that's enough." 
"Liberty, Mommy said NO." 
"Ya'll, come on! Ughhh."

Those sound pretty much like the definition of exasperate. There has to be a better way to discipline that doesn't exasperate and embitter my children (or me!).

And then, I realized that without Christ I am incapable of obedience and incapable of any good thing. Suddenly, my parenting focus shifted. 

My first goal as a parent is not to shape the outward mannerism, but rather to bring them to the foot of the cross and saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  My original prayer should never be to mold the exterior of the cup, but rather that my children would be awakened at a young age, to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Then, we can get to the heart of the matter and parent and discipline, according to Scripture. 

As a mother, I am the first picture of Jesus my children see.  I really should be imitating Christ and living by the Spirit every moment of every day. I will always lack and will never be perfect, yet I must be aware to paint a true picture of Jesus, so that my children can accurately see Jesus. I want to be an instrument God uses in their lives. And I have to strive, in prayer and through grace to be a picture of Jesus' love for them. 

How are you showing your children the Cross and the love of Christ in the way you parent and love them?


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What's really behind Mommy's Frustration

Tonight was night five or six of straight up Bedtime Wars.  Our feisty fiery two year old has been fighting bedtime and everything that comes with it with all her little might.  And I can vouch for the fact that her might is not so little. (Wonder where she gets that from. Hmmm)  She hadn't gone to bed earlier than 10:30 for almost a week, and everyone's patience was running thin.

I had already spanked (for disobedience) at least twice or thrice and I was exhausted.  As she's tossing and turning in her bed, I bow my head and tell God exactly how I'm feeling.

I remind Him how incapable I am of doing this.  I vent my frustrations about The Husband and his "lack of involvement" (that wasn't the case, just what I perceived and how I felt). I remind God of my laundry list of items to finish before bed.  And then... He stops me, mid-sentence.

"Your first responsibility is to be their mother."

Suddenly, a flood of thoughts straight from His heart inundated my weary Mama soul and I was at peace in the middle of a toddler tantrum storm.

As mothers, we are constantly striving towards grace, patience, mercy, wisdom.  We need to know how to mother well, and most of us have a deep, intense desire to do so.  We become frustrated when we feel we've failed whether majorly or in the least of ways.

A dear friend texts me a few nights ago, and she demonstrates this concept so well:
"Ugh, I hate days like today. I feel like I failed completely as a mother. I lost my temper more than I should've, and I yelled. A LOT. Tomorrow will be a sit and play with my kids kind of day."

In the middle of this toddler tantrum storm, I realized that almost 100% of the time, whenever I lose my temper with my children and become frustrated it is because I am unwilling to let go of the rest of my agenda.  The agenda that goes *beyond* my children. My frustration with my toddler's behavior and my little guy's whining comes less from them and entirely from me.  Their childlike behavior is inconvenient to my plan and my agenda.

I have bathrooms to clean.  Dishes to wash.  Laundry to fold and put away.  Parties to plan.  Parenting books to read so that I can be a better parent. People to minister to after all.

And all the while I am blaming them for being and doing exactly what they're supposed to be doing (be children, immature and childlike) I lose track of the fact that my agenda begins and ends with Jesus, and He has given me three children to steward over and raise up in the ways of His Kingdom. Everything else is just that... everything else. The mopping and sweeping, the laundry, the cooking, everything else can wait, 100% of the time.

So I encourage weary Mamas to look at the frustration you have with your children as something you can take full ownership of.  I invite you to pray alongside me, as I ask Jesus to break into my heart with a full revelation of parenting and how my frustrations come more from my need to control than from my 1 Corinthians manner of love towards my children.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Some very stern thoughts on mothering and mothers

If I've learned anything in the 25 years I've been a woman, it's this... Women are vicious. They have a natural ability and unfortunate knack to tear each other to shreds with words, actions and even looks.

And, if there's anything I ou've learned in the 5 years I've been a mother (I consider mothering my covenant daughter while courting Caleb part of this), it's that Mommies have an increase drive and knack to tear each other to shreds.
It's so unfortunate but unfortunately true.  My my circles are often characterized by common belief systems regarding parenting or an obvious tug-o'-war of said beliefs.  Heck, it starts even before we give birth.  The battle over which childbirthing method is THE best and THE right one stresses so many women out that often times our carefully planned birthing method has to be chucked out the window and we enter into motherhood with an already defeated mindset and a sense of failure.  We spend the rest of our mothering days trying to catch up and make up for the failure of an unplanned C-Section or "drugged" birth.

Then comes the hard stuff. Nursing or Formula?  Can I nurse? Is giving my baby formula shortcoming him/her?  Vaccines, no vaccines? Organic or non-organic food?  Can I afford organic?  To stay home or not to stay home? Homeschool, Private Education, Public Education? Montessori, Traditional?  Firm or gentle discipline? A mixture of both?  How do I do that?  Am I doing it wrong?  And on and on and on it goes with a group of very passionate women along the way telling you exactly THE way to do it.

And well, this is what I think.

I think I try to do the very best for my baby.  I wanted to deliver my firstborn naturally because that's what I felt was best for me and my daughter, but it turns out I simply couldn't due to a breech position.  So, I delivered via C-section.  I wanted to nurse my firstborn, but couldn't so we gave her organic formula as a substitute.  We wanted her to eat an all-organic diet because we felt that's what was best, but didn't have the resources available to do so.  She still ate healthy and was well-fed, but didn't eat the all-organic diet we had in mind. I nursed my son for as long as I could before his need outgrew my body's ability to create milk.  I tried everything and simply couldn't and have since, also given him organic formula. We decided not to vaccinate and their schooling is still up in the air.  We try to find a happy medium with discipline, though tend to fair in the firm side.  We spank and tolerate zero disrespect or blatant disobedience.  I choose to stay home so that I can devote every second to molding my children lives for the Kingdom of Heaven.  In that endeavor, we have willingly given up certain luxuries so that I have the privilege to do that.

And you know what?  I have felt judged every single step of the way.  I can't say I've felt 100% confident in most of the decisions.  That's probably 100% my fault, because I really need to get my act together and realize that my affirmation comes from Jesus and not anyone else I come in contact with.  Nevertheless, it's time we stop judging one another on our parenting choices and start demonstrating love, encouragement and respect towards one another.  Search out God's will for your family and believe others' are doing the same.  Realize we are serving a big God who is as creative as each individual sunset and as majestic as 1000 oceans and every star.  His purposes for your family will not look the same as mine, and that is perfectly okay.

Let's seriously stop calling ourselves activists when we're really demanding everyone make the same decisions we are. Let's love and encourage one another and believe the very best in each other.  Believe that we are all doing the very best we can.  Let's share information with one another without expectation that it will change anyone. Let's press on to know Christ together as homemakers, wives, mothers and submit ourselves to the clear teaching of Scripture, understanding that Jesus is our creative God who can demonstrate His work in whatever way He choose.

Come on ladies.  Let's just *love* one another.