Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Comparison Game

The comparison game. Oh, boy!

Do I play it? Unfortunately, yes, all too often. How about you?

I’m in the midst of that struggle right now.

Her house is so much bigger…and clean ALL the time. My tiny house always has something out of place and crumbs everywhere.

Her clothes are gorgeous. How does she ALWAYS look that nice? I have spit-up on my clothes just about every day.

Her kids are so well behaved. How do they listen to EVERYTHING she says? My toddler turns to me and says, “Nah,” and gives me those defiant eyes.

Her marriage is perfect. They NEVER have arguments. I feel like a broken record asking my husband to pick up his socks.

Anyone else feel like everyone but you has it together? I sure do. It's all too easy to see the best of people and compare it to the worst of us.

Think about social media. Every day pictures and comments are posted that reflect the best parts of people’s lives: a newly remodeled room, an outfit that looks stunning, children getting along in perfect unity, and a smiling spouse posing in the perfect vacation spot.

When we focus on what other people portray to us, it’s easy to feel like we’ve failed. Since we know our own failures, it feels like we are never going to be good enough.

When we compare people's best to our worst, we're always going to feel like we don't measure up. ALWAYS. And when we get stuck there, it feels like no matter what we do is never going to be good enough.

What we don't see behind the “perfection” of someone else is the mess of dirty dishes in that newly remodeled kitchen, the struggle to find that perfect outfit because she's still trying to lose the baby weight, the following picture of her toddler pushing the baby sister flat on her face, and the argument that happened in the car that made her want to forget about even going on the vacation.

None of us have it all together. Some of us are just better at hiding that truth than others. But I wish we didn’t have to mask it. If we were more open about it maybe the comparison game would stop.

Let me tell you, my two year old put Aquaphor all through her hair on the day we were getting Christmas pictures taken. You have got to be kidding me. While it feels like stuff like that doesn’t happen to anyone else, I know it does.   

I fail every single day. And if you’re honest, you do too, but that’s what makes us human, and that’s what bonds us together on this journey. Instead of comparing what we have or don’t have, let’s share our hearts with those around us. Let’s be honest with each other. 

Let’s show the good, the bad, and the ugly of our lives instead of pretending we have it all together.

Ending the comparison game brings much needed rest and joy to our lives.

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. (Proverbs 14:30 NIV)

I want a heart at peace. Don't you?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Are You Passionate About What You Do?

Are you passionate about what you do? Do you love getting up in the morning to do your job well?

I can’t say I always have.

When I was in high school, I generally dreaded Saturday mornings because that meant going to work. What happened to the days of enjoying a weekend?  

When I finally got to college, there were days I didn’t want to go to class. Why did I have to spend that time studying when I just wanted to get out in the real world?

But once I was out in the real world, I wished to be back at college, where life seemed so much easier. The stress of each day made me look forward to the time I would get to be a stay-at-home mom. That was the plan, after all, and that’s what I eagerly anticipated.

But you know what? I can’t say I’ve been thrilled every single day that I’ve stayed at home and taken care of every need of my girls and the house. Why doesn’t the sink stay empty for more than two hours? Why do I never see the bottom of the hamper? Why is there always dirt on the floor?

Discontentment. It has been strewn throughout my life.

It’s a song I no longer want to sing.

I have been more than blessed in every season of life, yet the natural reaction has been to look at the difficulties in the situations and yearn for something else instead of looking at all the good that surrounds me.

The problem is that I’m looking to the things around me to bring fulfillment in my life, which is only going to continue to leave me empty. God is the only one who can fill any hole in my heart.

I also neglect to work for God.

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters" (Colossians 3:23).

Our work, no matter what it is, should be done for the Lord.

God has placed me right where I am for an incredible purpose.

Sometimes it doesn’t seem magnificent to be wiping butts, mopping up spill after spill, and walking on crumbs all day long, but if I look past all that, I see what truly matters. I am raising two beautiful children to know God. I have the privilege of pointing them to Him. I have the responsibility of pouring into the lives of these little girls because one day they are going to pour into the lives of others. I am building a legacy within my home.

There is nothing more important than that.

Sure, I don’t get to sleep in. I don’t always get to eat a hot meal. And I can’t do what I want when I want, but those smiles, hugs, and sparkling eyes make it all worth it.

I remember the first time I heard our oldest daughter pray on her own. We had no idea what she said, but God knew her heart, and mine swelled with joy. Her relationship with God was taking shape. What an incredible thing to witness. This is the most important work I will ever do, and I am blessed to be called a mother.

It’s time to stop looking at what I’m missing out on and start focusing on what God is using me for in this moment.

There’s nothing ordinary about it.

Whether you make six figures, minimum wage, or nothing at all, know that God has called you to be right where you are. He has an incredible plan for your life and for the lives of the people you interact with every day.

Don’t forget the incredible power God displays through ordinary people. It matters. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

When Life Is A Blur

When I was in high school, I played field hockey. Being on the field made me forget about everything else. I didn’t worry about my grades. I didn’t worry about the guy I had a crush on. I wasn’t thinking about the upcoming weekend. I was consumed by the game. That’s where my thoughts were focused.

On more than one occasion I acquired an injury during a game. The extent of it wasn’t revealed until I sat on the bench. Only then, once my adrenaline was no longer pumping, could I assess my wounds. My focus changed because I was quiet.

Some days I feel like I have tunnel vision. When I played field hockey, I could only think about getting that ball in the net. These days, my thoughts are consumed with my day to day responsibilities. My thoughts are focused on my young children and all their needs. Some days I’m drowning in laundry, play-doh, spit-up, and tears.

Sometimes life feels like a blur. These are the longest and shortest days, all at the same time.

I need to be still. I need to pull myself away from all of the demands calling my name, and I need to sit at the feet of Jesus. I need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and I need to be instructed by our Father. I need to take the time to assess my wounds because they need treated before I can get back in the game.

“…Be still, and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10)

Oh, it’s so hard to be still.

This past weekend I was on a retreat, and we had an hour where we spent alone with God. No Bible. No notebook. No nothing. Just us in front of our heavenly Father. It wasn’t easy, but it was needed. It was refreshing.  It was eye-opening.

Did I get to take in the beauty of creation? Yes.

Did I get to pray, pray, and pray? Yes.

Was I convicted of certain things? Yes.

Did I leave perfect? Absolutely not, but I was bandaged.

Won’t you join me and be still before God? Even if it’s for five minutes. Even if it means staying in the bathroom a couple extra minutes. Let’s quiet our hearts so our lives can be illuminated instead of blurred.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Bragging On Your Hubby

I have a Facebook friend who regularly posts pictures of her and her husband, sharing what he means to her and how proud she is of him.

It makes me think about my own relationship. My husband brags on me all the time. 

Sometimes it makes me want to slink back into the corner because I don't want the limelight. All eyes on me is uncomfortable.

Even though my cheeks brighten and I feel a little embarrassed, I do like that he wants others to know what he loves about me or what I've done that's so impressive to him.

But do I do it for him?

With my head held in shame, I must say that I don't. I should. And I will. He's incredible. After all, he puts up with my craziness.

The other night I had a note sitting on my desk from him. I had to chuckle because it was folded using that famous middle school fold, but inside were not the words of a seventh grader. They were words of encouragement from my dear husband. Simple words, but heart stirring words.

He is my biggest fan. He is my voice of reason. He’s my blessing from God. I want him to feel the same about me.

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. (Proverbs 31:10-12 NIV)

When my husband thinks of me, I want him to see me as worth more than rubies. I want him to have confidence in me, and I desire to bring him good. Every. Single. Day.

What does that good look like? An encouraging word? A selfless act? Cooking his favorite meal? Being the wife that God has called me to be, the wife my husband needs.

The challenge I have for myself and every other wife is to brag on your hubby. He desires it, and I guarantee relationships will be strengthened.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Covering Our Children In Prayer

My oldest daughter’s second birthday is quickly approaching. I stop and reflect on the past two years and how much has changed. On this day two years ago, I was pregnant. My husband and I had no idea how drastically life was going to change. We had no idea how much joy and love was about to fill our hearts (and how many dirty clothes would spill from the laundry basket).

I remember wondering how she would look. Whose features would she have? What type of personality was going to shine through? Who was she going to become? What type of mother was I going to be? So many questions floated through my head because everything was unknown.

The future is still unknown, but it is unfolding before our eyes every day. Almost two years of her life are in the rearview mirror, and what precious memories we hold in our hearts.

It makes me think about when we were expecting her. Before my husband and I would go to bed each night, we would pray over her. We had no idea who she was at that moment, other than our precious child who was already loved beyond words. We knew God had and has a plan for her, and we wanted to lift her up to him.

The power of prayer is real, and I’m going to take every opportunity to cover my children in it. I’m going to pray for them as they’re small. I’m going to pray for them when they grow into young adults. And I’m going to continue to pray for them when the time comes for them to have their own families.

I’m going to pray for them when they do something that makes me proud and when they frustrate me. When they’re near and when they’re far. When I’m the most important thing to them and when they think I’m the worst. I’m going to pray for them without ceasing.

Won’t you join me and pray for your children as well?


Thank you for the blessing of my children. You have an incredible plan for each one of their lives, and you have placed me on that path to help them grow and discover how you can use them. I am not equipped to raise them on my own. I need your wisdom to bring them up in a way that is pleasing to you. You know their needs better than I do.

I don’t measure up. Many times I fail, and it seems like other moms have it together. I know they struggle too, but sometimes it’s hard to see. Calm my heart and keep me from comparing myself to what I see with my human eyes. I’ve messed up so many times as a parent and as a wife. Please cover those moments with your grace.

I know the seasons of this life change, and the needs of my children change as they grow. I ask for wisdom and resources to meet their needs in each season. Help me to stay grateful and appreciative through the frustrating moments. Each step of this journey is part of your amazing plan.

My heart longs for my children to know you. I pray that you will reveal yourself to them and show them the incomparable love you have for each one. I want their faith to be their own, not something they feel forced into. I want them to know you intimately. I want them to want to follow you all the days of their lives. Open their hearts. Open their arms to serve you. Guide them as only you can.

Help me to show them love, support, and understanding. Lord, take away my own expectations of parenting so you can shine through. Let me be a vessel for your truth that needs to be spoken into their lives, and I ask for eyes to see them the way you do.

You have graciously given each one special gifts. I need the wisdom to know how to help them use these gifts to honor you. Do incredible things in their lives individually, and I ask that you use our family to be a light in this dark world.

May I be transparent when it comes to my walk with you so that I can set an example for them. Even in the midst of struggles, failures, and mistakes, may they see your grace, love and forgiveness.

Thank you for entrusting these children to my care. With your strength and wisdom I will embrace the path laid out before me. Thank you for always being present in my life. I watch with anticipation as you reveal yourself to my children, and I thank you for using them to reveal yourself to me. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Fearing Our Children Growing Up In This World

There are moments I fear what the world is going to be like as my girls get older. I look at the terrible things happening right now. In light of another school shooting, I get that pit in my stomach when it comes to thinking about letting my kids out in this world. My momma bear instincts want to protect them each step of the way. Sometimes I don’t want to let them out of my sight. Oh, kindergarten is going to be tough in a few years.

Do I want my kids to experience life? Yes! Do I want them to make a difference? Absolutely!

I want them to touch the lives of those around them, and the only way for them to do that is by being around people. So profound, huh? But it’s still hard to let them go. As they get older, they’re going to get to know people I’ve never met. Yikes.

If I let it, my mind thinks of all the terrible things that could happen to my children. Even if I’m with them every minute of every day, something bad could happen. They’ve already gotten hurt while under my watch. That’s the reality of it, but somehow we convince ourselves that not letting them go is going to keep them safe. It just makes us feel like we have more control, but we don’t.

There’s only One who has control.

Our God is bigger than anything that could ever happen.

God is with my children every moment of their lives. He is right there with yours as well, and never will He leave, no matter what comes.

My momma’s heart takes so much comfort in Joshua 1:9. "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

Huge sigh of relief! I can feel those protective arms wrap around me. They wrap around my children.

The Lord our God is with us. He is with our children. It doesn't matter where in this world they go. It doesn't matter what they do. He is with them. No matter what happens, I know God holds my children in His hands.

I don't need to worry about them. They are His, and He loves them even more than I possibly could. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Precious Blessings

On my heart today are those dear mommas who have lost babies.

Those mommas who have never held their precious child in their arms. Those mommas who had a sweet child welcomed into the arms of God too soon. Those women who long to be mommas. They are all on my heart today.

I admit, there are moments I just want a break from motherhood, moments it would be nice to be in control of my entire day. I remember life before children. It was easy (even though I didn’t think so at the time). I could go to the grocery store without having to plan it around nap times. I could sleep until when I wanted on the weekends. For crying out loud, I could pee in peace.

Yes, life was easier then, but it is so much more blessed now. God reminds me of that at the perfect times when I feel exhausted. Sometimes I get caught up in my own frustrations that I forget how good I have it.

I have friends who have lost babies, friends who have struggled with infertility, friends who would give anything for sleepless nights, dirty diapers, and a crying baby. How ungrateful am I to complain about a tough day with my little ones!

Today, I’m going to thank God when my baby cries.

When my toddler makes a mess at lunch.

When she begs to play outside when I want to clean the house.

When my baby would rather be rocked in my arms than put down in her crib.

When my toddler tests my patience.

I am going to thank God for these two blessings in my life.

For those mommas who hurt from losing a child, know that I’m praying for you today. You are on my heart, and I am lifting you up to God. May He comfort you in a way only He can.

For those tired mommas wanting a break, I’m praying that God reminds you of the incredible blessing in your arms. Squeeze your kids a little tighter, and as you do, please join me in saying a prayer for those mommas who wish they could do the same.

Friday, September 11, 2015

You Matter

Moms Group started at church today, and this is the first time I’m participating. I’m excited to see what God has in store for this year, and I am purposefully looking for His hand in it because I want to be blown away by His power and love!

I’m excited about building new relationships with moms in the trenches of motherhood. What a difficult and isolating place it can be sometimes, but what an incredible job we have been given. God has entrusted us with little lives to mold.

I’m the quiet, reserved type of person, so putting myself out there to meet new people does not come naturally. Many times I would love to sit in the corner of the room, but I’ve also been hurt in the past when I have felt alone in a crowd. I’ve been hurt when it felt like I didn’t matter.

Motherhood is tough, and one of my prayers for Moms Group is that I will be encouraged, but I also pray God uses me to be an encouragement to other moms. May we build connections with each other and share our hearts with one another.

We all have something to learn from each other, and God has placed us exactly where we are to impact the lives of those around us.

Who can you impact today? Who is on your heart? Who needs encouragement?

I’m learning to listen to the whispers of the Holy Spirit. When someone comes to mind, do you push the thought out of your head? Or do you take a moment to pray for them? You might not know what they’re going through, but God does. 

Be an encourager. 

Lift them up in prayer. Send them a text or an email. Maybe even drop a letter in the mailbox. In our world of technology, I am always thrilled when there’s a card in the mail. Seeing handwritten letters makes me feel like I matter to someone.

We each matter. We matter as a woman. As a mom. As a sister. As a daughter. As a child of God.

We matter.

God wants us to be encouraged and be encouragers to others.

As a mom of daughters, I think it’s extremely important to let them know they matter. There are too many negative things in this world that try to devalue them or make them question their value, but they matter.

I also want them to see the value in other people. I want them to be encouragers.

Will you join me in praying for God to place someone on your heart? Be a light in their life. Even if you don’t know what they’re going through, just let them know that you’re thinking about them. Allow God to do the rest.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Motherhood Isn't for Type A Personalities

I’m tired.

It’s been one of those days where my children have not been on the same schedule. After a lot of back and forth, the house is finally quiet. Deep breath. I will get through the day.

Some days I need to remind myself of that more than others. This is one of them.

I take solace in Jesus’ promise: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV)

I am weary and burdened.

I need rest.

Even though I’m a stay-at-home mom, I’m also a work-from-home mom. I work two part time jobs from my kitchen table, bed, couch, desk, chair on the porch, or wherever I am when I get a chance. Since I don’t punch in at a certain time, that means I’m always working around my daughters’ schedules. Early in the morning, nap time, and after they go to bed are my “office” hours. 

When my days don't go as planned, I find myself stressing out and becoming overwhelmed by everything.

The baby cries…I want to cry.

The dishes aren’t washed…I want to cry.

I don’t know what to make for supper…I want to cry.

The toilet paper roll is empty…and I cry. Are you kidding me?

The stress of an “unproductive” day has gotten the best of me. When my feet hit the floor in the morning, I anticipated getting more done, but that’s not the way the day has gone.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21 NIV)

My own expectations lead to disappointments. Disappointments lead to frustration, and frustration leads to bitterness.

Everyone in the house gets that bitterness taken out on them, which isn’t fair. They didn't do anything to deserve it. Instead, it's my own sin and selfishness getting in the way.

Instead of being negative about it, which is the easiest response, I'm going to look for the good in it. Yes, I haven’t been able to accomplish all that I've planned, but I've had great one-on-one time with my kids. What a blessing! Time with my girls has more value than any paycheck I could ever receive.

Sometimes I think motherhood isn’t for “Type A” personalities. I'm a workaholic and can be quite uptight. Those tendencies have made for stressful moments, because life with little ones rarely goes as planned.

Motherhood has stretched me in ways that make me feel like I’m an old rubber band ready to snap. It's a slow process, but I'm learning the importance of going with the flow. Getting upset about something not going how I planned only causes more stress for my family and sets a bad example for my daughters.

I’m going to take a deep breath and change that toilet paper roll.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Feeling Like Martha

I fail.

I fail every single day.

If you walk in my house at any given moment, you will find at least one of these things, but sometimes it's all of them...dirty dishes in the sink, dirt and food stains on the floor, laundry waiting to be folded or put away, groceries still sitting out, toothpaste marks in the bathroom sink, and toys on the floor. Oh, the toys!

The battle to keep a clean house is real. It’s one that never ends, and more often than not I feel defeated by it.

Do you have those moments, too? Moments where you feel like a failure? Moments you feel defeated because it can’t be perfect?

I was having one of those days. Everything needed done, and there was not enough time to do it all.

I consumed my time with the tasks that needed accomplished that I was forgetting the most important part of staying at home. Investing in my children seemed to take a back seat.

It reminds me of the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). Many times I feel like Martha: always worrying about the preparations that I forget to sit at the Lord’s feet. So many times I worry about the to-do list that I forget God is revealing himself to me when I spend time with my children.

My 22-month-old daughter walked into the kitchen as I was getting super started that evening. She pulled up the stool and wanted to help me make spaghetti. It was in that moment that I realized she didn't care about all the items still left my to-do list. She didn't care that the house was a mess. All she wanted was to spend time with her mom and be a helper. She wanted me to notice her.

She had the right priority, and God was using her to adjust my own. I find that God uses my kids to teach me more lessons than I ever thought I had to learn.

As she helped me butter the bread, I couldn't care less about the rest of the house. I was soaking up that priceless time. Won't you join me and do the same?

Thank God for the mess in your house. It means you have a family to care for and love.

Let’s leave the mess for a moment so we can spend time with the precious members of that family. It won’t be wasted, and God is just waiting to reveal himself. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Middle of the Night Prayers

On my heart today are those mommas in the middle-of-the night-feeding stage. The mommas with heavy eyes during the day because they’ve been pulled from their bed by a baby who hungers for milk and comfort. The mommas who long for days children become more self-sufficient.

When I found myself in the midst of hearing crying babies at one o’clock in the morning, all I wanted was to pull my blanket over my head. Maybe if I ignored them they would fall asleep. But they needed me. They needed a new diaper, and all they wanted was to curl up in my arms and nurse. I wanted to deny them of that? Talk about feeling like a bad mom.

When my oldest began sleeping through the night, I was thrilled. I was getting a full night’s sleep. I could function more during the day. Things were getting back to normal. But when she didn’t feel well and needed my comfort in the middle of the night, I remember rocking her in the darkness of her room.

The neighbor’s outdoor light crept in through the window, providing a dimness that was calm. As we rocked back and forth, I felt blessed to spend that moment with her. The house was quiet. My husband was asleep. It was just the two of us. The stillness of the moment filled my heart with joy, and I actually missed those middle of the night feedings we left behind months and months ago.

Did I just think that to myself?

So when baby number two came along, I decided I was going to use that time wisely. I was going to appreciate it more because I knew it would be gone in the blink of an eye.

I found those hours to be great for praying. I prayed for my daughter: for her future, for her health, for our relationship. I lifted her up to God and asked him to use her for incredible things.

God met me in those middle of the night feedings, and I was able to see how precious they were. God is meeting you in those wee hours of the morning, too. Can you feel him?  

Take heart, mommas. This stage is not going to last forever. But while you’re in it, I hope you will begin to change the lens through which you look. Yes, sleep is a beautiful thing, and sometimes we long for it so strongly because it’s out of our reach. But know that you are blessed to have this time with your child.

No one else can provide your comfort.

No one else gets to have these moments with her, moments you’ll hopefully begin to treasure.

God can use this time to strengthen your prayer life. God can use this time to build a connection with your child that will last a lifetime. God can use this time to change your life. He can and he will if you allow him.

When your eyes are heavy and you feel like you’re going to stop functioning if you don’t get sleep sometime soon, take comfort in the fact that you are fulfilling God’s plan. You are providing something to your child that no one else can give. And in the midst of that, praying for your child is going to bless her (and you) in ways you can’t even imagine.

I don’t know what my girls’ lives hold, but I know God is holding them.

God is also doing a great work in each of our lives.

He is there.

Invite him into that dimly lit room at one in the morning. As your child fills up on milk, allow yourself to be filled by God’s presence.

Not sure what to pray? I have been encouraged by the Proverbs 31 Ministry, and Lysa TerKeurst, the president of that ministry, has written a wonderful post: “10 Prayers for Your Daughter” (at the bottom of her post is also a link for prayers to pray for your son).

May these words bless and encourage you as you walk your journey of motherhood. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Enjoying the Chaos

The kids are starting to stir. They will soon be up, and the house will be filled with noise. My oldest daughter, almost two, will be asking for me to play with her on the floor. My youngest daughter, almost three months, will either be cooing at her sister or crying to let me know she wants fed. The silence in this moment is nice, but I know there will come a time I long for the noise.

My husband, a teacher, left this morning for the first day of in-service meetings. It has been a blessing having him home all summer, especially since we added another sweet girl to our family and I had a long recovery from hemorrhaging six weeks after our daughter was born.

Having him leave this morning made me uneasy. I’m on my own. I am now outnumbered. There are two children and only one of me. The list of things to do is never ending, and I feel like my arms are always full and my feet are never still.

But I hear God whispering to my heart, reminding me to enjoy these moments with my children, for they will be gone before I know it. While this season may be difficult, there is great joy in it. And it is just that, a season. It will pass in the blink of an eye.

As I got out of the shower, one I raced through because I have no back-up in the house, I realized that in five years my world will be completely different. Both children will be in school. My house will be empty. Maybe I’ll finally be able to keep it clean. Maybe I’ll be able to stay on top of my to-do list. But I know I will also long for the noise, chaos, and toys strewn all over the living room floor.

Right now, in this moment, my children are here. There are needing ME. They are loving on ME. They are making memories with ME. As the seasons change, they will be maturing, needing me less. They will be loving on me in a different way, and they will have others in their lives to make memories.

While I am a little nervous about what today and the rest of the school year brings with two little ones, I’m going to soak up every minute of the chaos because right now it’s my chaos. God has blessed me with the opportunity to be a stay at home mom. While there are days it would be easier going to work, I would miss out on so much with them. This is where God has placed me, and my heart is glad. I’m thankful my arms are filled with a baby and my feet are chasing a toddler.