Category Archives: Homeschooling

Books – my slight obsession and what God is teaching me

2x3a4490

I love books.  I love reading.  I am slightly obsessed with books and reading.  If I were to be a hoarder, I would hoard books. I don’t like giving away or getting rid of any books. My favorite store to be in is a bookstore.  My favorite gifts to receive are books.  As much as I love people and being around people, after times of socializing, I always feel the need to hide myself in my bathtub with a good book. Even in my busiest times of life, I still find time to read.  I love to read!!!

My love of reading began at a young age.  I remember my mom reading me Richard Scary books. They were my favorites, especially “Cars and Trucks and Things that Go.”  I liked searching for Gold Bug and was amused by the funny vehicles like the banamobile and the pickle car.   A book called “The Best Loved Doll” was another favorite.   I enjoyed Little House on the Prairie, In Grandma’s Attic, Anne of Green Gables, and Frank Peretti’s Cooper Kids series  (Just to name a few).  When I was 11 years old my Great-Grandmother gave me an entire collection of Nancy Drew books. I read a book a day until I finished that collection.  For Christmas one year, I asked for some books by my favorite author at that time. My parents didn’t just get me a handful of books, but a boxed FILLED with books by this author.  I was thrilled!

I spent many nights reading well past my bedtime.  I would sleep with my bedroom door open and the hall light on, just so I could use the light from the hallway to read late into the night. Christian fiction was my favorite during my teen years.  I also loved my home school literature books, poetry, and history.  God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew and The Cross and the Switch Blade, by David Wilkerson were two books that influenced my walk with Jesus and stirred in me a passion for missions.

As I entered my 20’s I fell in love with Christian historical fiction like Broch and Bodie Theone’s books and Francine Rivers’ Mark of the Lion Trilogy and Lineage of Grace.  I attended Christian Life School of Theology for several years working towards my Masters degree.   In doing so, I had the joy of reading a non-fiction, topical or Biblical study book each month like Dutch Sheets Intercessory Prayer.  The books A Mother’s Touch and A Mother’s Time by Elise Arndt and The Power of Motherhood  by Nancy Campbell greatly influenced me as I began to raise children. The books The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie O Martin and The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, influenced me in my marriage and as a wife.  Smith Wigglesworth’s Biography Ever Increasing Faith inspired me to draw near to God and long for the move of His Holy Spirit.

As I entered my 30s,  I grew hungrier for educational and motivational books.  I love being inspired.  I love the way God uses other people’s experiences and writings to draw me closer to Himself and teach me things. Culture of Honor,  has been one of the most impactful books I’ve read in recent years.

As a homeschooling parent, reading with and to my children is the most important thing I do. Imparting a love for reading in my children is, in my opinion, the greatest educational gift I can give them. More about this to come in another blog post.

img_8575

I am trying to de-clutter my house.  A part of that de-cluttering involves giving away some books.  This is very difficult for me!  I typically am in the process of reading several (okay maybe 10 or more) books at a time.  If I love a book, I’ll read through the whole thing in a few days.  If I don’t love it, I’ll read through the first two thirds of that book and then skim the remainder or just be done with it.  Sometimes,  I find a book I like and intend to read it, so I keep it in my pile of books by my bathtub and every so often pull it out and read a chapter or maybe few paragraphs.  My husband laughs at my ways of reading.  I start reading many more books than I actually finish.. (my husband also enjoys reading, but he starts and finishes one book at a time:))

Just for fun, I decided to take an inventory of the books I have recently finished reading or am currently reading.  I’ve got these books piled in various areas of my home.

My bathroom:  (my favorite place to read therefore the biggest stack of books)
Backyard Homestead – By Carleen Madigan
The Church in the Wilderness-Chip Brogden
You and Me Forever – Francis and Lisa Chan
Fervent – Pricilla Shirir
Staying Heathy with the Seasons – Elson  M. Haas
Bread and Wine – Shawna Niequist
Rooted – Banning Liebscher
No Little People – Francis Schaeffer
The Art of Homemaking – By Edith Schaffer
Mr.Brown Can Moo – By Dr. Suess and Kitty’s Clothes – By Amye Rosenberg(For my littles while I’m getting ready)
Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Qutations
And a few magazines – Coastal Living, Above Rubies, DoTerra Living
100 Days of Inspiration – Serene Allison, Pearl , Nancy Campbell,
Dreams – By Dr. Joe Ibojie

My Nightstand:
Keeping the Little in Your Girl -Dannah Gresh
Strongs Concordance
The Reese Chronological Bible
My favorite Bible
The Family Meal Table and Hospitality – By Nancy Campbell (I refer to this time and again for inspiration)
The Shofar Blew – Francine Rivers
30 Days of Praise – By Becky Harling
Why Still Care About Israel – By Sandra Teplinksy
Taking Charge of Your Fertility,The Definitive Guide to Natural Family Planning and Reproductive Health – Toni Weschler
A stack of journals

Current kitchen table books:
The Birchbark House – Louise Erdrich
Meet the Bible – Philip Yancey and Brenda Quinn
Various school books

Just so you know, in my de-cluttering, I moved a number of these books to our bookshelf, put a few in our give away box, and kept some right where they were stacked up by my tub, on my toilet, and by my bed.

My favorite books in the last calendar year, hence ones I have actually read all the way through are:

1) You and Me Forever – Marriage in Light of Eternity by Fancis and Lisa Chan
This book zoomed out my perspective on marriage. It challenged Eric and I to truly look at our marriage in Light of eternity. This book is not a feel good, easy read. It brought a healthy dose of conviction to our hearts and minds that provoked us to change. Our purpose is not to live the most comfortable stress free life we can possibly live. Our purpose is to glorify God and together fulfill the plans he has for us. This book was one of a number of things that helped prepare our hearts to start Lighthouse Dance. This book encouraged us to live adventurously for the sake of the gospel of Jesus!

2) Embracing Obscurity – Author Unknown
I actually read this book last year, but have referred to it often ever since. This is probably the most influential and timely book I have ever read.   Embracing Obscurity is so counter-cultural to our world and even the church world today.  Jesus is the ultimate example of humility and obscurity.  This book caused me to examine my heart and put into words so many things that I felt but was unable to articulate for myself.  I highly recommend you read this book!

3) Practicing His Presence – Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubach
I read this book sometime during my teen years.  The writers of the letters in this book inspired me to continually practice the presence of God.  I want to think about Jesus constantly.  I want to pray without ceasing. Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubach are two men who practiced the presence of the Lord in such a beautiful and powerful way!  Re-reading this book stirred up my passion for Jesus and desire to continually be in His presence.

4) Bread and Wine – Shawna Niequist
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  Each chapter was like a delicious meal.  I love Shawna’s writing style, the stories, the recipes, and the hospitality tips.  I felt inspired to make the most of our mealtimes, whether we have a simple meal of soup and bread, or a hearty meal with meat, potatoes, and a fancy dessert.  Her writing inspired me to be “me” when it comes to entertaining and cooking.  I recently pulled out my Nancy Campbell The Family Meal Table and Hospitality workbook for more inspiration regarding our family table.

5) And The Word Came with Power by Joanne Shetler and In Search of the Source by Neil Anderson
I’m grouping these two books together because they are both about Bible Translation.  I read these books to our kids as read-a-loud books last school year.  I hope these books influenced our children.  I know they influenced me!  The stories from Bible translators made me realize to a whole new degree how precious the Word of God is.  These Bible translators laid down their lives to translate God’s Word to people groups who did not have scripture in their own languages.  I learned so much about the work of Bible Translators and have so much respect and admiration for them now!

Reading is AWESOME!  Reading books expands our knowledge, opens our eyes to the world around us, inspires us, challenges us, encourages us, entertains us, and oftentimes draws us closer to the heart of God.

The Lord has been speaking to my heart about the greatest book, the Bible.

About a week ago I asked myself the question, “If you were to die today, or if Jesus returned soon, would you feel satisfied with the amount of scripture you have read?  Do you feel like you know it as well as you hope to know it when you go to Heaven?”   The answer is a resounding NO.  I not happy with how well I know the Word.  I want to know it more.  I want to know God more.  I want to enter into eternity having a thorough knowledge of His story as found in His Word.

God’s Word is so full and so amazing that I could spend a thousand lifetimes studying it and still not see everything there is to be seen in scripture.  I only have one life time to study and I actually live in a generation and a place where I can study God’s Word.

img_8366

We live in a generation where we have more access to scripture than any generation before us! The whole Bible and countless study resources are literally at our fingertips every day.  This should make us jump and dance and shout for joy!!!  We are SO blessed to live in a place and time where we can KNOW the Word of God!  To know God’s Word is to know God more.  Why than are we so complacent to really study it out for ourselves?

I waste so much time reading other books, looking at my Facebook feed, or watching Netflix. None of these things are bad in and of themselves,  but I can hear the Father asking me in this season of my life to choose His Word in place of these other things.

I’ve been slowly reading through the Bible again. I’m in 1st Chronicles right now.  As I read through the books of 1st and 2nd Kings I was like, “Whoah”  I don’t remember reading this before!  I was fascinated by the stories of the prophets Elijah and Elisha and learned so much about the Kings of Israel and Judah.  It’s like scripture has been coming alive to me and I’m seeing important truths in stories that I never saw before.

Reading God’s Word on a regular basis stirs up a hunger for more of His Word!  The more I read, the hungrier I get.  The less I read, the more complacent I get.  

Earlier this week I read through a book about prophecy. (I love seeing people use the gift of prophecy and I desire to grow in that area.)  It is a newer book, filled with some stinking amazing stories, and I didn’t want to put the book down. The book had fantastic reviews and though awesome in many ways, I didn’t see it being rooted in scripture. There was scripture in the book, but some of what was there was quoted incorrectly and twisted to fit the point the author was making.  While I took away some good things from the book, the lack of adherence to the totality of God’s word made feel sick, so I threw the book in the garbage (something I’ve done maybe three or four other times in my life.)

I’m now halfway through reading the book Rooted by Banning Liebscher (Founder and Pastor of Jesus Culture).  This book is GOOD!  It’s all about being rooted in Christ and what that process looks like.  He writes a lot about being rooted in scripture.

“If we don’t have our roots in Scripture, we are going to be in serious trouble when peer pressure comes against us to tell us what ‘truth’ is.  Before we know it, we’re going to wake up and realize that at some point we stopped following Jesus and started following the voice of the crowd.  If we are not only to resist the peer pressure and influence of the kingdom – which is our mandate – then we must put our roots down deep in the Word.”

img_8724

God is asking us to be ready, to live ready for His coming.  To live ready for what he’s called us to do on this earth.  To live ready to speak a word, give a gift, or to receive someone he wants to send to us.  He wants us to live ready to live and live ready to die.  He wants us to know Him. He wants us to know His heart and to hear His voice.  He’s given us His Word and His Word is ALIVE!

God wants us to read, chew on, and digest His word.  He also wants us to live it.

Right now, God’s asking of me to live His Word means he’s asking me to search my heart. My prayer has been, search me Oh God and know my heart.  Try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.  He keeps showing me things I need to repent of, showing me areas of my heart that aren’t surrendered to Him.  God is so kind and He is so good.

We live in some crazy times.  Crazy good in many ways and crazy bad in many ways.  Now is the time to be rooted in Christ!  Now is the time to be rooted in HIs Word!  God is asking me to get more and more rooted in His word.  He’s asking me to get into the secret place and read the Bible more than I have ever done before.  He’s asking me to put away all of those other books and snuggle up close to Him.

My husband and I started Lighthouse Dance this past summer.  We strongly desire this dance ministry to bring glory to God!  Lighthouse Dance is the fruit of many prayers and a vision God placed in our hearts many, many years ago, a vision for missions and arts ministry.  We didn’t know what it would look like and where it would be, but now that Lighthouse Dance is here, our hearts feel full and settled and rejoicing in this new beginning.

There is something about stepping into a new season and entering into a new ministry that causes you to seek the face of God.  My fear of the Lord has increased greatly over the past six months.  I realize that Jesus is our source.  He is our way, truth, and life.  He is the foundation of Lighthouse Dance and the builder of the ministry.  More than ever before, I want to be His, rooted and grounded in His word.  I don’t know the years to come are going to look like.  I don’t know all of God’s plans for our lives, our family, and Lighthouse Dance.  I want to live ready!  I want to live in His Word and I want to live out HIs Word.

2x3a4452

I encourage you to ask the Lord to search your heart.  Ask him to show you areas of your heart that you need to surrender to Him.  Whenever He asks us to surrender it is for our good and HIs glory.

I encourage you to read God’s Word!  Join me in forsaking other “loves” to pursue the greatest love.   If you don’t like to read, then listen.  There are plenty of Bible apps with audio versions. It’s ok to start small.  Read and meditate on one verse a day or one chapter a day. Listen to preachers like Alistair Beggs who preach through the Bible expositorily.  Ask God to give you a hunger.  When you ask him to give you a hunger for His Word, He will!  He will give you a hunger and then He will satisfy your hunger.

Get an accountability partner.  A friend and I recently started reading through the book of Psalms.  We read one psalm a day and then text each other what stood out to us in each Psalm. This has been so good for me and is helping me to grow!

img_8338

2 Timothy 3:16
“All Scripture is God breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.”

Psalm 119:1-16
“How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.
10 With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.
11 Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.
12 Blessed are You, O Lord;
Teach me Your statutes.
13 With my lips I have told of
All the ordinances of Your mouth.
14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on Your precepts
And regard Your ways.
16 I shall delight in Your statutes;
I shall not forget Your word.”

Psalm 119:105
“Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

Matthew 24:35
“Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

Hebrews 4:12
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

John 1:14-17
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John *testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” 16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”

Psalm 1:2-3
“But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.”

Deuteronomy 6:4-14
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lordyour God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontalson your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

10 “Then it shall come about when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied, 12 then watch yourself, that you do not forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 13 You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shallworship Him and swear by His name. 14 You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you..”

 

2x3a4487

How to manage (and CONQUER) the daily stresses of being a mom while staying sane

IMG_6583Recently, I asked my 13 year old daughter, “What do you think I do to stay sane as I mother you children and manage the daily stresses of our household?”  She laughed and immediately said, “You take baths.”

This may seem like a strange answer to such a complex question, but it’s actually the first thing that came to my mind when I asked myself that question just a few minutes before asking Emmy.

“What does taking baths have to do with managing a household and staying sane in the process?”

My days are probably like yours;  school, chores, and  extra-curricular activities like dance and gymnastics.  We have church, small group, youth group, grocery shopping, doctor and dentist visits, trips to the library, and play dates with friends.   I try to prioritize exercise, dates with my hubs, and keeping a semi-clean house.   I’ve been seeking simplicity and a slower pace of life, but life with children is BUSY!  There’s no way around it.

Definitions for busy include the following:

Having a great deal to do.  Occupied with or concentrating on a particular activity or object of attention.  Full of activity.  Excessively detailed or decorated; fussy.  Engaged.  To keep occupied. Sustaining much activity.  Cluttered with detail to the point of being distracted. Being in use. Having many things to do.

I can’t read through that list of definitions and think of one mother who is NOT busy.  We are ALL busy.

How do we manage and conquer the day to day tasks at hand?

I became a mother sixteen years ago with the pregnancy of our firstborn, Josiah.  I remember carrying bags of groceries up three flights of stairs to our un-air-conditioned apartment in the heat of summer.  I remember lying on our bed dreaming of the son I was carrying in my womb. When Josiah was born, my whole word seemed to revolve around him.  I was captivated by every facial expression, every sound, and every new thing he did.   I embraced motherhood and continuously asked God for help.

IMG_6303

The day Emmy was born, I went grocery shopping at Walmart.  I had done a full weeks worth of shopping, was carrying those groceries up the stairs to our second story condo when I felt something in my body start to happen, signifying the onset of labor for our baby girl.

I remember feeling afraid that I would not love our new baby as much as I loved Josiah.  The moment I held Emmy in my arms, all fear washed away as I was overcome with love.

IMG_6162

One night shortly after Emmy was born as I was awake feeding her and soothing her cries, I felt so exhausted and overwhelmed.  I started to cry, thinking, “how can I do this?”  “How can I be a mother?”   I called my mom the next morning and told her how overwhelmed I felt.  She assured me that with God as my strength, I could take care of my children, and I could do it with joy. She encouraged me and reminded me that I should embrace this precious time with my newborn girl awake in the night.  It would pass so quickly.

My mom was right.

Isabelle came when Emmy was almost four years old.  Until that point Eric and I had been actively involved in our churches’ young marrieds ministry.  When Isabelle was born, we were thrilled, and we were also exhausted.  I couldn’t even fathom continuing to lead the young married’s small group we had previously been leading.  We left the young married ministry and focused on thriving with our new family of five.

IMG_6229

When Isabelle was two-and-a half, Judah was born.  Judah was full of the most amazing, heart melting smiles, but he was also especially difficult for me in his early years of life.  He was that child who would throw tantrums in the grocery store so bad that I had to leave.  He threw many fits and challenged me every day.  Judah is a strong willed, determined boy!  I struggled with feeling so much love for Judah and also so much frustration.  (Judah is still strong and determined, but he is also full of sweetness, generosity, and creativity with his fits now fewer and farther between.)

IMG_6147

We had FOUR children.  Life was full, challenging, and fun.

We thought we were done having children from my womb.  I gave away almost all of my maternity and baby clothes with the exception of a few keepsakes. We had a dream to adopt a baby from Ethiopia.  Shortly after being accepted into an adoption program, my husband and I went through a difficult time in our marriage.

We had to contact our adoption agency and let them know that we wouldn’t be continuing the process. I was so grieved.  I  wondered how I could manage our home, homeschooling, and caring for our four children as we worked through all that we needed to work through.  God was so faithful, and we did the work we needed to do.  After a difficult and beautiful year of counseling and healing, we got pregnant with baby number five, child of grace, Tirzah Raelle.

With the birth of Tirzah came a joy in motherhood that I hadn’t yet known.   Going from four children to five felt so natural.  Life didn’t feel crazier, it felt calmer.  Tirzah means, “she is my delight.”  We all truly delighted in Tirzah and in our growing family.

IMG_6625

When Tirzah was about eighteen months old, my husband brought up the question of whether or not we wanted more children.  I did NOT feel ready.  LOL!   But Eric did:).  We talked about all of our reasons for not wanting another child and decided they were foolish reasons.   The next month Ruthie was in my womb!

I was so sick in my early pregnancy.  Sick with nausea and also a nasty cold/cough that I couldn’t kick.  I was so sick that I slept in our guest room just so I could cough without waking anyone else up.  I questioned my ability to have another child.  I felt angry, despairing, and less than happy about being pregnant.

During one of those difficult nights I had a dream.  I dreamed that I was giving birth to our baby. I saw myself give birth to a baby girl.   I woke up and knew in my heart that I was pregnant with a girl!  That afternoon I took a bath and poured out my heart in prayer for our baby.   I asked God who she was and what she would be like.  I asked him for her name.   I heard the name RuthAnne.

I cried and cried with joy when I heard her name because I KNEW that is who she was and that my Father had just named her.   I told Eric that I dreamed our baby was a girl and that God had given me her name.  He asked the name, but I wouldn’t tell him.  I told him that if the name was from God, he was going to give it to Eric too.

Shortly thereafter, in the middle of the night, Eric heard the name Ruth Anne, and then he saw the name RuthAnne as one name.   A few days later I asked him if he had heard a name and he told me that he had.   I rejoiced in the Lord when he told me that he had heard and seen the name “RuthAnne”!   God is good and God is REAL!!!

IMG_6593

When Ruthie was born we quickly adjusted to being a family of eight!

We now have two teenagers, a nine year old, a seven year old, a four year old, and a two year old. Life is full, busy, challenging, and crazy good!  Praise the Lord!!!

How do I manage and conquer the day to day tasks at hand? 

I take baths!

Every day I take a bath. Sometimes I don’t get there until 11:00 at night, but I get there.

In my bath I have quiet time.  I read.  I pray.  I dream, and I contemplate my days.  I think through and pray through things that are troubling me.  I ask God for help.  I read God’s Word. I enjoy myself with tea, bubbles, and books.  It’s my time to be Melissa, daughter of God, bride of Christ.  I cry in my bathtub.  I laugh in my bath tub.  I get angry in my bathtub, and I relax in my bath tub.

I get out of that tub, ready for sleep and for a new day.

It’s really not so much about the tub as it is the the quiet time with the Lord. 

This time alone with the Lord, in His Word, in prayer, and in reading good books refreshes me.   This time keeps me sane.

No “how to” matters without these daily times of refreshing with Jesus.

Every “how to” comes from Jesus.

I understand that mothering is a high calling.

I asked my husband Eric the question, “What do you think I do to stay sane as I manage our household and children?”  He thought for a minute and then said, “You realize the high calling of motherhood.”

Ever since becoming a mother,  I have been greatly encouraged by my own mother(who takes a minimum of one bath a day), two books written by my mother’s mentor called “A Mother’s Touch” and “A Mother’s Time,” and by a ministry called “Above Rubies.

The ministry of Above Rubies has helped me to understand that as I mother my children I am doing the greatest kingdom work.   I am serving, pouring out my life, and loving the way Jesus taught us how to love.  I realize I am not alone in this great job of mothering.  I need continually encouragement from the example of other godly mothers!

As I embrace motherhood, all the mundane tasks of mothering become less stressful and much more manageable!  I realize how important, and how honoring to God my role as a wife and mother is.  I see the eternal value of being a mother.  I love being a wife and mother even in the midst of chaos!

I know chaos.  I experience stress.   I know what it’s like to feel exhausted and overwhelmed.  I find my joy and my strength in Jesus and I fill myself with encouragement from His Word and from other women who also embrace and delight in motherhood.

IMG_6194

So what are some “how to” tips for managing and conquering those daily stresses of being a mom? 

1. Take baths everyday, meaning get alone with God, pray, relax, and feed on His Word.

2. Breathe and smile and sing… When you’re in a hurry trying to get out the door and you can’t find any matching socks for your kids, and then you realize you also can’t find them matching shoes because they left them in the van the day before…Then your four year old starts crying that she’s hungry as you spill the tea you intended to bring in the van on yourself…..At that same moment your toddler tells you she pooped. You hurry to change her but you can’t find the diaper wipes so you use paper towels instead….Ok, now your ready to go, but then your thirteen year old remembers that she forgot to let out the chickens.  You look around your kitchen and feel frustrated because your sink is full of dishes that you didn’t get a chance to wash, and there’s a pile of crumbs on the floor that you didn’t get to sweep up…..Then your seven year old loses his first tooth by it literally, randomly flying out of his mouth as he’s heading out the door……Then you realize that you left your cell phone on your bathroom sink so you run to get it, meanwhile your older kids are getting frustrated because you are going to be late to wherever it is you are going.  You finally get into your van when your nine year old realizes she left her back pack by the front door so she runs back into the house to get it….You look back at your beautiful children, but not before noticing how messy your van is and think to yourself  ‘We really need to clean this van, it is disgusting.’ You sigh one of your frustrated sighs as your nine year old enters the van with her back pack and buckles up… You’re now ready to go.  You turn on the radio, say a prayer, and breathe.   You sing and you smile and you pray as you drive even though getting out of the door was so crazy and you are now going to be late to wherever it is you’re going.

IMG_6552

3. Include your children in your day to day tasks.  I think it’s safe to say that unless you are home alone, it is impossible to cook a meal much less use the bathroom without being interrupted by your children.  I’ve learned to include my children in meal making.  I’ve often worn a baby in the Ergo, while having toddler next to me on a stool or sitting on our kitchen counter while I cook.  They love watching me and helping me cook.   The irritation that may come from having them so close while cooking is well worth it in the long run.  I now have three older children who love to cook and bake!  I no longer have to cook every meal, because my children are capable and eager to cook.  Teach your kids how to clean and help when they are young!

4. Let things go! You won’t get everything you want to get done, done in a day.   At least, I rarely do.  Yesterday, I wanted to clean my pantry, go on a walk, wash my kitchen floor, and read-a-loud to my kids.  I didn’t get that walk in, nor did I wash my kitchen floor, BUT I did clean my pantry, take a nap with Ruthie, and read to my kids.  Ask the Lord to show you what needs to be prioritized in your day and don’t fret over what you didn’t get done.

IMG_6203

5. Take care of your body.  Mothers, especially need to eat healthy, try to get good sleep (often this is difficult when we have young babies) and exercise.  It’s easy to think we are too busy or stressed out to make healthy choices for our bodies, but these things make a world of difference when it comes to managing daily stress.   I’m a fan of cutting refined sugar and processed foods out of my diet.  I feel SO much better when I engage in regular exercise like dance, quick 15 minute circuit workouts in my family room, or walks with my kids. Sleep seems to always be a struggle for me as I love staying up late and I’ve had a baby or toddler for most of my married life:).

6. Make love with your husband. What’s making love got to do with it?  A lot!  If you find yourself getting cranky and stressed out, try getting jiggy with your man.  A big “O” can do wonders for your mood, sleep, and relationship with your husband.  You don’t have to be “in the mood” to make love with your husband.  We mamas are not often “in the mood” after a long day of taking care of kids, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t capable of making love.  Go for it, get it started, and the results will help keep you sane.

7. Don’t journey through motherhood alone.   We need help as we mother our children. We need older women who have “been there and done that” to encourage us and teach us. We need friends who will pray for us.  We may need someone to cook a meal for us, help us clean, or babysit our children.   It is important for us to reach out to other women, especially when we are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.   It is important for us to immerse ourselves in truth and encouragement. Ask for help and ask for prayer!!!

IMG_6237

8. Consider the needs of others.  When you are feeling overwhelmed, think of people in your life who are going through a trial and pray for them, send them a text, or give them a call. Sometimes we can get so focused on our own struggles, that we forget about the struggles of the people around us.  Choose to consider the needs of others and you’ll find your own trials seeming less painful.  Every day brothers and sisters around the world experience the same difficulties we do.  We are never alone….

9. Have FUN and practice gratitude!!! What brings you joy?  What do you have fun doing? Painting, running, watching movies, playing board games, dancing, hiking, or eating out?  What are you thankful for?  Beautiful sunsets, coffee, dandelion bouquets, chocolate, the smell of rain?  Just because we are mothers doesn’t mean we stop having fun.  I kinda think moms have the potential to have the most fun of anyone in the world.  Gratitude for all the little things makes life as a mom way more fun.  Do the things you love to do and be grateful every single day!

IMG_5837

 

The Virtuous Wife (and mom)

10 Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.
15 She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,
And a portion for her maidservants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor,
Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes tapestry for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies sashes for the merchants.
25 Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.

This Proverbs 31 woman was a busy gal.  She worked hard in many areas as she took care of her family. Ultimately, what caused her husband and children to praise her was not her beauty or her success, but her fear of the Lord.

Love God above all else!  Put Jesus first and you’ll stay sane and CONQUER the daily stresses of life!

 IMG_6200

 

IMG_6133

 

IMG_6546

IMG_6619