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Finding God Everyday Freedom | Identity Now Found Blog

What Names Are You Calling Your Children

A friend of mine is mama to three wonderful sons. I’m sure they’re quite human, with flaws and weaknesses. But I only know that because they have pulses beating. From my friend’s mouth comes life spoken over these sons of hers. She may be younger than me, but she’s a mama-mentor to me especially on those difficult days when it’s hard to see the amazing in my children.

She has names for her sons that call them into their identity, like “The Strong One” and “Lil Warrior.” I’ve never heard her complain about her sons. I’ve only ever heard her speak of her prides and joys with genuine pride and joy. These names she calls them by not only lift them up, but they call out identity from within.

So, when God spoke to my heart last month, giving me new names for my family members, I was thrilled! I was at a women’s conference and it was during worship on Friday night when I heard Him speak. And He spoke newness and life and identity. He gave me new names that I was now tasked with speaking over my family members.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.” Revelation 2:17

When bedtime comes for the little ones, I’m usually more than ready for it. But that night was different. I gathered my brood on the living room floor…me, with bubbling-over excitement and a sense of urgency…them with a look of confusion on their faces. And life tumbled from my lips.

My daughter, I declared, is called “The Worshiper.” It’s fitting for this little girl who can sing praises for hours with hands lifted. It’s a challenge, calling her to focus on the blessings all around, thanking the One responsible for giving.

My son, “Servant Leader”…in that order. He loves to serve and he loves to lead. This name puts in focus the reality that in order to be a leader worthy of being followed, he must first be a servant. Then, those he serves will know that he leads with their best in mind rather than according to his own agenda.

My husband received his name, “The Tackler,” which is hugely appropriate for this football fan. But, football aside, here stands a man of God who moves forward in fearless obedience to God, ready and willing to tackle any challenge before him. Here is a man who can be trusted with immense tasks because he first trusts God to equip him.

Then there was me: “Water Walker.” Of late, songs like Oceans and You Make Me Brave have spoken vibrantly to my soul, calling me out beyond the safety of the shore and into the unknown. Whether the waters are choppy due to storms or calm in the mundaneness, walking across them is miracle. God is calling me out to walk over the impossible situations, be they stormy or mundane…and to see the miraculous in every moment.

What about you? Do you have names for your children? Your husband? Yourself? Are they names full of life or are they, honestly, full of death?

In the recent weeks since being given these names, there have been some tough mommy moments, where my kids’ behavior hasn’t aligned with who they are. This reminder is where I go; what I speak over them again and again.

To the son demanding his own way, “Who are you, son?” “I’m the Servant Leader.” A shift occurs…

To the daughter beginning to whine…. “Who are you, daughter?” “The Worshiper.” A new perspective…

To my own soul, when I feel pulled down under the weight of impossible things, “Who am I?” Water Walker…taking miracle-steps through storms and mundane alike.

God has a new name for you too. One that speaks to who you are, how He sees you. Would you stop today and ask Him? What does He declare over your children? How does He see your husband? Who does He say you are? And…will you agree with Him?

[This post first appeared at Next Level Mama.]

InTENtionality-cover-w-impr
10 ways to apply 10 minutes inTENtionally!

 

Are you inTENtional in your relationships with your children? Beneath the weight of living and day-to-day responsibilities, it’s so easy to stay in survival mode. We think it’s too hard…we aren’t doing enough…WE aren’t enough. But God always is. When we partner with Him in raising these kiddos He’s entrusted to us, when we put aside time on purpose, we can live inTENtionally. Check out my latest ebook, The inTENtional Mama, a quick-read where the inspirational meets the practical day-to-day. You’ll be blessed, uplifted, inspired, and equipped to become an inTENtional Mama! [Available where ebooks are sold!]

 

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Finding God Everyday Now Found Blog

Are You An inTENtional Mama?

Are you inTENtional in your relationships with your children? Beneath the weight of living and day-to-day responsibilities, it’s so easy to stay in survival mode. We think it’s too hard…we aren’t doing enough…WE aren’t enough.

I read an article a while back (forgive me for not remembering the author!) which said something very freeing: “As parents, we don’t need to be fully present to our kids ALL of the time. But, we do need to be fully present SOME of the time.”

What I was doing was being semi-present ALL of the time, hounded by mama-guilt that I wasn’t doing enough. But then, God showed me how to apply ten minutes at a time with inTENtionality.

I realized how powerful 10 minutes can be in helping me be fully present to my children some of the time, which is far better than only being semi-present all of the time. There are meals to cook and laundry to do and work to accomplish and urgent tasks that require attention. And kids can enjoy time playing on their own or with siblings or friends.

But I can know now that when I’m with my kids, I can have inTENtional times where I’m truly with them!

My latest book dives into very practical detail as to how to be inTENtional with 10 minutes. Currently, it is available for FREE downloads to all subscribers to Now Found Ministries. (Once you subscribe, you will receive an email with your access code.) The inTENtional Mama is available for Kindle, iBooks, and Google Play.

I pray this is a resource that you will find a very practical blessing in your relationship with your child! Be the amazing mama you are! Be inTENtional!

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Finding God Everyday Now Found Blog

Finding God In Our School Days

Colored Mechanical Pencils

Many of us are gearing up for the upcoming school year.  We’re buying school supplies, hitting the back-to-school sales, registering our kids, and planning curricula.  It looks a bit different for each family and for each route of education.

One friend of mine is a single mom whose son is getting ready to enter kindergarten at a local, public school, but only after she researched every possible education option available. Then there’s my friend who’s married and would love to homeschool her three boys, but has been told by God that He has a plan for them in public school. I also have a friend who wants to homeschool, but her hubby isn’t on board and she’s choosing to honor him by going the public school route, all the while supplementing her children’s education at home as needed.  Then there’s another who was adamantly opposed to homeschooling who, in one year’s time, has turned a definitive 180 and now embraces her call from God to educate her kids at home.

Easily half of my friends home educate their children; the other half utilize public and private schools. But one thing I know without a doubt is this: each and every one of them loves their children and wants the absolute best for them.  Most of these friends have taken great pains to research every option they have in order to determine what is the best route for their family.  Those who are married have talked it through with their spouses.  Those who aren’t have talked with loved ones.  I’ve been a sounding board for many of them, just as many friends were sounding boards to me so many times as I figured it all out.

Here’s what I love about those who have diligently researched, regardless of their ultimate decision: They didn’t assume that one way or the other was the default.  They didn’t just go with one option because, “That’s what you do.”  They thought deeply, asked probing questions, considered the implications, and prayed!

When our kids were still toddling around, the route for their education was an ongoing conversation between Steve and me.  I had a gut feeling (really more of a God-feeling) that homeschooling was the call on our family, but honestly, I just didn’t want to.  My husband, on the other hand, didn’t want to budge on his stance that this was the best path for us.  The arguments rolled in my mind: “Sure, Steve, but you aren’t the one who will have to execute this day in and day out”…”I’m an introvert and I might self-implode if I don’t have that time to myself”…”What about all the lost opportunities for extracurricular activities which are my only truly happy memories from my public school career?”…and so on.

So, I began to pray.  I prayed most of all for God to give me a vision about our children’s education.  What did it look like to Him?  What truly mattered?  And He answered…in a clear and beautiful way.  He gave me a heart for home education, vision and mission statements to guide our school, and core values to underscore our teaching.  Here’s what it looks like for our family:

Vision-Mission Image

 

He gave me this.  I simply wrote it out and framed it.  These words now hang in our homeschool room, a daily reminder of what our focus is and, more importantly, why.  You see, education is so much more than reading, writing, and arithmetic.  Education, as the Bible lays it out, is discipleship.  (See Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

Education doesn’t end with the basic subjects; and truthfully, it shouldn’t even start there.  Education done God’s way should start with God, regardless of whether your child sits at a desk surrounded by other kids or at the dining room table at home.  It isn’t a task to shirk off on school-teachers, thinking that is enough.

My diligent, public school mama-friends get to know their kids’ teachers, volunteer in the classroom, supplement education at home, intentionally disciple their children at home and church, and give support with homework and tutoring.  My home-educating mama-friends carefully select curriculum, rearrange schedules to prioritize homeschool time, get involved in homeschool groups and other activities to keep their kids engaged with others, stand their ground in the face of opposition from well-intentioned loved ones, and balance educating multiple age groups at once.  Each way has its own challenges to overcome.

My challenge to you today is, first, to stop partaking in attacks on those whose path may be different from yours; and, also, to remember that regardless of the path you take, ask God for His vision for your family and your children’s education.  Put out encouraging words to those friends of yours who are trying to figure it out.  Put up a vision statement where you can see it every day and remember the why behind your what.

Your children do not belong to your parents, or the government, or the local school, or your outspoken friends.  Your children are just that: your children…gifts from God for you to guide and steward according to His plan rather than your agenda.

Today, will you take this challenge?  Will you choose to encourage rather than join in on attacks?  Will you ask God for His vision for your family, ready to receive whatever it is He has to say?  Will you choose to start with Him?

 

For those of you who need some help and inspiration as an educating parent, I highly recommend Educating The Whole-Hearted Child by Clay & Sally Clarkson.  This has been an inexhaustible resource for me, touching on every aspect of education, giving insight on learning styles and various curricula, inspiring an environment for life-long learning, and so much more.  I received it as a gift and when anyone asks me about how to start homeschooling, reading this book comes second only to getting a vision from God.

 

Photo Source Maya83 via Flickr

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Finding God Everyday Now Found Blog

The “Yes” Challenge

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As a mom, I tend to say “no” a lot.  It has many forms: “maybe in a little bit”…”not right now”…”let me finish this first”…”just a minute” (then an hour passes)…”Mommy’s busy right now”…and so on.

And, yes, there are perfectly appropriate times for “no”: “no, don’t touch the stove”… “no, we can’t see them today because we have to wait for everyone to be healthy again”… “no, that’s not safe”…etc.

But, there are plenty of “no’s” I give that could easily be “yes’s”…that could encourage my little ones to keep asking, keep seeking me out, keep coming up with creative ideas!  Oftentimes, my “no” stems from my own busy-ness or just plain selfishness, when I’m tired or just not feeling up for (yet another) round of playing dolls.  Can anyone relate??

Yes, my children need to learn appropriate times to ask, which usually do NOT include: when I’m on a phone call…when I’m in the shower…when my husband and I are in the middle of a conversation.  That’s just teaching manners.  But being intentional, as I’ve grown to be, to keep phone calls during the day minimal and letting them know I will talk with them after I’m dressed, or reminding them to wait their turn can all be more readily accepted when they’ve gotten plenty of “yes’s” to their sweet requests throughout the day.

You see, they just want me to enter their world.  And, at the ages of 5 and 6, this is the window of time where they freely invite me to enter their world just because I’m Mom.  But, this window won’t necessarily always be here.  Soon, this window will only remain open because I’ve kept it open during this foundational time of establishing a two-way road in our relationship.

If my kiddos primarily hear “no” in this period of time, then I may face having to hear “no” from them in a few years when I’m ready to enter their world.  This is the window…now!

So, I’m taking the Yes Challenge, and I want you to join me!  For one entire day (baby steps, people!) let’s seek out opportunities to say “yes” to our little ones!  Of course there must be “no’s” here and there for safety’s sake and such, but at least for one day, can you open yourself up to saying “yes” as many times as possible?  It may just make a “no” easier to take for them.  It may just help you appreciate their world more today.  It may make you want to say “yes” again tomorrow.  So, what do you say?

What are some ways you can say “yes” today?

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Finding God Everyday Now Found Blog

When I’m Not Enough…He Is

SuperMom Action Figure - the transformation

Yesterday was one of those days in my land of mommy-hood…struggling to make it through the day…frustrated at the seemingly constant need for redirection, melt-down diffusion, and overall discipline.  After these many moments with my son, when bedtime came for the kids, I was amazed when he skipped over to me with a smile and asked me to tuck him in.  I figured after the day we’d had that he would much prefer Daddy to do the honors tonight.  But, no.  He wanted me!  He held my hand all the way to his room…cuddled under the covers…turned over to give me a huge, squeezy hug and a sweet little-boy kiss.  Before I closed his door, he said, “I love you, Mommy!”

So many things in life right now are great…exciting…fresh…wonderful.  But then there’s that one glaring area of parenting where I find myself of late feeling like I’m failing, just trying to make it through the day.  And it stings especially because tomorrow celebrates all of us “moms”!

A little while after getting him to bed, I was getting myself ready to sleep too and this realization came to me: “I am not enough!”  But this time, it wasn’t the condemning voice of the enemy that I heard.  It was me…realizing that my “not enough” added to God’s “more than enough” is plenty!  And instead of feeling the brooding sense of failure, I felt a spark of hope.  I don’t HAVE to be enough, because He is!

I don’t have to be super-mom.  I don’t have to have all the answers.  I don’t have to conjure up the strength to do this thing called motherhood.  I am not enough so that I can lean on the One Who is!

I also don’t have to believe the lies that tell me I’m failing when my kids disobey or that my voice doesn’t matter when they don’t listen.  Because reality is that I am succeeding and my voice makes a HUGE impact in my kids’ lives!  When I tell my son how proud I am of him, he beams! When I tell my daughter how beautiful she is, inside and out, she smothers me with hugs!  To them, I’m the best mom in the world!  (Taking a humble moment to really believe that myself!)

I can trust in my kids who actually want me around, even after having been with me all day, every day.  And tomorrow, when the “Happy Mother’s Day” sayings abound, I don’t have to feel condemnation in my “not enough”.  I can remember my God Who is. 

Are you a mom struggling to see the fruit of your labors?  Don’t believe the lies that you’re a failure.  You’re not!  You are the best mom in the world to those kiddos you love and give yourself to every day!  And God will make up every area of “not enough” you have with His “more than enough”.  

 

InTENtionality-cover-w-impr
…where the inspirational meets your practical day-to-day mama-hood…”

 

Are you inTENtional in your relationships with your children? Beneath the weight of living and day-to-day responsibilities, it’s so easy to stay in survival mode. We think it’s too hard…we aren’t doing enough…WE aren’t enough. But God always is. When we partner with Him in raising these kiddos He’s entrusted to us, when we put aside time on purpose, we can live inTENtionally. Check out my latest ebook, The inTENtional Mama, a quick-read where the inspirational meets the practical day-to-day. You’ll be blessed, uplifted, inspired, and equipped to become an inTENtional Mama! [Available where ebooks are sold!]

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo source

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Finding God Everyday Now Found Blog

“I Want to Be Like You”

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We were running early this morning…miracle of miracles!  I told my kids to go play for a few minutes while I finished getting ready, but my daughter followed on my heels saying with her four-year-old confidence, “I can help!”.  With only makeup left to put on, I laid out my eyeshadows and told her she could pick the two shades I’d wear today.  With a determined look, she pointed her tiny finger to one and then to another.  So, it’ll be lavender and a pale pink today (because they’re sparkly, of course).  “Good job, hon!”

She immediately asked if she could wear some too.  “Why do you want to wear some?” “Because I want to be like you!”

Now, I’m not much for make-up caked on sweet baby faces, but I love sharing these little moments with her, using a very light swipe on her eyelid…thrilling for her, but still undetectable to the naked eye.  Win-win!

Hair came next…mine is just a ponytail today.  Usually her very long curls hang down, but today she wanted a braid…no, wait, “Mom, I want a ponytail so I can be just like you!”  Matching ponytails it is.

I love it when she wants to be like me.  But it humbles me too, when I think of all the other ways, all the things I’m still growing in…where I don’t “have it down” yet.   It’s so sweet to see her look up at me like I have all the answers, trusting me because I’ve just always been here…and it doesn’t hurt that she has my blue eyes and curly hair.

When she looks at me like that, follows on my heels, it makes me want to be so much more like my Father so she’ll be more like Him too!  I passed on to her the hair and the eyes…and the love for singing…and the love of God’s beauty.  But God passes on to us His Spirit…His love…His joy…His patience and peace…His very self.  He doesn’t hold Himself back or get frightened that His children will grow up to look just like Him.  That is His heart’s desire.

Lord, let it be mine!  Let me look so much like You that I don’t fear that my kids will look like me. Because, in following my example, I pray that they’ll actually be following Yours!

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Freedom | Identity Now Found Blog

Who Do You Want to Be?

child playing in dirt

One pet peeve I’ve had as long as I can remember is when I hear people ask children, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My problem isn’t at all with hearing about their interests and dreams. Those are wonderful (and often hilarious) conversations to have! My concern is the word “be”.

The real question they’re intending to ask is, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” But when we use the word “be” we tie personal value to a job. Jobs come and go. They change over time for most of us. And though we gain new skills with each change, who we are stays the same. I am still Courtney whether I am teaching my kids addition, grocery shopping, writing a blog post or playing my guitar. My jobs include: mom, teacher, homemaker, writer and musician. But my being remains the same.

I’ve heard the quip many times, as I’m sure you have, “We are human beings, not human doings!” I love it! It is so true at its core. But, do we live like this? Do we raise our children like this? Or, are we so focused on the doing that we fool ourselves into thinking that we are actually being?

Is it as simple to define “being” as it is “doing”? My son wants to do the work of a firefighter…My daughter, a ballerina. But who will they BE?

My prayer over them is that they be leaders worthy of following, reflecting the identity of Jesus in their lives. I pray over them, just as Paul encouraged Timothy, that they would set examples to others “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Tim. 4:12) It doesn’t matter what job you have…what you do! You can be this kind of example regardless of a career choice or benefits package or salary size.

This is one primary reason why, as we homeschool our kiddos, we focus more on character building than stressing on academics. The academics are so important and have their time and place, without doubt! But, they are futile if we neglect to train up the beings of our children! I would much rather raise a kind, loving, generous, humble child, than a selfish, arrogant, prideful child who may do a bit better on academic fact-regurgitation. I fail them if I only fill their minds with information and neglect to nurture their souls with God.

Who do you want your children to be? Who do YOU want to be?

 

InTENtionality-cover-w-impr
Learn how to practically speak into your child’s life as you infuse them with identity 10 minutes at a time! An easy read with life-changing results, you’ll discover real-life help to strengthen the bonds you have with your child and keep your sanity too. Available on Google Play. Download your copy today!

 

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Finding God Everyday Now Found Blog

An Honored Position

I came across this snippet of thought a few months back, from the time nearly four years ago when I had a two-year-old and an almost one-year-old keeping me very busy. Now, I’m still busy, in a different sort of way. Those two are older, but still have their definite needs. And now, with adding home school and fostering to the mix you get the idea that life just keeps expanding for us.

When I found this piece, I printed a copy and stuck it on my fridge, on the side right next to the stove where I spend plenty of time preparing food for this ever-expanding family. It is a daily reminder of the why behind my chosen profession. Despite the lack of glamour in my day-to-day, and in the midst of those “about-to-pull-my-hair-out-if-you-ask-me-one-more-question” moments, this helps me refocus on the beauty of this season of motherhood. It helps to recall that mine is not a place of drudgery, but rather one lived while sensing the beauty of each moment.

Enjoy! And, if you’re a mom, I pray you are encouraged!

“An Honored Position”

I am a wiper of runny noses, a tucker-inner come bed-time. I am an expert at the sensitive variances of my baby’s cries. And I am a linguist specialist in the realm of toddler-translation. I am the changer of sheets, the administrator of medicine, the chauffeur  and entertainer. I am the maker of the food and the cleaner of the messes.

When the world is frightening or painful, I am the one they run to for comfort in a reassuring hug. When a mighty accomplishment is made, I am available for a cheer and a high-five. Every step is precious to me. Every smile and clap of the hands. Every acquired word and every ounce gained.

I am a witness to each little life. For every bit of progress made, I am there. I am the one with ears straining to translate the subtle movements heard over the monitor. I am the one policing television intake and protecting their world. I am the teacher, introducing these babes to the world around them. I am Mom.

Now, many see this role as less than a dime-a-dozen, for, after all, there have been billions of mothers throughout the expanse of time. But one thing that makes my role unique from every other and privileged above all else is that I am the only one entrusted to be Mom to these two precious souls (and any future children we will have).

Sure, there are days that are tiresome. Even now, I type with one hand, while my other arm keeps my baby in my lap. My days, and nights for that matter, are no longer my own. For two-and-a-half years, I was either pregnant or nursing; my stretch marks are my battle wounds. My body’s purpose was primarily to pour into another’s livelihood. Every bite I ate was calculated, every medicine carefully chosen. But would I ever trade it, this role, this position in life? Never, ever, ever. (May 5, 2009)

 

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Finding God Everyday Now Found Blog

This Girly-Mama

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Steve and I were beyond thrilled to find out we were expecting our first child about six years ago. We decided to go the surprise-route and not find out the sex of the baby. Now, I’ve always been more of a girly-girl. I have one sister and we never did the tomboy thing – dolls and dress-up all the way! My hubby, on the other hand, was climbing trees, running through forests, playing in forts and other such mud-covered places. Boy through and through.

When our son was born, I distinctly remember my first coherent thought as Steve placed him in my arms: “What on earth am I going to do with a boy?” This question had nothing to do with my son, but everything to do with me!

The elation and immediate mama-love was there and overwhelming! But, still, I wondered and in my wondering, I felt totally inadequate. What did I know about raising a boy and doing “boy things”?

Well, thankfully I have a God who equips and a husband who teaches and a son who apparently doesn’t realize my inadequacies! I don’t have to know it all ahead of time! (MAJOR revelation for this planner-girl here!!)

But what a difference our Father God is! He not only created us on purpose, was thrilled to have us enter into time on earth…but He also has had a plan from before our Day 1 began! He’s never once looked at me and wondered, “What am I going to do with her?” He’s known all along…my identity, my potential, my preferences, my personality…and how to direct all of it every day of my life. I am so thankful that He is such a Parent!

And as for my parenting…I’ve embraced the boyishness…hands in the dirt, climbing trees, using the couch cushions as landing pads for his high-jumping, super-hero capes, wrestling around and finding that my 5-year-old son can actually lift me off the ground if I haven’t braced myself. Not joking.

So when those days come, filled with overwhelm and uncertainty, God gives me some precious little moments when my little man squeezes my neck with all his strength, gives me a very gentle kiss and says, “You’re the best mama in the whole world!” And then this girly-mama gets teary-eyed and says, “You’re the best son in the whole world!”