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Finding God Everyday Now Found Blog

In The Life (Part 1: Priorities)

Welcome to Part 1 of a 4-part series called “In The Life.” I’d like to share a bit about priorities, balancing, and what life looks like for me right now. We’ll chat about putting first things first and some simple principles to live by. Feel free to jump in the conversation and share what your days look like. Thanks for joining me here!

Let’s get started…

Perusing the posts in a writer’s group, I came across a question: Does anyone balance small business, homeschooling, homemaking, writing, and fitness? If so, how? Boy, do I relate!

How can we possibly do it all? Well, honestly, we can’t. At least, not all at once. I’ve found my life ebbs and flows with priorities. Over recent months I’ve felt guilty, like I’m failing in all the important areas of life: relationships with God, my husband, kids, and caring for my own health. After reading an amazing little article by Kat Lee on just this subject, I took a step back. She wisely suggested creating your top 5 list of priorities and retreating to #1 when everything seems to be out of whack, flowing downward from there as each relationship gets in line. I’m in a season where I’m focused on #1 and #2, while still (obviously) maintaining the others as I get my feet under me again. Here are my Top 5:

1. Following God
2. Living Healthy (mentally, emotionally, physically)
3. Loving Steven
4. Discipling My Kids
5. Ministry and Extended Relationships

[Side-Note: For me, I’ve found that if I put “living healthy” further down the list, it simply doesn’t happen. And then it’s harder to love my hubby, disciple my kids, and encourage anyone else. Putting it at #2 (rather than #4) simply makes everything flow, so that the energy and attitude I’ve gained can appropriately feed into the vital relationships I have in my life.]

So what exactly do these brief phrases entail?

FOLLOWING GOD: This refers to the time I spend hanging out with my Savior, listening to His voice, diving in His Word, allowing Him to search me and sift through my stuff. Practically speaking, this time encompasses reading the Bible, writing in my gratitude journal, journaling out my conversations with God, and chatting with Him throughout my day.

LIVING HEALTHY: This is my body-soul section. Included here: exercise, tracking nutrition, taking thoughts captive to the truth of Christ, processing my emotions, recognizing and renouncing lies I’ve believed, speaking life-giving words, etc. This is where my flesh has to be put in its subordinate place to my spirit, which is connected to the Spirit.

LOVING STEVE: My husband has quirks and preferences and his own ways of receiving love. So, loving him can include a multitude of things: sending him a random “I’m thinking about you” text in the middle of the day, keeping those areas decluttered that matter most to him, listening to what he points out and keeping it in mind, being ready to help him on projects around the house, being fully present to him when we have time alone together…basically just considering his wants and needs and keeping my respect for him at the forefront.

DISCIPLING MY KIDS: I’m not only my kids’ mom. I’m also their schoolteacher and a primary life example. My main goals in raising up these lives entrusted to me include: teaching them to love and serve God and others, hear and obey the voice of the Lord, and prepare them spiritually, academically, and practically for life. So, as you’ll see in an upcoming post about our daily schedule, our “official school-time” may seem brief, but truthfully, learning never takes a break.

MINISTRY & EXTENDED RELATIONSHIPS: This is everything else of importance to me: teaching at my church, writing and blogging, co-leading a women’s group, investing in friendships and family members, working on our business, etc. This category experiences a lot of shifting with seasons and changes in life circumstances. And yet, this one is tough because if I’m not careful, it can completely take over the steering wheel in my life, driving in first place, if I don’t keep first things first. These are important things, but not as important as my relationships with God, Steve, and my children.

My days of late have taken on a new shape. But I know this is a season. Some habits will continue, others will tweak a bit, and some will flake away. Life isn’t static. My ability to move throughout my day greatly depends on the age and attitude of the kids in my home and the current season and activities at the forefront.

So, know that your days will look different than mine, and that’s great! You’re different than I am, you have different priorities, goals, and circumstances. But, regardless of our unique set of circumstances, we each make the choice either to rely on SELF or rely on the SPIRIT as our SOURCE.

Bottom line: Consider your Source. Are you relying on yourself or are you relying on God? Are you relying on your expectations to be met or are you trusting God to work through any and every circumstance for your good?

 

Continue reading Part 2: My Typical Day in this series to see how this vision turns into a day-to-day mission of real life living and Part 3: Anchors & Exceptions to see those things that either shift me or keep me grounded.

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Finding God Everyday Now Found Blog

Whew…Yesterday is Gone

Yesterday was one of those ugly, in-the-trenches mom days. Hours spent in the car shuffling around town to all the places we needed to be. A long wait at the doctor’s office with two kids and a baby in tow. Feeling well-covered in all the fluids that babies make (I’ll leave that one there…). Two kids with questions that seemed never to end and a baby who just wouldn’t sleep…at all. And it seemed that everything that possibly could go wrong did.

Some of the thoughts that passed through my head included:

I don’t know if I can make it…

If I hear “Mom!” one more time, I swear….

It would feel so great to throw the remote straight at the TV right now…or punch a wall…

I’m failing…

You know? One of “those” days. Just. Barely. Hanging. On.

Then, this morning, my alarm went off early, as it does on Wednesdays so I can go write. But I was confused. In all the mess of yesterday, I’d completely forgotten that today would be a new day, with new hopes and new happenings. I could get up, grab a cup of coffee and spend some time doing something I love, soaking in grace and the fresh mercies that come with every morning.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

Here’s the problem with those problem days…When we allow ourselves to be defined by our fears, our feelings, our failures, rather than be defined by the Father. The problem isn’t that the difficult days come. We were told that they would.

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12

It’s not strange to have a difficult day where everything feels upended. But what will we do with those days? What truths will emerge from those fiery trials? Here are a few truths I walked away with after yesterday:

My God is incredibly gracious and forgiving. Without Him, I am utterly lost.

My husband is my hero. (Thanks, babe, for listening to me vent, dropping everything to pick up the kids from class, picking up dinner, checking on the baby when he started to cry, handling the moments of discipline the evening brought, tossing in some laundry, and still managing to put up some drywall in our current room under renovation…all after coming home from your own long day at work.)

My kiddos have amazing brains and hearts that want to help. All their questions just reveal the depths of their inquisitiveness and the honor I have of guiding them into wisdom and knowledge.

Showers wash away the ickiness on my skin and mercy washes away the ickiness in my soul. Pretty simple. I just need to choose to grab that shower when I have a free moment and receive the mercy handed to me at every moment.

So, what will your day hold? What has it already been like? And what truths will you carry away from it?

Will you choose to be defined by the fears that attack? Or the feelings that shift? Or the failing moments? Or will you, rather, be defined today by the Father who’s standing right by your side, hands full of forgiveness and grace just for you?

photo via Pixabay

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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.]

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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

You’re a Good Mom (Even When Your Heart Lies)

Portrait

When I was still in the throes of brand-new motherhood, with my first-born just a few months old, I felt defeated.  Too little sleep…too many emotions…too much I didn’t know.

Steve was working ridiculous hours back then, from home.  So, he was there, but he wasn’t.  It was a difficult balance, especially as we lived in a 600-sq-ft guest house while we saved up for a home of our own.

I spent much of my time doubting my motherly abilities.  What right did I have to guide this little life?  Who was I anyway?  I felt like a terrible mom.

And, one day, when I drove several miles with my son not properly locked in his car seat, the supposed validity of these inward thoughts rang through.  What if something had happened??

The day after that less-than-stellar car-seat incident, I was pulling out of the awkwardly shaped driveway, my son, safe and secure in the back.  And the moment was actually quiet.  Quiet enough for God to poke through the dismal direction of my thoughts.  He simply told me His thoughts, “You’re a good mom!”

What?!  Did I just imagine that?  Just seconds before I’d been reprimanding myself for my failures of the day before.  And then, God had the audacity to tell me I’m a good mom?  Well, yes…that’s exactly what He said.  He knew the doubts raging in my heart.  He knew the failure I felt.  And He knew the reminder I needed.

He still knows.  And He still reminds me.  Sometimes the reminders come in those brief, quiet moments when God and I are having a morning chat.  But, usually He tells me directly through the lips of my children.  When my son comes up and squeezes the breath out of me with his strong six-year-old arms, I hear God speaking through his words, “You’re my best momma ever!”  I feel the warmth of God’s embrace, His acceptance when my son gives me one of his candies and says it’s because I’m doing such a good job taking care of him and I deserve a treat.  Those words are sweeter than any candy ever could be.

Your failure yesterday does not define who you are in God’s eyes!  Take a minute and listen for the words He is constantly speaking over you…words of life and encouragement and purpose and freedom.

 

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Where the inspirational meets 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!]

 

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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!”