Conceal, don’t feel: the mantra of an overwhelmed mom.

“Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them see…” -Frozen (Duh.)

I’ve realized lately that this has become my subconscious mantra while caring for my children day in and day out. One is teething and crying, pathetically following me around with his new crawling ability. The other is crying for snacks or gummies or juice or “t.t.” (television) for the 80th time since he has woken up. I love my kids but it’s easy to feel overwhelmed in these moments! In an effort to respond with patience, I have swung the pendulum to the far left and have resorted to simply suppressing. Any frustration, any stress, any anger I feel, I just push it down, take a deep breath, speak quietly, and wipe their tears. Sounds good, right? Wrong.

Yes, my kids needs are met and their mom is not an emotional mess, but I have become an unfeeling shell. Naptime rolls around and I can barely think. So I’ve been sewing. It allows me to escape and avoid any confrontation to deal with the whirlwind of my morning and the issues in my heart. I go to community group and listen to women confessing and working through their sin or pain. When it comes around to me, I don’t have anything to say.

“How are you doing?” they say.

“I don’t really know,” I say.

So many of us are simply trying to keep it together. If we let ourselves feel too much, we may just flip out! (And let’s be honest, this always happens eventually, am I right?) Yes, we may be remaining calm in the face of toddler tantrums, rush hour traffic, financial burdens, or constant annoyances of a spouse, but by what power? In those moments of self-control are we relaying on the love of Christ and peace of God? Or are we relying on our own strength to make it through the day? What role do our emotions play as we live out our days as women of God?

I don’t know the answer to that one (if someone does, let me know!), but I do know that I need to feel. Romans 8:12-17 says that in Christ, I have received a spirit of adoption by which I can cry out “ABBA, FATHER!” I no longer have to be a slave to the anxiety and pressure this world brings. I no longer have to suppress my feelings and turn headlong into self-sufficiency. I can cry out in utter dependance on my savior. And you know what? It’s going to be a lot more messy and raw and my kids/husband/friends may see me turn to puddles…but its worth it. Here’s why:

1. I will enjoy communion with my God and the peace that is offered though the cross as I plead for His mercy and help.

2. My kids will see my need for Christ. I am flawed and broken. I am not a superhero with bags full of fruit snacks. As they see me looking to Jesus and repenting of my sin (to Him and to them!), may they too be drawn to the sweetness of Christ.

3. I will become less guarded to share my struggles with other women. Instead of being an emotionless shell who feels alone, I can draw comfort and truth from my friends who long to see my soul resting in the gospel.

4. God is glorified as I boast in my weakness and allow Him to carry me along by His grace.

Maybe you are having a day where you feel quite “put together.” Remind yourself that it is God who put you together in the first place and sustains your very life. Are you like me, and feeling overwhelmed today? Boast in God’s power to use you despite your weakness! Jesus died on the cross so we would have free, unmerited access to the grace and strength God supplies. So moms, as we serve our families with these provisions of God, we are declaring to the next generation and those around us:

 “My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all the day,
for their number is past my knowledge.
With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come;
I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.
O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come.
Your righteousness, O God,
reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things,
O God, who is like you?
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
you will bring me up again.
You will increase my greatness
and comfort me again.” (Psalm 71)

Look to the finish line, friends. God is able to make all grace abound to you, in all things, at all times so that you can make it through this day and to the last days with His help (2 Cor. 9:8). So in the face of tantrums or weariness or bitterness, look to back to Christ and look forward to the finish line. With tears and trusting, we know God is with us and He is faithful.

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helping my family yearn for the true bread that gives life.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

-Titus 2

Titus 2:3-5 is commonly used to describe how women ought to live and why: “so the word of God is not reviled.” Verses 11-14 expand on the why.

I often feel the works I preform throughout my day are meaningless…diapers, dinner, discipline, picking up the same toys every hour….Scripture tells me to preform my duties as a wife and mother with ZEAL! I am called to live out my days doing these things in love for my family and for my Lord, with my hope rooted in the appearing of Jesus and His glory. This means joyfully pardoning my husband (and holding my tongue) when he leaves his clothes scattered around, remembering how the Lord has greatly pardoned me. It means digging deep into the well of God’s patience during those nighttime feedings. It looks like having a conversation with my husband or playing with Jackson even though the dishes are still dirty, because my rest and peace comes from God, not from how controlled my surroundings are.

As I live this way to make the gospel beautiful and delight in Christ, my family will notice. Hopefully they will be drawn to adore and yearn for Christ! Thus, I get to join in God’s mission of creating a people for His own possession! Lord willing, I am ushering in the kingdom in my tiny apartment! What a high calling! I love how Gloria Furman puts in: “Feast your soul on the bread of life and do whatever you need to do in order to help people yearn for the true bread that gives life!” (Give them Grace).

homemade baby wipe solution

425.xpngPART 1 OF THE STORY: Recently I have become interested in creating cost-effective and more natural products for my home. It all started with Jack getting a nasty diaper rash. After all of my creams weren’t working, a friend told me to try coconut oil. I have never been one for natural remedies, but I tried it. The rash cleared up after a few applications. I was thrilled that it worked so well, but also that the giant jar–only costing a few dollars– could have so many other household/cooking uses. Plus, it only had one ingredient! I knew exactly what I was putting on my baby! This got me thinking, what other cleaning and baby products can I swap out for a safer, cheaper option…

BG4SnapHangPkg210x283PART 2 OF THE STORY: A month ago I did a cloth diapering trial run by borrowing 6 BumGenius diapers from a friend. I was amazed that each time I used a cloth diaper, I was saving 13 cents from the disposable diaper I would have been using. After seeing how easy it was, and with a lot of encouragement from Kevin, we made the switch. We ordered 13 diapers and it has been going great! However, I noticed that using disposable wipes and cloth diapers weren’t working well together– I would have to separate the dirty wipes from the diaper instead of just bundling them all together. I decided to try cloth wipes. I thought this would be really inconvenient, but it was the opposite! Just as easy as the disposable! After doing the math, I saved about 5 cents every time I used a cloth wipe!

This led me to the question: What do you use to make your dry wipes, wet?

A cloth wipe solution! I researched lots of options and tried the cheapest one! It smells amazing! However, there are a lot of recipes you could try that use different essential oils and more organic ingredients. Completely natural or not, it still feels good to know the 4 ingredients that are used to clean my baby’s skin…

photo-43

You will need:

-A spray bottle
-1/4c baby wash
-1/4c baby oil
-1-2c water (Solution can be diluted as much as you want, I chose to fill water to the top of my spray bottle)
-3 drops of tea tree oil (or just a splash if your bottle doesn’t have a dropper)- Tea Tree oil smells great and also has anti-fungal properties.

Stir the solution well! You can either spray directly on a dry wipe, or do the pour over method where you put cloth wipes into a wipe warmer/wipe container and pour the solution over the wipes. I do the spray bottle method so I can wash the wipes with the diapers instead of when every wipe is dirty.

I bought a dozen flannel wipes from Cottonbabies.com (which are what I use primarily because they work so well!), but I also use baby washcloths! You can use cut up t-shirts or make your own wipes out of fabric from the fabric store.

 

I will continue to document my slow journey with natural cleaning and cloth diapering! Its fun learning new things, especially when they save money and provide a safer environment for our families!

when life is flat, it’s testing ground!

Before I had a baby, I pictured stay-at-home-mom-life as a season where I would joyfully nurture my children with undivided attention, meanwhile preparing them nutritious kid-sized lunches cut into little shapes, keeping my home clean, and sitting down with my bible during naptime everyday. I would use my other naptime creatively–discipling a younger girl, for example. Honestly, I didn’t, and still don’t, think this picture was too unattainable. But I’ll be honest… this is nowhere close to what my days look like.

Most days I fail to have a quiet time. I give Jack whatever food that I can find in the fridge that seems semi-nutritious. And most of his naptimes are spent watching a show on netflix. Even when he is awake and playing, I’m checking Instagram as I watch him scoot around. The only thing that is pretty consistent with my former vision of motherhood is the clean house–and that’s just because I’m a psycho.

Most days, my failed expectations of myself make me feel so hopeless that I feel stuck and unable to be with the Lord. I look back on my glory days of Mcdonald’s quiet times where I dug through the Word and books. Even on days when I think, “today is the day I will begin a routine!” I feel like I’m too far gone.

Today was not one of those days. We had to leave Sojourn after serving at the 9am because Jack was having a meltdown. I was determined to have “church” myself during naptime. The time was so refreshing. While I read, I came across this in 1 Peter:

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

All along I have felt like I am in a “flat” season. But in fact, this season is a trial! My walk with the Lord does not look like it used to, and it can not! It must evolve. I have to push though the temptation to have “me” time when my baby is finally sleeping. I have to pray though the same ol’ miniscule needs that I pray everyday. I have to remind myself that the disaster zone of a house can wait til later. I need to sit down and go to my God! And only then, will my faith prove genuine. This is not a “flat” season–this is a TESTING SEASON! And when I come out on the other side, my life will be found to result in praise and glory and honor in knowing my Jesus.

 

On an end note, as I was praying for the Lord to transform my walk with Him in this particular season, I came across this from Steph’s blog:

I know that my time with the Lord is going to continue to evolve. I have to learn to embrace the fact that my time with Him isn’t just part of a checklist that I can use to feel better about myself and that there’s no formula for it. If I take that approach, I’ll always fail. The Lord desires for me to find justification in Him alone. It’s rarely convenient to carve out that time and it will look different in all stages of life, but it’s worth fighting for because as John Piper says, “Knowing God is the key to being happy in God.”

Amen! That’s a good word right there, Steph!

crying out to god when life is flat?

Since I got married and moved to Louisville, my life has been very spiritually flat. No peaks, no valleys…just day-to-day, life. Working, making dinner, making friends, serving at church, changing diapers, feeding Jack. Sometimes marriage is hard. Often I am overjoyed by beautiful moments as mother. Many days I am just so tired I could cry. Life brings with it a whole range of emotions and experiences! But besides my miscarriage last year, nothing has really caused me to cry out to the Lord or cling to the cross. Likewise, nothing has really lit a fire in me to study the Word. Life just feels flat. No drama. No overwhelming trial or sin struggle.

Not like college anyway. My most formative years as a young Christian, were also the most sinful, dramatic, painful, and passionate. My learning curve was rapidly increasing as I dove into theological subjects with joy! My heart was raw and torn down from the effects of my own sin. I saw people meet Jesus. I had endless hours to just BE with Jesus. Those 4 years were like a roller coaster and through it all I was seeking after and clawing my way to Jesus. Recently, I met a friend who has a similar past to mine. Except she is still very much in the midst of trial and pain. Hearing her talk about the season she is in and the things God is painfully showing her, made me jealous for that crazy season that God brought me out of! Weird, huh?!

Because now, I’m just a mom and a wife. And I love it! But my relationship with Jesus has not been the same. It’s not that those things keep me from Jesus. It’s not that the dishes or laundry really distract me. But sometimes, they seem more interesting and fulfilling than sitting down to read or pray. Because if I sat down with Jesus, what would I say to him? That I need help deciding on the dessert to make for community group? That I hope Jackson sleeps til 8:30am? What would I read? Where do I start? What issues can I work through?! What are my sins? Sadly, if I’m honest, I think I sometimes pick fights with Kevin just so I can add a little drama in my life!

So this is my new journey: How to follow Jesus during the steady times of life, when every day looks the same, and when sin struggles are present, but not urgent. How can a mom and a wife have a thriving, desperate, and passionate walk with Jesus, full of growth and repentance? This is what I want to find out! Because I am just not convinced that life from this point on consists of coasting and character building. But I’m also not convinced that to really know Jesus deeply one needs to be surrounded by drama and sin! (and I would hope the drama/sin levels would decrease as one grows in godliness!)

Any thoughts from women who have gone before me on this journey would be much appreciated!

for when i fall short of being a good mom…

Lately I have been feeling guilty when I get frustrated or impatient with Jackson. When he is spitting and chatting at community group and it’s distracting, I am apologetic. When I am at lunch with a friend and he is crying, I am inconvenienced. When he has a blow-out diaper at the mall, I am frazzled. When he is screaming for “no reason” while my show is on t.v. I am annoyed. In the moment I allow my selfishness to reign over me, affirming me, “you deserve to watch a t.v. show in peace,” or something of the sort. But then Satan’s “one-two-punch” sets in and I am overcome with guilt and shame over my sin. I know that God has given me Jackson to care for in love, but often I fall short. Today I read this post from the GirlTalk blog and was reminded that I need God’s grace to love Jackson and on my own, I will only love myself. Here is my favorite part of the article:

We aren’t perfect mothers and we don’t pretend to be.

But that doesn’t mean we are content with imperfect. The mothering bar we’re aiming for is high. It has been set in place by God himself: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt. 5:48).

As moms we must be humble and admit we fall short of the bar of mothering perfection. Very. Far. Short. We are not always patient with our children. We are not always faithful to teach and train and discipline. We give in to selfishness, anger, laziness, and grumbling.

That’s why a mother who is grounded in the gospel looks two ways. She really does have eyes in the back of her head.

A gospel-centered mom first looks back to her justification in Christ. She remembers that all of her mothering sins and shortcomings have been nailed to the cross of Jesus Christ. That he became sin for her that in him she might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).

But she doesn’t stop there. The gospel-centered mom looks forward too. She strives with the Holy Spirit’s power that works within her to be perfect as her heavenly Father is perfect. She stands on the ground of forgiveness and accesses grace through God’s Word, through counsel from godly women, and through prayer, to grow as a mom. To be more patient, more joyful, more consistent, more loving. To be perfect.

Moms need grace. We need grace to admit that we are weak, and grace to not settle into those weaknesses. We need grace that frees and forgives and grace that gives power to grow.

Thankful for this word today!

Life Map & Saltiness.

Recently I revamped my Life Map to change and align my priorities in such a way that glorifies God and leads me into more holiness. I guess I could explain the Life Map in more detail, but that is not the point of my post…

Obviously my first priority should be “Christian.” As I sat down tonight, I pulled out my Life Map to see how I am doing. Here is my vision statement for ten years from now and the goals I have set for this year as I pursue that trajectory:

(In year 2022) I am a woman whose value is in Christ alone. I have surrendered my whole life and all my time talent and resources to the Lord. As a result, my priorities are Godly. The bible transforms my heart, both by reading my bible daily and studying theology. My life and understanding of God are evidently transforming in the way that I love and extend grace to my family, the church, and the lost.

 2013 Goals:

  1. Spend time reading my bible/ journaling everyday
  2. Read 12 books by 2014
  3. Blog 1 time a week

I was convicted about blogging. I know it seems silly, but my blog life really does reflect my growth with Jesus and the scriptures. As I process things, it helps to write them out for an audience so I can hold myself to a standard of theological accuracy and clear teaching. Just because I have a baby does not mean my blog needs to turn into a scrapbook–not that there is anything wrong with having blog posts about children, or even a whole blog site devoted to them!–this is just not the purpose of my blog on a large scale. So I figure I will ease myself back into a writing. I don’t have anything impressive to say, but Jesus has been good to me in giving me small nuggets of truth to sustain my heart…So I need to write about it! Amen?

This first month as a mama has been hard. Many days I don’t leave my apartment or open the blinds. I sometimes go a whole day without talking. I have felt lonely. I have also felt inadequate to be a mom who uses her life to advance the kingdom. How am I supposed to be the “salt of the earth” as a young mom, who knows few people in this city, and who doesn’t even have the motivation to leave the house?

Matt Chandler explains Matthew 5:13-16 well in his recent sermon “Light of the World.” Basically, he taught me that just as salt is a preserving agent in cooking, our function is also to be a preserving agent on earth. We become an agent of change and redemption for God’s purposes on earth right where we are. For me, I am now a mom and a wife, so breastfeeding, changing, and holding a crying baby all day is where “salt” takes place for me. What does this mean? No matter where we are in life, we can pursue saltiness as we:
1. Walk in integrity
2. Are a faithful witness to Jesus and his gospel
3. Refuse to enter into what is sinful

It is easy for me to spend all day with the t.v. on or to become frustrated with Jackson as he cries. Obviously none of us are batting 1000 in these three areas that make up “saltiness.” So how do we move forward? As we keep our eyes on the grace of God through the sacrifice of his Son on the cross, we will be led to a sobering seriousness about sin and a desire to be made into his holy image. It is this kind of seriousness that marks our life with confession and repentance.

Regardless of how I feel about my performance, I can rest knowing that God is using me as an agent of change and redemption as he preserves and advances his kingdom on earth. And as I pursue “saltiness” through regular confession of sin to other sisters and repentance, I am also a light for the world–revealing that there is something greater than my small world worth living for.

Give Them Grace: Introduction

 

**Preface: Everything I write on this topic is simply restating the information. I am still figuring out what I think about this topic and more specifically, I don’t have kids. Feel free to post your reactions/questions/ or personal experiences!

 

 

What makes our parenting distinctly “Christian?”

We are not perfect parents and we don’t have perfect kids. But to remedy our mutual imperfections isn’t more law, even if it seems to produce tidy or polite children. Kids will use the law the same way we do—ignore it, bend it, or obey it outwardly from a selfish heart. This is for certain: they won’t obey it from the heart. They can’t. This is why Jesus had to die. Christian children and their parents don’t need to learn to be “nice”. They need death and resurrection and a Savior who has done before them as a faithful high priest, who lived and died perfectly in their place. They need a savior who extends the offer of complete forgiveness, complete righteousness, and indissolvable adoption to all who believe.

The funny thing is, we all know the gospel and share it with girls we disciple or non-Christian co-workers. On our blogs or in triad, we share our war against trusting in our own goodness. But something happens when we begin training miniature unbelievers in our own home. We forget the deadliness of relying on our own righteousness and we teach that the Bible and Christianity is all about their behavior and how because of it, “God is happy” or “God is sad” on any given day. And we wonder why there are so many nominal Christians in the world who base their standing with God on their moral life choices and a prayer they prayed once at Sunday school when they asked Jesus into their heart. Or we wonder why so many good meaning parents raise children who end up denying the faith or rebelling as soon as they can. I mean, who would want to deny himself, lay down his life, or suffer for something as boring as “Say your sorry,” or “be nice,” or “don’t hang around them.” Is that the message that has both empowered and caused persecution to the church for the past 2000 years?

The grace that has been lavished on us through Christ ought to make our parenting or teaching radically different. At the deepest level of what we do, we should hear the heartbeat of a loving, grace-giving father who freely adopts rebels and transforms them into loving sons and daughters (and that includes us adults who don’t have it all together either). We can’t save ourselves any more than we can save our children. And that is why we need to share the gospel, the message of salvation. God will use us as we give grace to our children, but salvation is entirely from the faithful, soul-transforming, blood-covering, One.

 

Sounds like the pendulum is swinging in the opposite direction? You may be asking “So….what about my kid’s obedience?”Answer: I don’t know. TBA!

New Series: Give them Grace.

I am going to begin a second running series tracking my thoughts on the book, “Give Them Grace: Dazzling your kids with the Love of Jesus” by Elyse Fitzpatrick. I picked this book up at Fitzpatrick’s women’s conference hosted by Sojourn in August. I would say that it is by far the most controversial books I’ve ever read and when I say controversial, I don’t mean in our christian circles but in our hearts.

Of course we would never say that we want our kids (or the kids we teach) to grow up to be little moralists. We would never claim that they will go to heaven because of what they do. The problem of moralism, or “being a good person,” is the very pattern that enslaves us and is so hard for us to undo. It is the very problem that evangelical churches preach AGAINST every Sunday: nothing you do will please God or make you right with him.

So if we want to keep our children from a life of works-based righteousness and trying to earn the approval of God and if we want them to fully love and trust the God of grace through the cross of Christ, how are we supposed to discipline, rebuke, and train? How are we supposed to tell our child “stop” or “listen” when they do not understand the very gospel that makes them free to obey? Do we tell our unregenerate children that God is pleased with them because they shared a crayon or bowed their head for a mealtime prayer, when the bible clearly says that anyone who does not trust in the finished work of Christ, but rather submits to the burden of the law will be killed by it; a child of wrath in the eyes of God?

But are we supposed to just let our children do whatever they want, disrespect authority, and be hurtful to others until they become a believer? Don’t we still want our children to be “good?”

Yikes is right.

This book has been confusing, convicting, challenging, and beautiful. It impresses a heavy weight on the call to parenting and ensures that every moment is an opportunity to lead your child to legalism or to the gospel of grace and thus, the feet of Jesus. Fitzpatrick has been undoing much of what I thought it meant to “train a child.” Hopefully, as I stumble through this book, my thoughts and questions can be insightful, a blessing, and a springboard to conversation. Stay tuned!