What You Do Is Not Small

What You Do Is Not Small

An open letter to stay-at-home (and all) moms:

I know there are times you feel like your skills could be better used elsewhere, but What You Do Is Not Small.

I know you may feel invisible some days, lost in piles of laundry and mountains of dishes, in the stacks of homework and bills, and in the bedtime routines that flow seamlessly into early morning wake up calls. But your efforts are seen by the One who created you.

YOU are seen by the One who created you.

I know you sometimes see the success of others and feel fear that you’re missing out- that what you’re doing is unimpressive and falling short of your capabilities. But your impact within your own four walls Is Not Small.

I know there are a thousand unnoticed tasks a day that are accomplished when no one else is looking. I know that no one you are serving really knows the extent of what you do in your many, many waking hours. I know that you often give more than you get.

I know there won’t be any awards won in this life for getting your kids to school on time, or wrapping your arms around your crying child. But the reward waiting for you at the end of this life is anything

But Small.

– • – • – • –

As some of you may or may not know, aside from being a stay-at-home mom and blogger, I am also a nurse.

When deciding what life was to be like after Baby #2’s arrival, I was informed that part-time wasn’t an option within my company. In my particular position I was no stranger to 40 to 50+ hour work weeks at times with a great deal of travel during my days. The relationships I was able to build with my patients were rewarding but I knew the relationships I could be building with my children were where my purpose lied. With much prayer and the support of my (really awesome) husband, I made the leap into SAHM-hood.

In many ways it’s been one of the most rewarding years of my life. I’ve seen my children grow and had so many great experiences with them that we wouldn’t have shared if I were spending my long days away from our home. There are so many benefits to being in my position for which I’m deeply grateful, but in my quiet moments there have been times I’ve wondered if my other skills were being wasted.

If you have ever wondered the same, know this: life is made up of seasons.

There was a season of my life I struggled to put myself through nursing school as a single mom. During that time I learned that I am capable of more than I ever dreamed. (As are you.)

There was a season I worked as a nurse when I learned I’m tougher (and softer) than I ever seemed.

And now I am living in a season when I am able to focus fully on my family and I am learning that being a strong woman is not one dimensional. Strength comes in so many different forms for different people.

If you are feeling frustrated or run down on this Monday, Mama, know this- you are not alone! You are part of a sisterhood of women who are living this experience right along with you, and we see you. Your hard work may be lost on some, but it isn’t lost to others like you. So “let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” (Hebrews‬ ‭12:2 NLT)

You got this.

“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭127:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Minivan Rebel

Minivan Rebel

“Well, I can add changing a diaper in a princess castle to my list of things I never thought I’d do,” I thought.

I looked around at the flower-clad walls and down the purple tunnel. I looked behind me at the demolished bag of chips my toddler had stolen from the pantry, with its thin plastic folded and wrinkled every which way. I mentally accepted all these things as normal and thought briefly about scanning the classifieds for a nice used minivan. “I will not do the stick figure family stickers on the back though….. or maybe. Whatever, I won’t rule it out,” I thought.

There are a lot of normal things in my life these days I never thought I’d find myself doing.

I never thought I’d go from listening to angry hard rock bands to having K-Love as my go-to commute music (all whilst transporting sticky-fingered, Hot Wheel throwing sleep stealers from A to B.)

I couldn’t have imagined laying in bed on Saturday night (at a reasonable hour no less) looking forward to church service the next morning (and even driving almost 40 minutes to get there.)

And I certainly never thought I would be writing a faith based blog.

But here I am. And in some remote corner of the world I imagine pigs are probably coming in for a landing.

So today, know this: God changes things. He changes the hearts of His people.

I fully admire people who were raised in the faith and never strayed from it but I openly admit that I am not one of those people. Although I was raised with a strong religious background, I’ve always had a restless and rebellious spirit. I believed in God but didn’t feel like I could relate to the life of Jesus. That is, until I came across this one single verse:

“He was counted among the rebels.” -Isaiah 53:12

We always think of Jesus as being perfect- and he was– but have you ever stopped to realize that he was so radically different from the norm of his day that he was actually considered a “rebel”?

Needless to say, the first time I came across this line, I connected. If Jesus was a rebel, he could know and understand my own rebellious heart. If he could navigate life as an outsider, he could teach me how to walk the less traveled path I’m meant to walk.

And if Jesus was a rebel, he could show me how to be rebellious in a different way.

These days my idea of rebellion comes largely in the form of saying no to friends, situations, and world views that are widely accepted but are misaligned with God’s truth. Rebellion doesn’t always have to be loud and intrusive. Sometimes rebellion looks like teaching Sunday school, or packing your husband’s lunch. Sometimes it’s zipping the lip instead of sharing the details of someone else’s personal business, or offering to help even when it doesn’t fit into your schedule. Sometimes rebellion looks like scattered Lego’s, purple princess castles, and a quiet life- lived well in the light of God’s grace.

Be rebels, my friends. ❤️

Changed

Changed

My prayer for today:

Lord, I want to be changed! I don’t want to live like this world lives, but I want to live like Jesus did. I invite your Holy Spirit to dwell and work within me, and change me from the inside out.

Please don’t let me cave into the pressure to be a woman of this world. Don’t allow me to think it’s OK to listen to certain music, watch certain movies, use inappropriate language, or develop habits that do not align with the principles you call us to live out just because that’s what others are doing.

Help me to be encouraged by the friends I trust who are also seeking to live a life led by you, but ultimately, let your words be the words I live by, and not the words of others.

I don’t want to look, walk, talk, or act like the norm in this world. I want my words and actions to set me apart and point the world to You.

I love you and thank you for this beautiful life! Amen.

Inspired by the song Different by Micah Tyler

Even Jesus Took Naps

Even Jesus Took Naps

Jesus healed, traveled, served, and performed countless miracles in his lifetime- and he still took naps.

Grab your favorite blanket and that cute sleep mask you’ve never taken out of the package because you know I’m going somewhere with this….

The passage from Mark chapter 4 (verses 35-41) tells the story of Jesus stepping away from the crowds and seeking rest in the back of a boat, even in the the midst of a raging storm. It brought a very realistic image of motherhood to mind:

It’s after 3 P.M. Loud and overwhelming ‘To Do’s” loom in the evening busyness of my household. Ready or not, the after work and school hours have begun, bringing on more demands than downtime. My husband asks where to find an obscure item which has faded from the landscape of a cluttered countertop over time, and has suddenly regained an urgent purpose. My 7.5-year-old son finds new sources of energy just as mine seem to be dwindling. I end up chasing him from room to room reminding him that socks don’t belong in couch cushions, and the dog needs to be fed. My 11 month daughter crawls and climbs the terrain of the living room and squeals for my full attention. Dinner needs cooked, pajamas need tiny people sprawled out within them, and after long days, a mama’s mind needs to be quieted.

Now. What happens in the midst of all this?

Is my response to,

A. Stand up, and use my calm presence to quiet the storm, or

B. Panic, lose my peace, and let my outward expression be determined by my inward unresolved struggle and weariness?

I’d love to tell you that I’m an option A mom, but I don’t always have it so together. As it turns out though, I’d be in good company because the disciples didn’t have it all together that day on the boat with Jesus either. When the storm threatened to sink their boat it says,

“Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

‭‭Mark‬ ‭4:38‬ ‭NLT‬‬

It sounds like they had the tendency to stress, just like this mama does.

But not Jesus. In the raging storm he calmly stood and dealt.

“When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”

‭‭Mark‬ ‭4:39-41‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Now where do you think Jesus found that incredible calm? He was rested. His faith was in God, his unfailing Father, with whom he’d built a strong relationship. And so, even in the face of looming disaster and other priorities on the shore that begged for his time and attention, he protected his time alone and his time spent in prayer. Though it doesn’t specify, I can just imagine Jesus praying as he laid down, falling asleep while talking to his Father in Heaven. The Bible gives examples of his time away:

“Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” – Mark 1:35 NLT

“But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.” -Luke 5:16

So friends I have to ask- how often are we withdrawing to the wilderness?

Whether that wilderness is a Pinterest-worthy nook in your home complete with a plush designer chair and a built-in bookcase, or it’s the driver seat of your car because your kids finally fell asleep in the back, it’s calling for you. And it also requires something of you- the ability to say “wait” or even to say “no” altogether to certain things.

See, it wasn’t that Jesus had free time on his hands- but that he did what he had to in order to protect his time alone to rest and to protect his time in prayer, even when it meant stepping away from other things temporarily. (Kind of like trying to sneak off to use the bathroom even though tiny fingers will undoubtedly slither under the door within seconds. Hey, it’s a priority- you’ve just gotta do it.)

Jesus fully saw the need for his service out in the world, but he also recognized his inner need to recharge and speak with God.

Now here’s where I stumbled all over myself when I started considering this whole thing:

How important do I think I am that I can’t (won’t) take time out for God, when even JESUS HIMSELF made it a priority?

Do I not have faith that He will help to accomplish what’s asked of me in His perfect timing?

(If you’re slipping on your sunnies and sliding down in your seat right now, I’m going to guess you can relate to the grounds for those questions.)

As moms and wives it seems as if we are often the most in demand people on the planet. There is constantly someone calling our names, or something needing done that others think only we can do.

“Mom, I need toilet paper!”

“Honey, there’s toothpaste on the ceiling.”

“Mom, sissy’s diaper smells terrible!”

Oh, the demands of the job. How easily, then, can we relate to Jesus? He was highly sought after and often surrounded by great crowds of people seeking his attention. (In my mind, the equivalent must have been like having thousands of kids…. 😳) And yet, he understood the importance of rest and of his own personal time with the Lord.

I’m not suggesting we abandon our responsibilities to squander our time. Instead, let us prioritize where we will carefully place our attention before our attention is stolen away. We live out crazed days and we need rest, too. The best rest, I find, always comes after I give God some prime real estate in my daily schedule. If I want to be able to take a nap in my boat, I’ve got to make sure I’ve spent time in prayer in the wilderness first. That’s when I find the strength to remain calm in the storm. That’s when the sweet, restful moments come and are more fulfilling than ever before.

What’s your “wilderness” like? Where do you run off to when you need to spend quality time with God?

Keep Your Eye On The Couch Pillows

Keep Your Eye On The Couch Pillows

“DON’T EAT THE CARPET!” I yelled, as I dove over the kitchen chair barrier I’d created to keep my now-crawling daughter within the confines of the living room.

I pried her mouth open as she flailed her extremities in every direction. In one fluid swipe my glasses were removed from my face and landed just out of reach. “Blind your opponent- impressive strategy for a 10-month-old,” I thought. Nevertheless I was able to reach into her tiny little chipmunk-like cheeks between blows and retrieve the stray strand of carpet.

Our living room is currently its own special work of art. With an open concept floorplan there is little to keep my curious baby herded within the pasture of our living space. So, from necessity, I’ve designed a very chic arrangement consisting of a side-lying kitchen chair, furniture pressed up against each other, a laundry basket filled with hopeless, matchless socks, and a portable playpen.

I’m not sure why I haven’t been contacted by Better Homes and Gardens yet, really. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Now while much of our home boasts newer flooring thanks to the previous owner, our living room carpet has certainly seen its better days in the decades since our house was built. Charlie, our lazy yellow lab, must agree. Wherever he decides to lay, he paws at the carpet to make for a softer napping spot, and occasionally strands from the carpet are pulled loose. My eagle-eyed munchkin sometimes finds these small pieces before I do.

Feeling the frustration, I thought, “I’ll get ahead of this.” I grabbed a pair of scissors and went around extracting any little strand that looked as if it may come loose at Charlie’s pawing. Then, feeling accomplished, I returned my daughter to her designer play area.

A short time later I made a quick trip to the next room, only to return to find her squirreling away couch pillow stuffings in her tiny baby cheeks.

(Friends. Remember me in your prayers.)

As moms we know that we can’t take our eyes off of these sweet little sneaks for a second. The moment we start patting ourselves on the back for conquering the trials of one milestone, they’re already onto the next. In the midst of trying to keep up with my daughter this week, I came across a verse that pointedly reminded me that we can’t take our eyes off of our enemy either:

“When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.” -Luke 4:13 NLT

That’s right- He. Never. Stops.

Even as we celebrate the moments when we find the strength to walk away from a carefully crafted temptation, or choose differently rather than going back to a bad habit, he is already scouting out the next opportunity to knock us down. He is constantly working- so that means that we need to be, too.

In light of this, I’ve got to ask you what I’ve been asking myself this week: How can you be more persistent? 

Is it waking up earlier to get into the Word before your day sets your priorities for you? Grabbing your Bible or devotional as soon as the kids go to sleep instead of the remote? Deleting an app off your phone that- let’s be real here- the enemy is using to distract you from devoting more time to God?

The bottom line is this: our purpose in life is to love God and love people. It’s so simple, but the enemy is persistent and effective in making it complicated. We have to hold onto the truths of the Word in order to be prepared for every opportunity to love, so that there is less opportunity for the enemy to take the lead.

Life Comes With Instructions

Life Comes With Instructions

I was raised on a firm principle: instructions are for sissies.

At least that much was implied on one occasion I recall as a girl when I received a laugh in return after trying to hand my dad the manual for whatever it was he’d just bought. I’ve even found myself repeating that notion through the years, and in case you’re wondering how well that’s worked for me, allow me to share a Proverb my grandma likes to use from time to time:

“Pride cometh before the fall.”

Grandma raised five boys. Grandma knows.

But as much as I’d like to jump right into things, I like having instructions. I NEED instructions. And you know who gives the best instructions of all? Our all knowing, more than gracious God. Sometimes I can just imagine him up there shaking his head at me in dismay when he sees me trying to do things my own way, and he probably gets a good laugh or two. But none the less when I go looking for wisdom it’s always right there in the word.

That’s why I love the scripture that I shared yesterday so much:

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” -Isaiah 26:3

First and foremost, I love this because God is giving us an awesome gift- I mean who doesn’t like getting gifts? And it’s GOOD. He is not giving us contentment or complacency, but his own perfect peace. The peace he promises is not some distant fairytale that we have to go chasing, or something we have to earn and figure out on our own- it’s very real and it is attainable! And not only is it available to us, but right there in the very same verse we are given instructions and told exactly how to attain it- through trusting God and fixing our thoughts on him.

Now that’s great and all.. but what do we do with that? How do we turn that into action and start experiencing his perfect peace?

Have you ever caught your thoughts spiraling? Maybe going from “I wonder if I unplugged my straightener….” to “WHAT IF I COME HOME TO A PILE OF ASH AND MY POOR FUR CHILDREN ARE STUCK IN THE HOUSE WHEN IT GOES AND I’M ONLY LEFT WITH THE CLOTHES ON MY BACK” in about 0.2 seconds? 🙋🏻 There is a simple- not easy, but simple- strategy I’ve learned to stop this in its tracks. When you catch yourself fixated on unproductive, ungodly thoughts, stop and turn your runaway thoughts into gratitude. You see, being grateful has this magical power that turns our fears into focus on God, and grants us that perfect peace that he is trying to give to us.

Instructions: they can turn a nice sentiment into a powerful testament. And thankfully for us, our God has given us the best instruction manual ever created.