Unapologetic About Your Occupation

I still remember the reprimand I received from my public speaking professor while I was in college. We were all discussing something and I made the comment “she’s just a stay at home mom”. My professor then proceeded to tell me she spent 12 years at home while her kids were younger and it was the hardest job she’s ever had. Even with this revelation, I still wasn’t entirely convinced.

Fast forward a few more years, and I found myself pregnant during my Senior year of college. I was able to graduate before my first born made his appearance, but I suddenly faced a dilemma. Do I continue to pursue teaching jobs, as I had already started turning in resumes, or do I stay home with the baby once I graduate college. To say this was an easy decision would be the biggest lie of the century.

I looked forward to teaching. I found great pride in the fact that I was the first one in my family to graduate college straight after high school. I did, however; have many mentors who told me they either a) loved staying home when their kids were little or b) wish they could go back and do it again to stay home with their children when they had been younger. It should be noted that my husband and I also talked about this as well and his opinions do factor into my thought process.

So, I decided to stay home with our baby. I am so grateful to have been home with all our children thus far. I have to admit though, that it wasn’t easy in the beginning. I felt shame for saying I was a stay at home mom when asked by others what I was currently doing. Usually the question that directly followed my stay at home mom revelation was “so when will you start teaching?” I have also received the occasional comments about my college education going to waste because I stay home. These conversations used to leave me embarrassed and ashamed.

That began to change when I changed my viewpoint on staying home. I wasn’t doing “lesser work”. Every occupation or position you occupy in life is to be fulfilled to the glory of God. Yes, there are days that feel absolutely mundane. But that is true of any job. In any occupation, you will have tasks that seem mundane and tedious.

We are told “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”. We don’t compartmentalize our relationship with God. I don’t live parts of my life to give Him glory, and live other parts of my for my own or others glory. If homemaking is my current calling, then this is where I am to glorify God. And any task that is aimed at God’s glory can never be a lesser task.

Another thing that has helped me to change my outlook is the realization that my children are all I will (God willing) leave in this world. Any job occupation I will ever have will be filled in my absence, but there is no one else who will ever be my kids mother. That burden and blessing takes this calling to new levels of importance.

Don’t ever feel your tasks are unimportant, whether it be that of a SAHM or a job occupation you are ashamed of. Anything done with eternal significance simply cannot be unimportant. You decide what is important with how you decide to live your life. We all live most of our lives in the little moments. I’ll leave you with a quote from Paul David Tripp: “Our lives are comprised of 10,000 little moments and maybe only 3 or 4 dramatic ones”.

Guys, be confident in your little moments as well as the big.

I Surrender All, but…

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the way many Christians are handling the current situations going on in the world. I don’t pretend to handle every situation correctly. I also am not opposed to being corrected if I have been found standing on the wrong side of something.

That being said, I have stayed awake at night trying to figure out our stance as Christians during this current time. Not only because I’ve been confused as to how to stand; but also because I don’t like all the division, anger, and hatred I’ve seen.

Christians are told to not be a stumbling block for others, and we have no problem avoiding certain foods, places, or even attire to help others. Just do not ask us to wear masks to make others feel more comfortable. Because then our rights are being infringed upon.

While I’m discussing rights, we are not more American than we are Christian. Yes, America is a great country…the best in the world. I do believe there is a place and time for fighting for rights as Americans…but you cannot pass them as Gospel truths or the Christian motive. Even with standing up for American livelihood, there is a correct way to do it. I don’t believe getting angry on Facebook and arguing with others is the way to bring about change.

To me: this argument just further shows our entitlement as Americans. We EXPECT a certain level of comfort, and when that is taken away from us, it certainly can’t be of God, right? I’m going to say wrong.

I think about missionaries who literally surrender everything, all their rights as an American or even their distinct person to go to another country and find out how to serve and to adapt to the area of the world they would be called to. They do not go to the other countries talking about how they know the way life should be done, like in America. They don’t go preaching about all the things they have surrendered in order to go teacher the Gospel to others. No, they go to preach Christ and Christ alone. Certainly God wouldn’t call someone to do that, right? Wrong again. Many souls have been saved because of self-less persons not counting their life more important than others.

I don’t pretend to know why this is happening, but what if God wants to strip of us pride in anything in this life except for Him? I sometimes wonder, if the reaction to this pandemic is any indication of how we handle the end times, how many people we are truly going to lead to God by our love and truth. Are we going to sit on Facebook and talk about how the end times won’t effect our kids at “this certain school” because we have faith in God? Or how America will still fare better because I have rights as an American and I have faith in God.

THIS is our mission field right now. THIS world is not our home. Our job (even in America) is still to share Christ and Christ alone.

Excerpt from “I Surrender All”
All to Jesus I Surrender
Humbly at His feet I bow
Worldly pleasures all forsaken
Take me, Jesus, take me now

I surrender all
I surrender all
All to thee my blessed Savior
I surrender all


Positive Affirmations

I’m a lover of written words. I believe words hold power. God created the world simply by speaking. We do not have the power to speak things into existence, but we are able to speak words that either tear down or lift up. (Proverbs 15:1)

Some of my kids are at the age where they have moments of insecurities. So we have begun to speak positive affirmations together. They go a little something like this:

“I am who God says I am.
He considered it good when he made me with…
(Here we insert whatever qualities are specific to that child. If they are struggling with a specific quality I make sure to put it in.)
God made me just like this, to show His glory.”

I know that’s often not the typical “parent positive affirmation” conversation we see going around social media. It is important to fix our affirmations on something or someone that is immovable. If someone treats one of my children bad or judges them unfairly, they will (hopefully) remember they were created to show God’s glory. It doesn’t matter how that person views them, because that’s not who they’re living for. If my children go through time periods of doubting their worth, I hope they remember that God delighted in making them just like they are. That they never have to strive for perfection because Jesus perfectly covered any of their shortcomings by his life, death, and resurrection.

I repeatedly tell my children that they are smart. They are strong. They are brave. I know they don’t always feel this. (I have one kid that is deathly afraid of heights just like me). I hope over time they learn to believe this. It’s not because I know their abilities will always be unfailing, but because I know they have access to the One who never will.

When Christmas Isn’t Merry

I’ve seen a lot of people dealing with loss this Christmas season. We tend to want to shy away from or dread Christmas season when dealing with loss. (I know I do). We have an image in our minds of Christmas being lights, laughter, food, and fun. If we have years, and let’s face it, we probably all will at some point in life…our Christmas experience is lacking.

I think when we are faced with these feelings, we would do well to remember the real Christmas story. Several homes are adorned with little nativity sets. They look at baby Jesus and ponder His miraculous birth. We should feel joy when we are thinking of the birth of baby Jesus.

But His welcome into the world wasn’t what we would consider comfortable, much less beautiful. He was born in a stable, welcomed by animals. Can you imagine the smell? It’s a far cry from the sanitized hospital rooms we’re used to, but it wasn’t just his birth that was less than ideal.

Philippians 2:6-8 “who, though he was in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

While Jesus was here on this earth; He was ridiculed, beaten, mocked, rejected, and crucified. He was acquainted with sadness and loss while here in the form of a human. Here in this juxtaposition do we see a bigger picture of Christmas.

So what do we do with this? We remember the Christmas story. We don’t stop there. Jesus wasn’t just a baby who was born. He wasn’t just a man who was beaten and crucified. He also rose again on the 3rd day and is now seated by God in eternity.

Jesus was a baby born in a manger, but He will come back as a ruler. He will put an end to all death and sadness. If your joy and hope is found in Jesus, you can truly have joy even during the times of loss. In the midst of deep heartache and loss, we can echo what Paul says in Philippians knowing in Christ we have all we need.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, but more so I hope you have the joy of knowing Christ in the midst of where ever life may find you this year.

A Surrendered Mom

I follow a lot of exercise accounts. I love to exercise. I love moving. Exercise isn’t about making myself a “happy mom” or a “fit mom”, it’s a way of surrendering myself because I know that I am human.

While I do thoroughly enjoy exercise, that’s not why I prioritize it. I prioritize it because I know my body has limitations. I know exercising has health benefits that I want as I grow older.

Many of us want to say we make time for things (like exercise) so our kids will see a “happy mom”. I would argue what our kids need to see most is a surrendered mom.

The thing is, happiness comes and goes. Do we give our kids less of a mom in the moments we don’t feel happy? Do the children of the single moms or moms with no family around deserve a “less than” mom because she hasn’t found her time to make herself happy?

Don’t get me wrong. It is important to take care of yourself, even as a mom, maybe especially. But we can’t look for those weekends or hours to fill us enough to be a good mom.

A surrendered mom knows life will change daily, some times hourly. A surrendered mom can still find joy in a day, even though she ends that day in tears. A surrendered mom can give her kid 10 more minutes (even when it’s the last thing she wants to do) because she knows her kids won’t keep. These are characteristics kids need to see. They need to see a mom who can be long suffering, selfless, and dependable in middle of the hard days. They’ll have hard days, probably seasons, too.

If we are to “fill our cup” in order to “mom well” we must draw from a source that never runs dry.

We can mourn and be comforted like the Psalmist in Psalm 42 who said “Why are you cast down, oh my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation”.

Thanksgiving and Unmet Expectations

What do we do with unmet expectations?

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Many people will spend time surrounded by loved ones, but many won’t. There will be people tackling unmet expectations during the holidays. Whether it be loss, broken family, or not having the monetary means to have the kind of Thanksgiving they want to have.

Unmet expectations can cause us to feel inadequate. They can make us feel inferior. They can cause us to obsess over our sufferings or hardships. Don’t misunderstand me, of course you’re going to have feelings. But when those feelings threaten to overtake us, we can remind ourselves of truth.

There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18)

Riches here don’t matter, Heaven is the only place where riches never disappear. (Matthew 16)

The losses we feel in this world will all pass away. We will some day be in a place of no more suffering or tears. (Revelation 21)

I pray you’re able to enjoy Thanksgiving this year. If not, just remember this is the “pre-life”. This life is a vapor (the good and the bad). With Christ, the life to come will give us a constant reason for giving thanks. In the meantime to our ultimate comforter, Christ.

Yours truly at a Christmas concert when I was a kid

I’ve looked at this picture I found several times today. What would I say to this girl, as a now 34 year old?

Hey there pretty little self. 😉 I look at this picture and think about all the life that has occurred between then and now. A lot of your preconceived ideas of what would make you strong turned out to be wrong, but somehow in those faults you found even more strength.

Things I thought would make me a strong woman:

  • Working/studying as many hours as I could fit into the day.
  • Sleeping 5 hours a night.
  • Making sure people only ever saw me at my best.
  • Getting all the accolades and awards.
  • Confidently depending on myself alone.
  • Obsessing over ever aspect of my life.

Things that have actually made me a strong woman:

  • Prioritizing life outside of work.
  • Regularly making time for rest.
  • Being someone who tries to walk in truth and integrity, regardless of popularity. (And owning my failures when I do it wrong).
  • Giving up myself for the betterment of others.
  • Being confident standing alone, but knowing I am not weak for wanting or depending on others. (Looking at you hubs).
  • Reminding myself of the bigger pictures of life and to not let the nonessential things dictate my mood or actions.

Life’s a trip, man. 34 years and it humbles me and makes me grateful regularly.

Discretion

“He never labored so hard to learn a language as he did to hold his tongue, and it affected him for life. The habit of reticence-of talking without meaning-is never effaced.” -Henry Adams

Social media is hard. We have a constant stream into people’s daily lives. We have access to people like never before. I’ve literally had to delete social media from my phone so many times I’ve lost count.

One reason I delete it is because of the obsessive quality of it. How many times a day do I pick up my phone out of habit, realizing I’m not looking for anything specific? (Too many to count). How much more often do I feel discontent with the material possessions I own when my ads are constantly being catered to things I prefer? (I’m ashamed to admit).

Another reason I gave to take myself away from it occasionally is because I find I don’t like knowing everything persons say or do all day. I can’t even tell you how many people I’ve had certain feelings towards, to only have those feelings confirmed or denied by things they said or did on social media. (I’m sure people have said the same about me). Discretion is something I’ve been trying (sometimes unsuccessfully) to practice on social media myself. It’s not easy, so when I struggle I have to practice discipline to take myself away from it.

I have always judged people by their actions…and I’m talking actions when no one else is around. How do you treat people who can do nothing for you? How do you act when there is no group of people to put a show on for? What takes up most of your thoughts and conversations? I always prefer people in small groups as a way to get to know them better on a real scale.

Not everything (and actually most) deserves a response. You are responsible for your actions no matter how you feel. (This is something I tell my kids as soon as they can understand the thought). People’s lives generally play out in the way they are any way. (We don’t need to be the sounding judge).

I enjoy good, thought provoking conversations, debates, and arguments. I legitimately have no problem getting into debates with persons on most any subject. (I also like to think I’ve gotten better at admitting when I’ve been had). Husband, we don’t need your input. 😜

We are the first generation learning to deal with social media. I love it for so many reasons, but my disdain becomes just as prevalent some days too. Let’s all practice more discretion and more love. (I’m with you ✌🏻).

The Big Picture

I love fall. I love October, but I was awake until 2 a.m. this past week praying and crying. This was also the month that #3’s sister was born. The month we drove up to Wisconsin 2 times within a few days. The month we met that brown eyed beauty then said good bye. I realized this past week that I’ve held a lot of bitterness about this situation.

$55,000. That’s how much we spent within two years for 2 adoptions. (Don’t come telling me how crazy we are. I see y’all with your Razors and boats and that’s not our thing). It wouldn’t have been possible without allllll the people that donated and bought from our fundraisers.

During the month of October this all comes to surface and is often in the forefront of my mind. This past week, however; I had some clarity given to me.

  • We adopted #3 not wanting a 4th child after her.
    -We received a call when she was 6 months old that she had a full biological sibling on the way. We knew how rare it was for adopted children to have an opportunity to end up with full biological siblings. (We were secretly hoping it would be a boy).
    -Went up to bring baby girl home with us.
    -Left Wisconsin empty handed and heavy hearted.
    -Realized we did want to add a fourth to our family after going through that. (Once the heartbreak lessened).
    -Started foster care (I think $55,000 is our limit on adoption expenses).
    -Got to love on (and still do) the sweetest, little love who needed extra attention at the beginning of his life that we were able to give him
    -Added the 4th child.

All of these steps (and years) happened because there would be a boy (yay!) born on August 2nd, 2019 who would join our family forever. If we never pursued #3’s sister we wouldn’t have wanted a 4th.

Don’t forget that just because you can’t always see God’s plan doesn’t mean there isn’t one. He sees the entire picture whereas we see only what’s in front of us.

Thorn Bearers

I think I’m a person who is pretty real with herself. In high school, a girl who didn’t like me tried telling everyone I had kankles.

A friend came up and told me, utterly appalled at the sentiment. I looked at her and said “but I do”. (Thanks family genes).

But y’all, I’m not here for this adult acne. I can’t even tell you the amount of products I’ve tried or the amount of complaints my significant other has had to listen to. (Sorry hubs)

This morning while helping the kids get ready for school, one child said “I’m not pretty”. I responded “what’s not pretty?” The child responded “my face.” (Now I know we all have our moments of insecurities so I know this isn’t abnormal).

While I was talking to my kid, I found me preaching to myself.
“Beauty is so much more than what’s on the outside.”
“You’re beautiful because God saw you just as you are and decided it was perfect.”
“YES, you ARE beautiful!” (I know you parents hear me).

While I was reading 2 Corinthians this morning, Paul was talking about his thorn in the flesh. How he was grateful for it because it caused him to depend on God more. The conversation with my little one this morning came back to me. My conversations with Tyler came back to me. We are all “thorn bearers” in one way or another.

We aren’t perfect and never will be. Some days we don’t feel beautiful. But we can still give thanks for these insecurities if they cause us to look towards God.

If everything were perfect at all times in our lives, we wouldn’t be looking towards Heaven. We wouldn’t be looking for anything outside this world. And it’s the outside source (God) that can sustain us through the hardships and insecurities. Some day, we may even count them as blessings.

Home Relationships Matter Too

These are my people.

I love the days we’re all under the same roof. At this age, being under the same roof isn’t all sunshine and roses. They bicker. They aggravate. They yell. They cry. It’s tiring, but tiring doesn’t equal bad. They’re building relationships, even while disagreeing. They’re also at the age that I have to regroup us when it gets too far. (This generally includes reorienting my own heart).

So often we give our best to those outside our home, and give the ones in it our leftovers. Remember our children are people too. Our relationship with them (and them with each other) matters too.

Character and Intent

There are times that I care WHY things happen more than the fact that they happened.

There have been several times I’ve told my kids no to something if the only reason they wanted to do it was “because everyone else is doing it”.

Why do I do this? Because intent matters. Because character matters.

-When you use your beauty only to please others, it becomes theirs.
-When you use your brain only to show off to others, it becomes theirs.
-When you put on a persona when others are there, it becomes theirs.

Someone once told me I should support all women any where because I am a woman. Now believe me, I am all about strong women being out there in the world. I hope and pray every day that I’m raising strong girls/women. But I judge people on the content of their character and intentions. Regardless of who they are.

Intentions matter. Character (I’m talking the character that shows when you’re behind closed doors and no one else is around) matters. I think we easily forget this nowadays. In a time where everything is on show for everyone (want to see what I ate for dinner tonight?), we forget that intentions matter.

What’s the funny thing about intentions and character? No one really knows them but myself, and whomever I might share that information with. But when we stop learning to discern and reflect on these we easily give other people power over our lives.

When we begin living for others, our lives become theirs. We look for acceptance where we don’t really need acceptance. We look for support where we don’t really need support. We give people way too much power over us nowadays.

I’ve always said if I can lay my head and rest easily in the fact that I stayed true to what I believe God says and what my convictions are, then I’ve done alright. How others respond is on them. That doesn’t mean I always do it right, but I keep trying. That’s what matters.