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.

Last week, I stumbled upon a printout from a church Ladies Ministry meeting. It was dated in the year 2016. I had only been doing the Ladies Ministry at church for a short period of time then.

I grew to be discouraged because we are now in the year 2021 and I don’t feel like I am any more adept at teaching the Bible that I was in 2016. Agreeing to do the Ladies Ministry in my church wasn’t an easy decision for me. I love to learn. I love to read. I love to grow in knowledge of God. I also feel a great pressure at relaying the word of God inaccurately. I used to have to sit down after the monthly meetings to catch my breath because my heart would be beating so intensely in my chest.

I did agree to do it (after much prayer), not because I felt overly qualified and not because I was suddenly comfortable with the idea. I agreed because I want to use my life to be spent for God. I think we make a mistake to think we are only called to situations by God if we experience “peace” or are comfortable in our calling.

I read back on some of the notes and lessons of the past and think “Man, that person sounds like she knows what she’s talking about”. Which is a huge conflict in my mind because I remember how inadequate I felt at that time. I also know how inadequate I felt last month as we began monthly lessons after a year off due to Covid.

I thought by 2021, I would feel less encumbered with the idea of leading a small group of women with God’s Word. I think discouragement was the wrong response because James 3:1 says “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness”.

Now I don’t think this is a statement aimed at discouraging the idea of wanting to spread the word of God. I do, however; believe this is a command to be careful what proceeds out of your mouth (or fingers) when you are in a position to give Godly wisdom to others. Advice without Godly wisdom can actually do more harm than good.

Upon further reflection, I think I am exactly where I’m supposed to be 5 years in. If I grow too confident in my own abilities, it will become easier for me to attempt to do life and teaching without God. I think my feels of inadequacy are my pathway to dependence on God. That’s exactly where he wants me.

James 4:6 reminds me that God opposes the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. May I always remember I need His grace and my weakness is actually my blessing.

Taking the Form of a Servant

My 10 year old has recently asked me to read along with him through the Harry Potter books. He asked because he knows I read regularly and I haven’t ever read this series. To be honest, Harry Potter has never interested me (😮 I know). I am excited however to read them now, because I love Tripp (and at this age I’m holding on to any moment he wants to spend time with me).

I always think that Christians are called to favor everyone except themselves. Philippians 2:3 actually tells us to “count others more significant than yourselves”. We’re told to look to the interests of others. It’s easy for me to want to do this with Tripp because I love him. But I am pretty sure that is not limited to only those I love.

I know in the past, there have been people that have felt wronged by Christians. I know people have met Christians they think are hypocritical, judgmental, etc. They wouldn’t have felt that way if they had been treated the way referred to in Philippians 2.

On the reverse of that, I see a thing coming to light that says “since we were wronged, we’ll do whatever we want and rewrite the rules of Christianity”. If you love God, you should want to spend time with Him (just like your kids). When you spend time with Him by reading His word, you learn how God wants us to live.

Even in this, we don’t focus on ourselves but on God. Why? We imitate the only, true example of self-sacrifice. The only who “didn’t count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant”.