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I’m an idealist, which was a great thing until I became a mom and all semblance of control and the ability to complete my goals went out the window.

OK, so maybe I’m being a bit dramatic. 

I’m sharing a bit of my heart and my struggle with perfection, today over at Inspired to Action. Join me?

I’d love to see your beautiful faces over there in the comments.

I love to study the Bible! It is a joy to see truths jump off the page.

For me, finding the main points of a passage is like a framing picture I can pick up and put on my desk—a tangible, visible representation of who God is and what He wants from me. Characteristics of a true Christ-follower become clearer, commands are more distinct, Christ’s greatness better seen.

I can pick up these “framed” truths and observe them again and again. Over time, my desk collects frame after glorious frame—portraits of the masterpiece of Scripture.

I’ve been in the Psalms for a few months now, and I saw Psalm 86 in a different light recently. I’m sharing about today over at Caroline’s.

I hope you’ll join me!

 

I shared my heart a few months ago, about my struggle with being a stay-at-home mom. It was a post that I knew I was supposed to write, but felt myself extremely frightened hitting publish. For the most part, the “bearing of my soul” was incredible well-received, and you all just showered me with encouragement and stories of your own struggle.

Thank you, for that.

The more I share my heart, the real me, the more I realize that there are so many others out there that also struggle. This is all so strangely freeing.

To know I’m not alone in my depression and struggle with motherhood.

Of course, I know the struggle is mostly in my head—that I am not the only imperfect one. But getting it to sink deep down into my heart? That’s a different story.

Most of this is about the battle to connect my heart’s cry with my what my mind knows.

Dealing with Opposition

So, I said that it was mostly well-received. There was a bit of opposition. I’m not afraid of opposition, and I am so thankful for those comments. We all need to be able to hear the criticisms, and take them to the Lord. He has given us each other to point us to Him—sometimes through difficult conversations.

I did take the concerns to the Lord, and to my husband, but came out from it back where I had landed—that this IS the best place for us now.

Yet, I find myself feeling a bit mis-understood.

It is difficult to communicate by heart, and all of my story in 700 words. My struggle with being a stay-at-home mom is only one part of the journey. The words of the concerned commenters were very kind, but I could hear the worry in their words—the worry that I was going off the deep end, losing my focus—and my children would be the ones to pay for my “mistake”.

I don’t know, maybe this is all about the same issue, that I care too much about the ideal and what other’s think. But it still weighs heavy on my heart—that you all might be out there thinking that since I have given up my pursuit of being the typical stay-at-home mom, I am now giving my kids second-best.

How I’ve Become a Better Mom

There are certainly other factors involved, but the bottom line is that the pursuit of the ideal had led me to depression, and as I have taken steps away from trying to fit into a certain “homemaker” mold, my depression is lifting. (That, and a certain little blue and white pill.)

I did not making it lightly, this decision to not homeschool. Nor did I flippantly make the decision to start working outside of the home. Neither were made out of emotions—on solely what I feel. These decisions were prayerfully, slowly, and carefully made by my husband and me.

I was absolutely against going back to work and putting the kids in childcare, even for just a few days a week. It felt like a deferring of my God-given role to someone else. I had my heart set on homeschooling and continuing the typical full-time stay-at-home mom pursuits. But there was one big problem.

It wasn’t working.

Honestly, I was a really bad mother most of the time. Extremely irritable; completely un-motivated to do anything around the house, while I wallowed in my “failures” because my time at home didn’t look like so-and-so’s.

I was so overwhelmed by all that I wasn’t, that it paralyzed me from being who God made me to be.

I have been searching the scriptures lately, on this phrase in Titus 2 to be a “worker at home”, this phrase that so many see as the lynchpin to motherhood. I’m kinda surprised by what I have been learning, and observing…

…but that is all for another post.

Do you feel the pressure to be a certain “type” of “good Christian” mom?

Where do you feel you may be trying to fit into a mold God never designed you to be in?

Have you experienced this “walking away from the ideal” to find that it makes you a better momma?

 

For when my kitchen is a mess…

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…the living room has exploded…

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…and the laundry is taking over…

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…and for when I am weary of it all…

…I am thankful that when the God of all order looks at me He sees Christ’s perfect obedience—not all the chaos in my life, nor my disobedience.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past. (Romans 3:23-25 NLT)

Not because of what I’ve done, but because of what Christ has done on my behalf,  He is well-pleased with me.

(…and at least my floors are clean!)

So, I just got a steam mop, and I love it!

Let me back up.

I have three kids. They are 6, 4, and almost 2. Our floors stay in a state of disgusting. I am not exaggerating. Juices is spilt almost daily, fruit falls on the floor and is stepped on regularly. My vacuum is typically filled mostly with Cheerios and dirty sand from the playground.

I’m not complaining, really. I know that they are just being kids. We are in the training years.

However, over time I have slowed stalled my attempts at even trying to keep the floors clean. I usually wait until we have company, or I just can’t stand it anymore—you know, when my feet are sticking to the floor!

Mopping is a chore, and it is really impossible to do it during the day while the kids are home. It takes forever to dry, and it feels like an all-day event—not the event which is typically on the top of my to-do list. And, if I do ever manage to mop my floor—I kid you not—they were dirty again within hours!

Yeah, so my floors stay sticky and dirty.

My husband had suggested a steam mop months and months ago, but I have dragged my feet about looking into all the steam mop reviews. I have recently found myself dreaming about getting a housekeeper. Someone to come in once a month to do the things I have been unable to get done—like mop my floors. So, with the possibility of that expense on the table, I finally relented to looking into steam mops.

I am amazed at the difference this steam mop has made! It works incredibly well, and it is so easy! The floor dries quickly, and I can mop the majority of my tile—while ALL THREE KIDS ARE HOME.

Wow.

A similar thing happened when I broke down and got a really good vacuum for hard floors. I went from loathing vacuuming—putting it off till as long as possible—to actually enjoying making vacuuming a part of my evening routine.

It is all about using the right tool for the job. 

My husband and I were hanging out with some of our High school students this week, and one of them was saying how his Bible is really hard to read (though he uses the NIV.) When he does read, he feels like he has no idea what it means.

I remember feeling that way—like it was a waste of time to read my Bible. I wanted to be faithful in my Bible reading, and I wanted to draw closer to God, but every time I tried, it seemed pointless.

Kinda like mopping my floors.

Why try so hard to do something, when I never see the fruit of my efforts?

Over time, I was introduced to some Bible study tools which helped tremendously. I started understanding what I was reading, and life change was occurring! Studying my Bible shifted from being a chore, to something I very much looked forward to!

Time will tell if mopping my floors with this new stream mop will become something I look forward to, for the long-haul. But, I am hopeful that my floors will stay much cleaner, on regular basis—that it will become less of a chore, and more of a joy.

Does reading your Bible feel like a chore to you?
Have you experienced this shift of chores turning into an enjoyable event, once you got the right tool? What about with studying your Bible—have you found the right tools for the job?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments (and feel free to share any must-have tools for the dreaded chores—I can use all the help I can get!)

If you are looking for some good Bible Study tools, I invite you to subscribe to my other site Do Not Depart which is dedicated to help encourage and equip you to stay in the Word.

We’ve also recently released the second edition paperback of Savoring Living Water: How to Have an Effective Quiet Time. This book is written to equip you to connect with God in a meaningful way through your time in the Bible!

So, we don’t do Santa, but we have decided to allow the giving of gifts, and even in the giving of those gifts at Christmas, we want to point them to Christ.

Giving (Just) Three Gifts

We’ve chosen to guide our gift-giving through the giving of three gifts. We also want to use the actual giving of the gifts to teach about the Christmas story. So, just as the wise men brought Jesus meaningful gifts, we give gifts with meaning as well.

And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11 ESV)

A Gift of Fun

One gift is simply something they will enjoy. I am not against giving big gifts to our kids, but I would rather leave those “big-ticket” items to be for their birthday. In other words, we don’t spend a lot of money on this gift.

A Gift of Meeting

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Take fragrant spices—gum resin, onycha and galbanum—and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts, and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred. Grind some of it to powder and place it in front of the ark of the covenant law in the tent of meeting, where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you. Do not make any incense with this formula for yourselves; consider it holy to the LORD.” Exodus 30:34-3

The second gift is something that will encourage them in their walk with Christ; something they will use to meet with the Lord. For my little ones, it may be a children’s Bible, or a Bible story board-book. As they get older, and can read on their own, the options will open up quite a bit. My hope is that this will become the gift that they treasure more and more as they grown in their relationship with God.

A Gift of Gold

Our children get a set amount of money and get to give a present to Jesus, through giving to others. As they get older, we want them to have more ownership of this, and choose for themselves how they want to give back to Jesus (there will also probably be a way for them to earn the money they give.) For now, we’ll stick with online giving options. Gift-a-Verse through OneVerse, and the gift catalogue from World Vision are probably the two we will use.

They also get a gold ornament, as a keepsake for the gift given to Jesus. I pray that they will grow to treasure these ornaments, and use them one day to carry on the tradition of giving to Jesus each Christmas.

I’d love to hear how you do gifts in your house. Leave a comment and share your ideas for using gift-giving to point our kids to Jesus!

 

So, I’ve been feeling a bit stuck about bedtime around here.

My older two, who are six and almost four are loving the “I’m hungry/thirsty/not sleepy/anything-else-they-can-think-of-that-can-get-them-out-of-going-to-sleep” game. (Although, one of my favorites is Anna’s “I’m scary,” which is usually her legitimately being afraid—not just stalling.)

I feel as if I am continually having to choose between setting the limits or savoring the moments. I want to build good memories of our time together at bedtime, but at some point I have to draw the line or they would stay up all night.

I’m over at Inspired to Action today…would love for you to join me!

I struggle through the funk of depression, and ride the wave of figuring out what works for us; press past the pursuit of the ideal, to find the realistic.

It’s hard to make these decisions. Endure the thoughts and judgements of others; worry that I’ve lost respect.

There are a few things that I hold to, through this bumpy time. Tangible facts I can tether my feelings to, and drown out the voices of disapproval—including my own. Markers which give me confidence that the Lord had led us here for a time, even thought the “right way” wasn’t always clear.

I am within Biblical boundaries. I am not walking in a pattern of sin by working outside of the home, or not homeschooling. There are no direct commands that I am disobeying. I am above reproach.

My husband is with me in the decision. He was the one who first suggested I go and look for a job. He has been in agreement with all the changes we’ve made, and he still supports them. We’re in this change together.

I’m walking with the Lord. I’m in the Word. I am listening to His Spirit the best I can. He is near. I am experiencing His grace, and the good news of the gospel more and more every day. I am safe in His presence.

My motives are right. I am not setting out to climb any ladders, or find my significance in my performance at work. I am not working so we can be more comfortable financially. I work to see if this depression will keep at bay.

My soul is getting better. Through having a new routine and a few days in my week that I can control and produce results, a part of my soul, which for years has been suppressed and told to hush, is now allowed to show herself. Perform. Keep things nice and organized—without anyone there to mess it up. And when I head home to the mess and chaos, the organized, non-flexible part of me can rest, and know that she will get her time again in a few days.

Many of you have been kind enough to share your own struggle with me, and I thank you. It has been a gift, to be embraced in my struggle and not criticized. My prayer for us all is that we can walk with the Lord, and then walk in confidence to where He leads each of us.

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Write It, Girl

This is our last week of Write It, Girl. What a journey! Thank you for joining Stacey and me.

We have another treat for you, this week from the fabulous Emily Freeman of Chatting at the Sky.

“When was the moment you first believed you were a writer?”

When was the moment I first believed I am a writer? oh wow. Why is that so hard to answer? I think because even now, after having written a blog for six years and two books for a publisher, calling myself a writer still makes me feel a little school-girl silly. It’s because I so greatly respect the title. It’s because I so love the title. It’s because I’m a little shy of the title. I think I began to know it for sure when I stopped writing after my husband and I were married ten years ago. And for those few years, I felt a little lost. When I started Chatting at the Sky in 2006, my soul began untangling and it was then that I knew, oh. I feel more myself now. Maybe I’m a writer.

Funny how writing was the thing that convinced me I’m a writer. Maybe it’s that way with everyone?

Emily is bringing back Tuesdays Unwrapped for the month of December. Check it out!

Link up below! Anyone is welcome, just be sure to link up to your own Write It, Girl post (not your homepage), and comment on at least the post before yours in the link-up. Of course, we would love it if you use the button so we can find each other!

Write It Girl

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I found my first big calling in college. As a student involved in Campus Crusade for Christ, I grew tremendously in my walk with God, and quickly began serving alongside the staff at Auburn University, to help disciple women and bring the gospel to the lost on campus.

I loved it.

After my time at Auburn, I moved to Jacksonville, and quickly got involved in the Crusade ministry there. I was handed the women’s ministry and dove head first into leading Bible studies, one-on-one discipleship, and outreach opportunities on campus.

I loved it.

Then I came on staff full-time to continue this ministry. I poured my life into my disciples. I shared my faith regularly. I got to continually impart the truths of scripture.

I loved it.

Through my ten years of ministry with Cru, I found my calling and what God has built me for.

I am called to passionately teach the Word of God. I am to train and equip the saints to walk with God for a lifetime. 

And then I became a mother and I was given a new calling. A calling to be their mom.

Motherhood is a high calling. It is a privilege. God has entrusted me with the lives of these precious souls, and it is not a role I take lightly.

Although, in recent months, I have been wrestling with a question I just can’t shake:

Is the calling of motherhood the only one I can have, and still be a good mom? 

…and…

Can pursuing both callings actually make me a better mother?

I love my kids, and I am so incredibly grateful to the Lord for them. They are truly gifts. Yet, I feel as if I lost a part of myself when I became a mom.

(Photo taken by my sweet 3-year-old!)

Recently I have taken steps toward fulfilling that first calling I heard from the Lord, I am slowly seeing a part of me come to life again.

This isn’t the post where I tie it all up in a nice bow, this is just where I am at and what I am wrestling with.

I wonder if you might be struggling with your calling as well? How do you balance this great calling to motherhood with the calling toward ministry which takes time and energy away from your family? 

Linking up with Write it, Girl!

I really struggle with being home with my little ones. I love them, incredibly, but after six years of being home full-time it has become clear this is not a good place for me, right now.

It has been a hard pill to swallow, this realization that I can’t be the stay-at-home-mom I think I should be.  

Somewhere along the lines I have bought into the lie that to be a good Christian mom I need to stay home, keep my house clean, plan out my meals and bake my own bread. I must homeschool my kids, with a well-thought out plan for each day, and I should enjoy it every step of the way.

Fact is, my house is a wreck, my awesome husband does most of the cooking, and I dread making plans for our day. I am continually looking for ways to divert my children’s attention away from me, and I breathe a sigh of relief when they are all finally in bed.

I don’t like being a stay-at-home mom. There, I said it.

The Bible is clear that my family must come first. It is clear that I am to love, serve and teach my children. I am to be a worker at home—my home ministry is to be my base and what is most important. However, it is not clear on many things.

There is no command in scripture I see that says I must educate solely from home (as much as I wish I could homeschool). The Bible does not forbid me from having a ministry outside of the home, or working and putting my kids in childcare. I will not be condemned for feeding my kids McDonalds or letting them watch more than an hour of TV a day.

No one has said these things directly to me, but somewhere along the lines I have believed these lies. Slowly I have bought into the thinking that there is only one type of mom that is the “ideal mom”.

It has proven deadly to my soul.

We’ve made some big adjustments, in the last few months, in order to change the unhealthy trajectory of my well-being. I am settled and content with where the Lord has me. I have a messy house. I don’t meal plan, and when I do cook it usually involves a can opener and a microwave. I am not a homeschool mom. I work part-time, and a few days a week, my kids are childcare kids (and to my surprise, they love it!)

I have had to let go of what I thought the “ideal” mom looked like, and as I have, it has freed me up to become a better mom.

Life: UnmaskedLinking up with Joy.