#LikeAMom

mom power-basicI have the privilege of speaking to a MOPS group in a couple weeks. In all honesty, I never thought they would be my audience. You know…those moms. Ironically, I am one of those moms. You know, the kind who stays home and makes the conscious choice to be around their kids all day.

You see, when I was little I said I wanted to be a mom when I grew up. No joke. I wanted to be a mom and stay at home because I have a pretty awesome mom and that’s what she did. And hey, my sister and I turned out pretty good, so that had to be the right decision for me too.

Of course when I made that decision, I had NO IDEA what I was agreeing to. Honestly, most of the time, I still don’t know what I signed up for.

Initially, my life didn’t really change. Samara, my oldest, was pretty compliant to whatever schedule (or lack thereof) we threw her way. As long as she could sleep, she was content. Added bonus was that she never really experienced separation anxiety so I could pass her off to any momma at church who was looking for a baby fix.

But twenty-two months after I had Samara, I had Aliyah and everything changed.

It was hard and I was pretty sure I was guaranteeing my kids would be in serious need of counseling later in life.

You see, I thought to be a mom, I had to be able to cook wholesome, everyone-loves-their-veggies kind of meals every night. To be a good mom, I had to be able to keep the house clean. I mean, I was home all day after all. I thought to be a good mom, I had to be able to brainstorm awesome activities and crafts that would interest even a one-year-old. And that was not me.

That is still not me.

But through some really dark and miserable moments, I began to learn that being a mom is so much more.

Being a mom means that I will be there unconditionally for my girls.

Being a mom means that I will encourage them to dream big, no matter how fantastical their dream may seem.

Being a mom means that I get bruised knees from the amount of time I lay myself before God on behalf of my girls.

Being a mom means going to bat for them against the monsters they fight–whether they are imaginary or real.

Being a mom takes guts, but delivers no glory.

Being a mom is what I have been called to do. It’s a piece of who God created me to be. I have been called to be a speaker and a writer, but I have also been called to be a mom; and that is one of the most noble and humbling callings I can imagine. It is the most challenging job I have ever had, but when I hear my sweet girls tell me, “I love you mom,” and pummel me in a hug, the reward surpasses any frustration I’ve dealt with.

I’m going to mess up, loose my cool, and sometimes overreact. But more than anything, I am going to continue to grow and learn what it looks like to do this mom-thing. I’m going to love my girls #likeamom, I’m going to encourage my girls #likeamom, I’m going to play with my girls #likeamom, and I’m going to continue to pray over my girls #likeamom.

I am brave #likeamom.

I am strong #likeamom.

and I depend on God #likeamom.

While I never imagined that moms would be my target audience, I am honored to share my heart with them (#likeamom) and hope for more opportunities to share with other amazing moms in the future.

*If you happen to be a part of MOPS of Hillside in Keller, TX…I can’t wait to share this with you in greater detail on March 18th*

It Only Takes a Single Word

Aliyah, my two-year-old daughter, has already proven herself to own a tenacious streak that rears its head from time to time. Recognizing that characteristic to have come from me, I (kind of) know what to expect when it displays itself in a negative light– a battle of the wills.

We had one such battle this morning. Both girls are recovering from a nasty sickness that overtook our home for the past week, leaving us all a little grumpy and anxious to get back to our routines. In response to me telling Aliyah not to touch all of the electronics on my night stand (all being a total of two: my cell phone and my Kindle Fire), she decided to tap (hit) me in the face. It wasn’t hard and it is along the lines of a game the she and her daddy play from time to time, however, there was a need for consequence. In all, she ended up in time out and was required to apologize to me.

A single word, that’s all it would take for her to be released from her spot in the corner. After a couple minutes I would direct her to say, “I’m sorry Mommy,” or even just, “sorry.” Tears would come, kisses would be offered, giggles would tried, but no ounce of “sorry” was uttered. So she would be put back into timeout. Again. And again.

I’m humbled when I consider how often I react this way to God. I’ll act out, find myself dealing with the consequences, and all that needs to happen to change my circumstance is to acknowledge my mistake and cry out to God. In a single word, I could find forgiveness. But instead, I defiantly stand in my corner, complaining but never doing the one simple thing that would release me– crying out to God.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:17-18, NIV)

When we cry out to God, He hears and answers us. When Aliyah finally said sorry, I held her tightly in my arms assuring her that I forgave her and that I loved her. God responds the same way, if only we resolve to throw away out pride and cry out to Him.

Children don’t disqualify you from service

As the mom to a four-year-old and a two-year-old, there are times when life feels limited. Whether deciding against hiking a particular trail because it would be too far for the kids to walk, or not going to an event because there isn’t childcare provided, or simply selecting kid-friendly restaurants because there are times when they simply won’t sit politely at the table and eat all of their veggies. Life becomes messy and while children are a tremendous blessing, there are times when it feels like you are giving up opportunities.

As an analytical person, I tend to evaluate situations prior to stepping into them. That means that prior to saying, “yes,” I determine whether or not I have to have my girls with me or if there will be childcare, if they are with me, will they be a distraction? Is it safe for my kids to be around this particular environment? I find myself using my children as excuses as to why I can’t serve.

Of course, there are always exceptions, but how often have I turned down an opportunity to serve because I didn’t think they were old enough or there was a potential danger of some sort? How many times have I missed an opportunity to share Jesus, not only to the individual I would be serving, but to my children as they experienced what it looks like to love like Jesus loved?

It is all to easy to see my children as an excuse of why I can’t. Please understand that I adore my girls. I want to spend time with them and to raise them with wisdom and discernment. I chose to stay home with them and know that I will never regret making that decision.

But I have seen someone on the side of the road, wondered their story, but chose to not get out of the car and start a conversation because I had my girls with me and I wasn’t sure if it would be “safe.” I have seen opportunities to go on a mission trip but didn’t because I thought that if I had my girls with me, they would be a distraction for the other people and it would end up being pointless.

I want my girls to grow up thinking that occasionally paying for the car behind them in a drive-thru is a normal thing to do. I want them to be bold enough to not just offer a homeless woman lunch, but offer to sit and have lunch with her so that they can hear her story and tell her about Jesus. I want my girls to see how Kyle and I serve others so that it will become a natural and instinctive way for them to live their own lives.

I will continue to use discernment in when to say yes and how to serve, but I will not make that decision solely based on the fact that I have young children. I want to have adventures by serving and I want to have those adventures with my entire family–no matter what their age.

A mommy lesson to kick off Advent

Samara Christmas 2014

Samara posing after helping to decorate our tree last night. (11/29/14)

I opened my computer with the thought of writing about the Christmas stress that so quickly descends upon us. I know our budget has already felt the restraints tighten and we aren’t even to December yet. But as I started my laptop up (as a distraction to the suitcases that still need to be sorted through and unpacked from a couple weeks ago), Samara came in asking me to play with her.

This question isn’t extraordinary or rare. In fact, it’s pretty common around our house. My girls love to play and they love to have Kyle and I play right alongside them. Samara, who will be four next week, seeks out the quality time (she is so much like her daddy).

Too often I find myself with the same response I had this morning—not right now, but I will later.

Later to a four-year-old is as good as a straight-up no.

Already slightly guilt ridden, I lost it as I heard her go up to Kyle and say, “Mommy doesn’t want to play with me.” I was helpless to stop the tears. It felt as though a small piece of my heart tore at the sound of her disappointed voice.

They are only little once. Everyone has told me this, and I’ve never doubted how quickly it would go by. I did, however, underestimate the responsibility that comes with stopping to play with my girls.

In a season that never slows down. Where more has to be better, I have to wonder how my priorities may shift during a holiday season. On the tail of overcooking and overeating, I have a birthday party to plan for a daughter who won’t tell me who her friends are so I have no idea who to invite, and then we slide right into the plethora of holiday get-togethers. It is an ever teetering balance of friends and family, gifts versus no gifts, another large meal on an already tight budget…and the daily needs of two little girls who are growing up before my very eyes.

The reality is that the chores and decorating can wait. My daughter cannot. I never want her to feels as though she isn’t my priority or that I don’t have time for her. I never want her to stop asking me to play or to spend time with her. Of course, she’ll need to learn that there are times when mommy and daddy need to get things done (and she’ll have her own chores to do)…but for today, it can wait. For today, my role as mommy take precedence over everything else. If for no other reason than to enjoy these precious, fleeting moments while I still have them.

This also happens to be the first week of the Christmas advent season. This week has a focus on hope. That hope which comes only from Jesus is to fill our hearts and our homes this season (and all through the year of course). It is this same hope that assures me that I’m doing okay as a mom. It’s this same hope that reassures me that just as God loves us, He has given me an opportunity to love my children and show them the love I have received so freely.

During this Christmas season, I pray that you find hope in those moments that initially feel like failures. I pray that the hope of Jesus fills your heart and frees you from the guilt. Hope is more than just a wish, it’s a word rooted in trust. Hope is knowing that there is something more and believing it with all your heart, soul, and mind. That hope when placed in Jesus is life changing and I pray that you are able to rest in that hope.

Prayers for my Princess

Tcrown sketchhe book/devotional I am currently working on is called Ever After (I know super girly, but I love it. I even have Disney Princess wallpaper that rotates every hour on my laptop). The tag line is (work in progress): rediscovering who we were made to be as daughters of the King. (like I said, it’s still a work in progress but it gives you an idea of the focus and direction I’m taking it.) As I’m writing this particular book, I tend to look to my daughters to accurately capture that pre-“the world and all of it’s realities have dashed my innocence”.

Through MOPS and bible studies, I have been (kinda) indirectly encouraged to savor the wonderful ciaos that is motherhood of young children but more than anything, I am recognizing the wonderful trove of wisdom that my sweet girls can teach me.

About a month ago, I journaled a prayer of sorts that I want to share with you guys this week.

Sooo, here you go…

(from July 21 at 11 pm)

Before heading to bed, I walked quietly to each of my daughters’ rooms. I said a prayer over each of them and then stood, humbled and amazed as I watched my oldest sleep. (Yes, all parents watch their children sleep at some point. No, it’s not weird or creepy.)

As I watched her sigh quietly as she dreamed, a tightness formed in my chest. I gazed over her princess night-light, her fantastically pink comforter, and even her pink, ice cream jammies. She is as “girly” as it gets right now. All colors directly relate to a princess (purple=Jasmine or Rapunzel, green=Tiana, blue=Cinderella, yellow=Belle, and so on.) Anyone wearing a dress is considered a princess. Her favorite thing in the world is to dress up in her Cinderella dress and dance around the house, acting out (and quoting line by line) any and all Disney movies (especially the princess movies).

Her wonderful innocence is reflected in the crease-less peace on her face as she continued to dream.

How is it that childhood fantasy is shattered? When? How long before my precious child is thrust into the cruel, unforgiving realities of life? I know that day will come, but for tonight I pray against it. (this is still as true today as it was then)

I pray for the innocense of my child. I pray for her to know peace. Samara means protected by God, and I pray that to be true in her life.

Her Zune player lulls the next song on her playlist and the unassuming, lyrical voice of my husband’s grandmother echos in the hallway. “Sleep my child, sleep. Rest in your Father’s arms.”

I don’t look forward to the day my precious girl no longer runs into my arms, screaming “Mommy! Mommy!” excitedly as she snuggles in close. But I know, just as she will not always believe that everyone wearing a dress is a princess, she will not always seek my arms for comfort. I desperately pray that the words of that song, however, will always be true. That she will rest in her Father’s arms and know (and believe) that she is a princess because her heavenly Father is King.

I pray that you will find encouragement and humbleness in my words. I would love to hear how your children have taught you or how (if your are a student or simply don’t have kids) looking at the world through the eyes of a child can change your perspective and how God can speak to you through that?

Created for Community

Something amazing happens when I begin to find community…I’m happier. It’s no real secret that my claim to personality fame is that I am an extroverted introvert (I love people. I have no problem with public speaking, but I fear initiating conversation with people I don’t know and if given the choice will hole up with a book in a cabin alone for a weekend and be incredibly content).  But even as an introvert, I need those few people to share my life with (and my poor husband gets worn out when I don’t have them).

Since moving this past January (has it really been almost 9 months already?!), it’s safe to say that I have experienced some periods of loneliness. And when no friends is coupled with being a stay at home mom to two littles, it equals an emotional challenge to say the least.

For those of you who are still in school, it becomes challenging to make friends as you get older. School and sports and other activities provides a pretty natural environment to meet people and get to know them and become friends. I’m discovering that as you get older, people become content with the friends they have and don’t always find the necessity in making new ones (which is kinda…well, annoying to be honest. It’s hard being the newbie.)

I guess that’s why when other believers talk about not seeing the need for attending church on a weekly basis or being a part of a small group of some sort because their faith is personal, I get confused. Yes, I read my Bible on my own. Yes, I pray on my own (and with my family). Yes, I would consider my relationship with God personal, though I have to add an addendum to that as it’s not something that I keep to myself, just that it’s a personal relationship in which it’s depth greatly depends solely on me and God. Yes, I understand and can relate to ALL of those things. But I can honestly say that I am a mess without community and I think that is an intentional feeling that is seeded by God.

You see in Hebrews 10 it says, 

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25, NIV, emphasis mine)

Numerous times in scripture, we are encouraged to seek the counsel of others, to spur one another along, to specifically meet with one another. Of course we technically can walk in our faith alone, but that was never the intention. God created us as relational beings, which is why He longs to have a relationship with each and every one of us. He understands and designed us to want community and even if we don’t necessarily want it, we need it.

Whether through a group of women meeting on Tuesday mornings from all walks and stages of life (let’s hear it for my Titus 2 group!) or meeting with a bunch of moms who are in the trenches of toddler mommy-hood (let’s hear it for my MOPS mommas!), I need community. Not just because I want to have a conversation with someone older than 4, but because God has wired me in such a way that it is refreshing water to my soul. They can encourage and love on me. They can pray for me. They can laugh with me. And I can give back to each of them in the same way. We are a community that God has knit beautifully together to bring Him glory. And I am so grateful to be back in the midst of that community again. 🙂

What kinds of groups do you find uplift you the most? Where has God created an opportunity for community in your own life?

As always, I look forward to hearing from you 🙂  Blessings to you this week!

What I’ve learned as a Mom

When I was in elementary school, I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up.  It’s a pretty typical question to ask little kids and can spark a multitude of dreams and/or laughter depending on the response.  I said I wanted to be a mom.  It was something I have always imagined being wonderful and self fulfilling.  I wanted to stay home with my children as they grew and devote every moment to them.

I’m now 3 1/2 years into this mom thing and I can tell you a couple things I’ve learned in that short amount of time:

1. It is wonderful.  One of the most amazing things I have ever had the privilege of doing in fact.  Hearing my daughter say” I love you Momma” is humbling beyond belief. I’m awestruck at the little people that I gave birth to and the absolutely incredible feats that they are already accomplishing.

2. Speaking of humbling…motherhood is the hardest job I have ever had.  And I’ve worked at a rental car agency and had to tell people that the insurance was no longer paying for their rental car even though their car wasn’t fixed and it wasn’t their fault to begin with…it trumps that by a long shot.  There are days that I sit down on the couch after both of my daughters are in bed (neither one asleep however), and wonder what on earth we did all day.  Did they actually eat a meal or was it just snacks?  How is it possible to be this tired?!  Then one (or both) start crying and I realize that I’m not getting the night off.

And this is with being incredibly blessed to have an active and involved husband who does help me with the girls after coming home from a 9-10 hour day at work.

The benefits definitely outweigh the challenges, but there are some days that I feel like I am the worst mother on the face of the earth.  I feel like a failure and I long for the days when I will be able to go into an office and talk to adults like a “normal” human being.  And if you are a mom and ever feel this way, I want to tell you that you’re not alone and no, it does not make you a “bad” mother.  It makes you human.  You aren’t failing at motherhood.

Children want to be loved and we as moms can do that, no matter how dirty our floors are or how few vegetables we get our kids to eat.  If you love your children and you are doing your very best, then the likelihood is that you are a great Momma.  I want you to hear that again–You are a great Momma.

Believe it for yourself and allow yourself to accept that we are going to yell at our kids when we shouldn’t.  We’re going to “lose it” when it’s the least convenient time possible.  We’re going to have messy houses, cars, clothes, hair, and faces.  We’re going to feel like we give and give and give until we are so past empty and wonder why on earth we signed up for this.  But then we’ll get a hug or a slobbery kiss.  We’re going to hear those precious words, “I love you Mommy.”  And then you remember.  It’s so worth it.  Every second of insanity is worth those precious moments with our blessings.  Every tear cried in frustration (at the children or yourself) is worth it to hear them laugh and play with pure joy found in their innocence.

It’s worth it and you are a great Momma.

So to all of the incredible Mommy’s out there (and Grandmothers or Nanas or Mimis or whatever name you use):

Happy Mother’s Day.  We love you and are so grateful for all that you give each and every day.