I see you walk out of your room, your little curls bobbing up and down. You have been walking for over a year now, but your steps are still that cute little awkward step of a toddler. You are wearing your "daddy shirt" which the smallest size was a girl's small. It comes down to your toes, awe, your toes. Those cute, small toes, that I painted for the first time the other day. You are timid as you approach me with your big blue eyes staring at my face. You are watching every movement of my face, gauging my potential reaction to your approach. I smile at you through gritted teeth, trying to hold off the feeling of heartburn, or is it nausea? These days it seems to be both. You waddle over to me and in your meekest little voice ask, "Mommy are you still sleeping? Mommy can you play with me?". I am quick to respond, "Not right now sweetie. Mommy doesn't feel good." and I watch the hurt in your eyes that you are trying to hide. I follow up with, "Once your brother is here I will be able to play more." You are such a good little girl, you accept my words as truth, give me a tender hug and kiss my cheek, and walk back to your room, to play...alone.
How was I, a naive, first time time mom, to know that I was lying to my sweet little Peanut? Once her brother came there were late nights up feeding. During the day there was her brother that needed most of my attention. Little did I know three months later I would have to tell my sweet and patient girl that I again could not crawl under her bed anymore because I was pregnant again. Little did I know I had lost precious time that could never be retrieved. Oh the heartache it brings a mother, knowing time has been lost, promises broken, hurts made; and the only thing you can do is press on, try to do better from here on out, not dwell on the lost time.
I remember by daughter Briseis, we were at the doctor's appointment having my ultrasound done to look at her soon to be second brother. I laughed when she broke down, I even took a picture, but deep in my heart I was breaking with her. I knew then all the promises I had made her about how things would "go back" to being like they were between her and I, once her brother came. I knew I had broken her trust. She was 2 years old when she thought I would hold true to my promises. She was 2 and a half when I lost her trust by telling her another sibling was on the way.
What hurts me the most is I had never wanted a girl. I had wanted boys and that was it. I felt I was an annoying daughter to my mom and I certainly didn't want to raise an annoying daughter. A daughter that would make silly animal sounds when she used her imagination, a daughter who would not be a perfect little princess. Briseis was sent to me by God as my first for a very good reason. He knew all along my daughter would change my world, that she would change my heart; that she would make me a fighter as a mom should be. He knew I would need her as much as she needed me. The feeling I got when the doctor placed her on my stomach was never repeated with her brothers. Don't get me wrong, I love my boys, but I had known I had wanted them. My feeling with Briseis were like when the Grinch's heart grew and bust the seams of the screen.
The regret of lost time with just her and I has been weighing heavy on me lately. Mother, if you are a first time mom and are pregnant again, cherish the time with it just being your first and you. Push through the morning sickness, push through the heartburn, push through the fatigue. I promise you, you don't want the regret of losing this last chance to be with just your little one. It is too late for Briseis and I, and it kills me when her brothers are mean or she feels I am paying too much attention to them. She will say she is fine now, lying to hide her true feelings. And if I am not paying attention I will go on with my day, but if I am paying attention to her facial expression or mood she will open up that she misses our time together. I know she will soon forget being an only child, but for now it causing a flood of regret. I wish I had gotten up off that couch for the nine months it took to make her brother and did everything I could. I wish I had known what I would be losing. We have a great relationship and it is growing really well, but it is different now. I wish I could go back to relive it once last time, just once last time of it being just her and I. I wasted so much time!
After Leonidas was born I said to myself, "I'll be the same mom to him that I am to Briseis". Oh my sweet boy, another lie. Once again, I had little idea that he would not even have turned one before his brother came. Not only that, but that three weeks later we would move into their grandparents house while we waited for our home to sell. The decision was best, driving home to two dead bodies in the shop down the road from you would make any mother want out of there. It was so hard for my little guy, not even one yet, the baby of the family, and boom! Just like that he isn't the baby anymore, he can't even comprehend why. I will never forget sitting at my in-laws house feeding my youngest and Leonidas comes up, not even walking yet, with out stretched arms, and wants me to hold him... and I couldn't because his little brother was feeding. Rejko was a surprise, so it caught us all of guard and we all loved him a ton. But there is hurt non the less, hurt of forcing my not even one year old to grow up a little faster. Little did I know in just a month or so he would scare all of us with a mass on his head. I remember pleading with God to spare him cancer. Our God works in mysterious ways. God was trying to get someone's attention through Leonidas, it was my husband. Their relationship had been rough from the get go because of GERD and Leonidas constantly cried as a baby. This mass made us realize it was because his head had been hurting and that brought them very close. God preformed a miracle in my son, it was not cancer, it was a mutated vein that was suppose to have an injection put into it to kill it. But miraculously, it went away on its own, the vein is still there but the best the doctors can come up with is it's in a dormant state.
See during this time at the in-laws, there wasn't a lot to do and my kids were being so good. Yet once again, I would have two little people walk up to me and ask me to play. I still had not learned my lesson from Briseis. Now I was on to social media creating Halfway To Sunday. I was so engrossed in the abortion information that was coming out I wanted to fight back and unite mothers. Once I got it going I would be there for my kids. But days turned into years and I never made good on my intentions. Living at my in-laws I had to take care of two rooms and a bathroom. I had plenty of time to make good on past promises. But once again I let time slip away. Even now Leonidas will ask if mommy can sleep with him and I find myself not wanting to because then I can't get on my phone before bed. So I again make up an excuse saying, "Not tonight, maybe in a few nights I will.". Don't be blinded or numb to when your children are needing you for security or simply they just want to be with you. Don't step on the land mind of what you want when what you need is right where you are, holding your child.
Little did I know, that my addiction to social media would steal my time away from all my children. So many hours I missed watching them play. So many days I missed joining in on their play. So many times I just missed what mattered most. Rejko has probably had it the easiest being the youngest. He hasn't had the pleasure of watching a mom go from being patient, kind, slow to anger, loving and caring (like Briseis had); to easier to upset, easier to become frustrated, reclusive (like Leonidas had); to short tempered, overwhelmed, agitated. That is the mom Rejko gets.
Now I know some of you will say "Give yourself grace mom" and run off the list of what I am doing. I do give myself grace and a lot of it. But I am also not content with the mother I am right now. I love my children and I try to show it so they always know. I am a good mom and I do a lot for my children. I am a strong mom and I make sure they see that. But I want to be a better mom, a mom more like I was when it was just Briseis and me. I yearn for that. I don't want another milestone to hit me out of the blue. Like when Rejko woke up one morning and he looked different. I realized it fast, he had lost his baby cheeks over night it seemed. In reality it wasn't over night, I'm sure it was a gradual thing, but to a disconnected mom it seemed over night.
Mommies, I am not willing to wait a second longer to spend my life present with my children. I am not willing to risk tomorrow not coming before I wake up to the blessings God gave me. Mommies, we have the MOST important CAREER in the world, being mothers. So because of this I am saying a farewell to social media, all of it. I want to be a present mom not a mom that can't read a book for bed because I need to write my blog. I want to be a mom that does crafts again not just for a holiday but just because. I want to do better for my children. I have spent so much time and energy chasing anything but motherhood. A business in marketing, a business in blogging, a business in writing, when all along God had the perfect business for me, motherhood. I am tired moms, tired of all the cares of the world being shouted out on social media. Tired of the hate and cruelness and anger and I can't get away from it until I shut off the social media outlets. I will continue to blog WHEN IT IS CONVENIENT FOR ME. That may mean few see what I have to say, it may mean this never becomes a monetary business; but you know what? I am now more then okay with that, I am excited to give this motherhood business 100% again. It has been far to long. So I can't tell you when I will post a new blog, may be a week, a month, a year... maybe never. I will leave that to God to put on my heart. But for now I am 100% committed to just mommy, because that is truly all I ever wanted, to just mommy...
So from one mother, who has lost so much time, to you mommy; put the phone away, shut down the social media sites. Take back your greatest achievement and be present, fully present with your blessings. Relearn how to give every day the best and end each night with your children drifting off with fun memories of YOU and them. Be content mothers to just mommy, because it will only last a short while, and that my dear friends is certain.
Your child is walking down a dark and narrow path, it is straight, but only a warm light is there to help guide your child on this path. The light feels safe, but the dark is full of unknowns. As your child is walking down this path a bright light of color shimmers on one side. Your child is curious, the light looks inviting and the path clear. The warm light on the path is overtaken by the bright light as your child walks closer to the bright path's entrance. The temptation of this path and its sure footing over takes you child and they step onto this new path. As they travel with the light so bright it is blinding, they don't realize the twist and turns they are making. Other people are on the path headed back the way they came, they beg your child to go with them, but your child is enjoying the path they are now on. After awhile your child starts to wonder where this path is going to lead and before they know it they hit a dead end. Turning around in circles, trying to shield their eyes from the light, they see they are not the only ones at the dead end. There are hundreds maybe even more. Some seem to be wandering around aimlessly while others seems to have given up on an escape and have curled up to die in a heap at the dead end. Your child begins to realize the mistake they made from wandering off the safe path they were on. Your child now sees the truth of what has happened. Lies and temptation have cornered your child and they know they must find a way back to the straight and narrow path. Before they go they try to get as many people as they can to follow them back. They are coaxing to them and at the end begging them to follow. Some listen and get up while most stay where they are, blinded, hopeless, or lifeless. Sadly your child makes their way back, twisting and turning. Suddenly there is a light so bright it is emitting warm heat, brighter then anything they have ever seen they close their eyes and follow the warmth it offers, back to the dark, straight and narrow path. Stepping back onto the true path and inching away from the other, the bright light goes out and what is left is the once again warm, dim light. Step by step, guiding your child to the end, where all things will be new and perfect. Behind your child, follows all the others they helped back onto the true path...
Good evening mommies!!! I am so excited because for the past two months I have not been able to upload any new pictures on my computer; which meant no new pictures for my blog post!!! But thanks to my awesome sister in law and a back door she knew about, I know can upload pictures again. Anyway, onto this week's blog post. This post weighed heavy on my last week. But without the picture to upload it would have been hard to explain in just written word. All good now though! So lets begin.
As you may remember, in a previous blog I had posted my loss of faith completely. Recently finding it again (thank God, literally, thank God) I began digging deeper and deeper into the Christian faith. What I came up with has prepared me for when my children leave the house and has given me further wisdom for my path as well.
In the above picture the cross represents our life. Birth until heaven, a straight but narrow line. This is a rough copy, fyi, I plan to make the final soon and will share it. Moving on. The path to heaven through Jesus as I said it straight and narrow, it is also dark. We constantly are walking in the unknown with the light of the Holy Spirit being our only means to see immediately in front of us. Along this path are numerous (I'm sure there are more then I drew) detours. These detours are bright and tempting but offer no warmth, promising a path better than the one we are on. It is a 100% guarantee that we will take at least one of these paths in our lifetime. The path will seem right at first but as it turns and twists it will begin to feel the opposite, cold and unfamiliar. Then we will hit a dead end, at that point we will see we were not the only one lead down this path. There will be numerous others at this dead end. At that point we have two choices. The first is to give up and stay at the dead end with no hope of returning to the living path. The second will be to fight through the crowds and make our way back to the path Jesus made for us.
But it doesn't stop there. No, we have the chance to bring people back with us (this could one day include our very own children)!!! We will beg and plead with the people at the dead end to follow us. Some will follow, most wont. They will choose to stay at the dead end, away from the true path, away from safety, away from the living, stuck in hell on earth. But we will get back on the right path, hopefully bringing others back with us.
Mothers we all have this path, we all have the same potential detours, we all want the same end... a life of eternity in heaven. We also don't want this for just us, or our family/friends, spouse... we want it for our children, so bad our hearts ache. As moms this can be a hard thing for us to be content with. Content you ask? Well yes, if we are not content with simply doing our best every day we will start taking a dead end path! The dead end path of fear, with the potential to leave us curled up in a ball at its end! We need to accept the fact that we can't keep our children in a bubble of safety while they are living with us. Think about that for a second, what will happen to them when they finally are on their own? If they are like me they will immediately hit the road for some of those dead end paths that are so tempting.
My sister in law and brother recently had dinner with us. During dinner they began to tell us about their 8 year old son and some of their newly developed concerns. They went on to tell us about some friends he has and the influences he is getting from them. Now, these kids aren't horrible kids, my sister in law said around them they are pretty darn good. But, there have definitely been some rub off of choice words, actions, etc. She expressed how concerned she was but also was confused as what to do. She didn't know if she should let them continue to play or sever the relationships. In the end we talked about it and I told her I was actually proud of her and my brother. They have decided to limited where playdates can happen and gone over why certain behavior will not be tolerated, but they are allowing them to be friends still. My nephew is learning a valuable lesson early in his life because of his parents. He is learning that there are paths that you can chose to go down that aren't always best and have consequences, but that he can also help others with these lessons he learns.
Let me give you an example. Lets take the "cussing" that my nephew did. My sister in law and brother talked to him about why that word can not be used and why it is hurtful and disrespectful. Okay, so two things could have happened. One, they tell my nephew he can't be friends with these boys anymore and those boys go on to continue their behavior, possibly getting new hurts from the loss of a friend. Or second, my nephew remains their friend and when they cuss, he can simply and gently tells them why he doesn't do it, when they see him not playing along. They could then (if God works on their hearts) start back to a better path, a more respectful path, because they have someone they could start looking up too, that has wisdom beyond his years. A friend, that wants to be friends even when they make a mistake.
Our children are predestined to help so many people. We have no idea the spider web of influence they are destined to spin. Our job is to be content in knowing this. Our job is to be content in knowing they will make mistakes, and if they are in the home, we will be there to correct them in love; if they are out of the house, that we did our job well enough, they will find their way back on their own with new disciples following them. Our job is to be content in knowing that God knows the outcome, He knows our heart, He knows our desires, He knows our longing for our children to make it home to heaven...
God allows evil in the world so that each person can use his free will to choose... To choose an eternal life of good or of evil, but that choice He leaves solely to us. But our immortal souls have only this short time to decide which world it wants to live in for eternity ~
I have never been one to meal prep. I literally stunk at it for the better part of... my LIFE! Until now that is. I have found a secret that all mothers will not just appreciate but will LOVE. It all stated with a reoccurring grocery bill, a bill that was pushing $300 every week!!! Gulp and pass out. Now this blog with be a little different for each one reading it. It all depends on your size family, but the results will be the same. Meal prepping this way will not only save you BIG bucks but it will also save you stress, anxiety, worry, frustration and lets be honest; what mother doesn't need less of those things in her life.
See, we are a growing family of five. Two ladies and three men. I say men because that is how my boys appetites will be here very shortly. Before we had kids I remember my husband and my budget was $50 a week. Ahhh! It was awesome, but then came the babies which weren't bad until they started eating solid food. From there it was a down hill spiral. But NOT ANYMORE!!! Below I am going to list the simple step you need to take to make your life easier and your bank account heavier.
Breakfast - same thing for the week
Lunch - same thing for the week
Dinner - same thing for the week
CHANGE MEALS & REPEAT!!!
That Was It And It Is Working!!!!
Now let me go into detail on this meal plan. Every week I pick a breakfast meal for the kids. This week is frozen waffles, mandarin oranges and chocolate milk (I have actually started letting the kids choose on some weeks which I'll explain later). Lunch is mac-and-cheese, green beans and bananas. Last for dinner is chili (a tradition for Halloween). So every day from Sunday until Saturday the family eats the same thing (for the most part. The hubs and I would be ... not healthy if all we ate was the mac-and-cheese, more on that later as well) and then we start over with something new the following week.
My Kids Wont Eat The Same Thing Every Day
WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!! Yes, there will be an adjustment period. I remember Leonidas choosing to go to bed instead of eating the same thing he didn't like again. However, now that they know this is their option they have all started eating what is served to them.
I Can't Eat What My Kids Eat
No problem momma. Simply use the same strategy on yourself. Lunch for my husband and I tend to be the hardest so I simply meal prep salads for us for the week. Salads are so diverse you can totally change them completely every week. Or, do something else that is better suited to your needs, just stick to the same routine.
What Will I Gain From This?
1. Forget rotten food and wasted money: Before this routine I would TRY to meal plan each day and each meal. I was literally running a restaurant for my kids. By mid week I was so exhausted that I would forget about the meal planning and order take out and the food would be forgotten. Eventually the food would go bad and I would throw unopened this and unopened that away.
2. Learning To Eat Leftovers: So my kids (and if I am being honest me too) hated left overs. They wanted something fresh and new every meal so left over meals would go bad and ... go into the trash. Now it is the norm for my kids and they eat it!!! I couldn't believe it, but it was true. By the end of the week left overs were gone, the fridge looked sparse, no wasted food!!!
3. Stress level dropped: Meal planning this way has drastically dropped my stress levels because I am only needing to plan for three meals (roughly, if I need something different it is 4). Grocery shopping is FAST! I use instacart which lowers my stress even less. Highly recommend the delivery or at least curb side pick up despite the slight up charge. Last is the stress relief of just popping dinner back in the oven to warm up or turning the crock pot back on, when that's done I am free to have down time or do whatever.
4. Budget Friendly (SERIOUSLY FRIENDLY): So remember I told you our average grocery bill was about $300 a week. With the new plan, and seeing the total in my cart BEFORE checking out (allows you to take off un-needed items if you are over budget) we have dropped our grocery bill down to $130-$150 a week. That is a HUGE difference. More money and less waste.
Last Minute Tips
1. When your children have gotten settled into this routine and accept it, let them help. Let them pick out one meal for the week (within reason); let them help cook it (my kids actually like whatever is made more if THEY help make it).
2. Don't go overboard!!! So our week looks like this, Sunday is the fresh meal of the week. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, (+\- Saturday depending on if grandparents invite us over) are the days we do the planned meal as a left over. Wednesday we are out late because of gymnastics so we eat out as a family. There is money for that (still try to eat at restaurants that offer deals for kids) now that our grocery bill is so much lower. Friday is our family fun night so we do whatever, eat out, fruity pebbles, frozen pizza, whatever (but don't make it another big dinner, something quick and fun!!!)
3. I told you about instcart and for our family it is the best fit, despite the small up charge (I just love not GOING to the store, less compulsive buying!!!); but for kicks and giggles I decided to give ALDI a try. You know, just to see. My total for the entire week of food was ... $60!!!!!!!!!!! If you can refrain from compulsive buying and stick to your list you WILL save more money going to the store yourself.
I hope you enjoyed this fun, off my normal, blog post. I would love for you to try this and get back with me on how you liked it!! You can do that by clicking any of the links below and leaving a comment. If you have a question about it feel free to ask and I'll get back to you. As mothers we shouldn't be so stressed over food and feeding everyone. It should be quick and easy so we can get back to what is really important. Living life with our families.
It has been the hardest few months of my life. I never knew the negative impact that social media could have on my naivety. Then to add insult to injury, being a mom who couldn't get help answering her questions from those who said they cared; yet without those questions answered she felt like she was lying to her children every day. But that is what happened and it has been the hardest journey to push on through.
By now you are wanting to know what possibly could I be talking about and why would it make me lose my faith? It all started when I was browsing through my twitter feed. I rarely do this, as I try to only be on social media to promote my blog, and to read about happy things. Seeing as there isn't much of that these days, more insult added to injury, I am just not on Twitter that much. But there I was scrolling down. A tweet came up, it was a tweet about a verse in the Bible not being in any Bible newer than the New King James version. Well naturally I had to see this for myself. Sure enough, the number for the verse was there in my NIV but not the verse that went with it.
My logic and reason started spiraling from that point on. First, I was naive about it and angry. I wanted to know why such context was removed from the Holy Bible (how can it be holy if it is being changed?). I had good willed friends and even a stranger point this upset mother to an article as to why this was happening. Unfortunately, the article paved the way for more questions. The article went on to say that it was doing this in newer Bible's to try and only put in original text and translations, something the New King James version and older failed. Apparently they had added to the so called Holy Bible. https://www.biblica.com/resources/bible-faqs/why-does-the-niv-bible-omit-or-have-missing-verses/ ( there are more then one of these links to confirm the reasoning).
This one seed of realization was beginning to eat away at my faith. The way that I saw it was, if the Bible could be altered by "so and so" because of "this and that" then ultimately the Bible is a very long story of telephone. For those moms that don't know this game, you basically say something in someone's ear and then they turn to the next person and say what they heard and so on and so on. By the time the last person says what the original person stated it is completely different. So, now doubt had begun to creep into my soul. If I couldn't believe every word of the Bible as true then what was true? And further more, it could now make it plausible (for the naive) to question whether God existed at all!!! Yep, there it is, I said it AND I meant it!! The doubt, logic and reason grew so strong that for about a month I doubted the existence of God Himself.
I know this sounds crazy after what I experienced at my Rachel's Vineyard retreat!!! And I HATED myself for it.
How could I believe what I experienced about my daughter, Adara and her brother, but doubt God's existence? Things were getting progressively worse to the point I was having a hard time praying with my kids at night because I felt I was lying to them. I felt like I was lying to them!!! Depression set in and so I pulled out the mask of "everything is okay" for my children. Again, the help I was needing and answers to questions that were making be LOSE my faith never came. I waited with silence from those who are suppose to help with this very thing. Then God put a memory in my head... (thank goodness someone cared enough for this poor mom). I do believe that despite my doubt, it was my concern for my children's eternal souls (you know, just in case, lol) and my continuing to read the Bible and pray (though it felt fake and empty for the first time in 36 years) were what saved me and opened my eyes.
Years ago, when my faith was strong but I was having the typical questions regarding God's sovereignty and why He allows bad things to happen, my sister gave me a book to read. I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist is the name of the book. This book is not like any other Christian book you will ever read. What kind of book is it? It is a hard book to read. It is a hard book to comprehend. It is a book all about SCIENCE! In this book the references to the Bible are few. One quote in the book got my attention (I had to wait until chapter 3). Who did God send me to help me with my doubt? Albert Einstein, who stated "Science WITHOUT religion is lame; religion WITHOUT science is BLIND." Read that again if you have to mommy. It means we NEED to use science to back up our faith because if our truth only comes from the Bible (that can be changed) then what will we do when our children question the faith? We need to have more. This book will give you that. In correlation with the book A Case For Faith you will not risk the chance of doubt eating at your faith. You will lose the lenses of naivety and see the TRUTH through more then blind faith.
In the end, thanks to God, I have my faith restored and am a WISER mom going forth for my children.
Today was the first time I was able to pray and read the Bible and feel somewhat connected to Him in several months. My sister recently told me something that really stuck with me.
A plant that lives in doors and cared for can't hold up to the wind. So now and then the caretaker will stick the plant outside in the wind for a little while to strengthen its weak stem... before returning it inside.
Moms, most of us are the same way. God cares for us inside the comfort of the norm, but to keep us strong enough to weather the storms, He will put us out of the comfort zone now and then. What an awesome God we serve! God knew that I needed more then blind faith to shoot my children out into the world someday with their faith strong. So He stuck me outside and let the wind blow me over but never let it fully break me; and now He is starting to return me safely to where He had me and I will be stronger now. When my children questions things in the Bible I am going to have the wisdom to answer back more then just "God's ways are not our ways".
As mothers we can sometimes think we have all the answers, but in truth we are still just children of God with a lot of learning left to do.
2 Peter 1:5-8 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ ~
Last night as I lay in my bed pondering what to write about and my thoughts racing, I started thinking about the house. I started thinking about the mess it was in. As the images of each room started to fill my head and make my anxiety rise I thought about what part of the mess was NOT my kids. I am not going to lie, part of it was mine. After picking up day in and day out of other peoples things I tend to get burned out and throw my hands up in the air and give up. But that is a small part. Then there is my husband. As I thought about his part in this mess I started thinking to myself about those particular messes.
See I know that my kids are growing up and will one day be out the door and I wont be cleaning up after them anymore. But, then there is my awesome husband whose mess I will continue to pick up until one of us is 6' deep. (Insert the mom's laugh from that 70's Show here). I will be honest, I started thinking about those things I would not have to deal with anymore if he left first. I wouldn't have to worry about the white socks that I find in the strangest places; the "worn once but not dirty" clothes that lie next to the bed and just accumulate would be gone; the packed suitcase from a trip this is still on the floor months after his return would never haunt my feet at night again (because it never fails if I have to go to the bathroom I will always hit it with my foot!). The list could go on and on! Facial hair after I clean the bathroom, dirty garage (to be fair, the kids are an equal part in that mess), dishes in the sink despite the dishwasher being empty. Pondering these things in the middle of the night would make any wife want to role over and punch her sleeping husband's arm.
Then I remembered my husband was asleep in with one of our boys because he had had a rough day and wanted his daddy. At that point new thoughts started coming to my mind. A huge thought was the reason I was currently awake with a mind racing...
1. Sleeping Alone
Now that I have been married for over 10 years I am so used to having him by my side. He is my comfort when I sleep (Because I am 36 and still afraid of the dark. Don't judge me. LOL). Not having him next to me at night leaves me with discomfort, it feels wrong not to have his strong body next to mine. And in the winter when I am freezing? Heck no! I love having him in bed with me. I have such a peace knowing he is right there if I need him. Without him I would probably die of sleep deprivation (there are no essential oils strong enough out there to change that). Ha!
2. Financial Responsibility
We have been blessed over the year with his career that I was able to retire after our daughter was born. I currently am homeschooling our three children as well as running this household. The thought of having to take on a full time job to keep us afloat if he wasn't here is a daunting thought. Homeschooling would probably have to go and that would crush both the kids and me. As the STRESS of it all being on my shoulders? Yikes!!!! Thank goodness, my husband sacrifices 80% of his year (that includes 6 hours a night for sleeping to recover and do it again mind you) to providing for us. Even right now, when it is very hard for him to find the motivation to go to work because the possibility of an upcoming sale of the company. He still gets up and takes that full weight onto his shoulders. Without him I would have to make that same sacrifice and if you couldn't tell yet, I am kind of selfish in these areas and DON'T want to do that.
3. I Would Have To Kill...Scorpions
Yep! That's right. If he wasn't here I would not only have to protect our home from thieves but also scorpions. Insert "barffing" emoji right here. I HATE HATE HATE scorpions, we have had 4 in the house this year and he has rescued me from all of them. Which also leads into the fact I would have to treat and spray the house for bugs! Lord knows I wouldn't make enough to hire someone to do it (Because that money is so much better used at Chick-fil-a to buy their new mac and cheese. Ha!). Without him the sole protection of our home would fall to me, whether it be human, natural disaster, or creepy crawlies.
4. I'd Have No Best Friend
Lance is my best friend in every way. He is my lover, he is my frustration, he is my comic relief (despite me almost killing that part of him when we were first dating), he is my annoyance, he is the one I do it all with, and the one I do non of it with. I would be alone without him. Yes, I would have my children and friends and family, but it would not be the same. My children would grow and move on with their lives, stopping by here and there. My family would do the same and friends can be in and out in a matter of weeks. Without him I would be lonely.
So why on a mommy blog page did a write about this? Well for starters, without my husband I wouldn't be a mommy. LOL. But also, because I realized (and deep down I already knew) that I love my life with my husband. He is a strong (yeah, I mean physically, sizzle), funny, handsome (yeah baby!), caring, loving, supportive, and helpful husband. Sure, he can drive me crazy sometimes, but so do my children, my family, my friends, heck even myself at times!
I remember a story a long time ago of a group of old ladies sitting on a porch having tea. One of the ladies is talking about her husband going inside her house tracking some dirt onto the floor from his boots. The other ladies scoff and gripe about how they would never let their husband get away with that. The owner sadly looks down at her tea and tells them how that used to be with her husband and how he had passed away and she would do anything to have him walk through her door again with dirt on his boots.
Remember how I told you I was a selfish person at times? Well here is the proof. I hope and pray that I die first. I don't want to live on this earth without my protector, comedic relief, financial provider, and best friend right there with me. To some of you, you may be scoffing and thinking that I don't know what I am missing. Or that I have no independence. I would tell you, you are wrong. I worked at a prestigious veterinary oncology facility as their lead nurse before I retired. I owned my own home and car and paid all my own bills. I killed all my own home intruders (only bugs I promise). I had dogs that slept in my bed with me. But I was still lonely! So I am telling you, I don't EVER want to go back to that spot in my life. It was good while I had it but being with my husband is SOOOO much better. I love him and cherish him, even when I find a pair of his socks on the fireplace mantle (True story). He is my best friend and I don't want to do a single day of life without him. So God, I'll go first if you don't mind (unless you want to let us go together, perfectly fine with that too. Ha!)
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other one up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken ~
I watch as you open your suitcase and start placing things inside. So tenderly you fold everything so they are just right as you lay them down. You have a calm and subtle smile on your face as you look at a picture in a simple frame. But the memory of that picture is a strong one, one you'll remember forever. Despite your bag being full you gently lay the picture under a layer of clothing. It will be needed for this trip, it will give strength when strength waivers.
As I continue to watch you, you peacefully go through your house tidying up to make sure there is no mess left behind. The last of the drying dishes you put away in the cabinet. Quietly you go through the whole house making sure to shut off all the lights. Yes, you are very sure everything is in order, leave things better then you found them. That is what you were taught.
I keep asking you if you have to take this trip. Why now? Why can't you wait a little longer? Tears well up in my eyes as I look at you, confused and hurt. This doesn't seem right, you shouldn't be going so far away. You gently kiss the top of my head where grey hair has replaced the blond. Years of love poured out and given to those I cherished most. You tell me you will miss me but how excited you are to take this trip. You go on and tell me that you have been waiting and that you know I wanted to take this trip first, but life is never predictable. You tell me everything is going to be okay and then you turn and start walking away.
I call after you that you forgot your suitcase. You look over your shoulder with the childlike grin you used to give me when you were young and tell me it was never meant to go with you. I look down at the suitcase puzzled by the response, when I look up you are gone. I look up and down the street but you are nowhere in sight. I look down again and slowly unzip the suitcase.
Inside I see the clothes you packed. Your suit from your wedding, your costume from a play in college, your football jersey from high school, your baby blanket from the day I brought you home. I smell in the blanket deeply and my eye catches the picture you packed. I pull it out and see myself holding you right after you were born.
I weep like a child, there in the street, oblivious to who is watching. My soul aches for you to be there when I look back up. My heart is breaking. It wasn't mean to be like this, I was the one who was to take the trip first. But as I sit rocking, holding what's left of your presence, a gentle peace washes over me. As hard as this will be I have peace in where you went. I have peace in knowing it wont be forever. I have peace in knowing God needed you home first...
As mothers there is no greater fear then the thought of God calling our children home before us. It haunts our dreams, it causes endless gray hairs on our heads, and no matter how old our children get that fear persists. That has now become the reality my grandparents are facing with their youngest son, my uncle. Most families are probably not that close, or there have been several members that have gone on home to heaven already, or some other example.
Well let me tell you about my family. We ARE close! We don't all live in the same town or even the same state, but we are close non the less. In fact I am almost 40 years old and other then one grandfather when I was 20 I have not lost a single family member. I am so grateful for that, but it scares me too. I know that the odds are starting to pack up against me and loved ones will be heading to their forever home soon. But I was still not ready to accept that even when I heard it from my dad's lips.
I will never forget where I was. Sitting watching my son practice at his gymnastic's facility I heard my phone ring. I never handle anything well when my dad is choking up, and this was no exception. "Your uncle Monte... your uncle Monte has... has pancreatic cancer." The anguish in my dad's voice at the news of his baby brother was heart breaking. This uncle, my uncle Monte is the comic relief in our family. He always has been. He was always the one growing up that would entertain us with songs or silly voices or sledding or tag. If there was fun going on at my grandparent's house it was my uncle's doing. He is the goof ball of the family and all his nieces and nephews love him for it.
My uncle got his family later in life then most. But they are an amazing family! They have been through so much and have put God in the heart of every decision, every obstacle that came their way. He wife Missy is sweet and caring and adores him. I have never seen my uncle happier then I have since the day he married her. They share a special bond that few other couples know. As a blended family they never faltered with their faith in God. All family's have ups and downs to go through, but my uncle and his wife tackled them together as a team. She gives him such life! My favorite picture below is the one to the right. Can you see the look on my aunt's face and I can tell my uncle has the same smile on his face as she does. United as one, lovers, with God at their core.
My uncle has three older siblings. They are all close but have not always gotten along. It is important as mothers to remember that no matter how hard we try, our children are going to have issues with each other. These issues will usually not be resolved with us in their face's telling them to work it out. In the later years our best tool for these relationship is to pray for them. My uncles and aunts I have watched over the years connect and then disconnect. I have seen pretty much every behavior happen in their adult years as I have in my children's young ages. Siblings will always be siblings. As mothers it is important to instill in them the importance of the bond that is their relationship; that way there is always someone to fall on in tears, rejoice with in good times, and every now and then diagree (strongly).
At our core, we are family; and when one member is going through something we all are. We go through it together and support and help each other, because that is what family does. When something like a new baby is born, we rejoice. When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, we cry. There is nothing weak about it, it is in these times our family's strength truly shines through.
The last thing I will tell you about my uncle, before I tell you why this post is important to you, is his love for his daughter. He is a hero to her. Whether she sees it yet or not, he is. I have watched him love her, be firm with her, and hold her when she is sad. He has been there for her even when at times life made it hard. He cherishes her, a gift from God, for him. If every dad could be so present for his daughter what a wonderful world it would be.
So by now you are probably wondering how this pertains to you. As mothers we must remember that even as our children grow we still need to cherish any time they will spare for us. Even when they marry and move on to start a new branch of the family's legacy we need to still be there. They will want and need to ask for advice, and we need to share our wisdom with them. When they have their children, we need to be there. We need to help them when they ask for help babysitting; or if we know they are stressed, invite them over for dinner so they don't have to cook. If we live far away then we need to travel while our bodies still allow us to. As mothers we need to keep the family united as best we can, even when our children are adults and don't agree with each other's political views or how they raise their children. Pray for them, with the hopes that once you are gone, they will go on loving each other and supporting each other. And heaven forbid, if God should call one of our children home before us, we have so many happy memories made that when the devil tries to slither in feelings of guilt or regret, we can pull up one of those beautiful memories to fall back on.
I don't know what the future holds for my uncle Monte. I don't know when God will call him home; I am praying expectantly that he will be so old that he drives a little buggy around so wildly he gets glares from young people he almost runs over (because that would be my uncle). What I do know is this. My uncle is going to heaven someday, and if that is sooner, then heaven is preparing an awesome celebration for him! But for the rest of us, it will hurt. For my gandparents, I can not imagine the pain, but the rest of us will be there to be a shoulder for them to cry on. It isn't the people leaving for this trip that it's sad for; (For my uncle would be partying it up with his famous "You're old, you're old, you're old" song in heaven) it's knowing we can't see them again on this earth, and that is the most painful part about death. So mothers, please remember, in the end we are all packing for this ultimate trip with a suitcase full of memories that will not go with us. Instead it will be tenderly left behind to help in comforting those we loved.
Pslam 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever ~
DEDICATED TO MY AWESOME UNCLE MONTE WHO IS FIGHTING CANCER WITH THE STRENGTH OF GOD AND THE HUMOR THAT IS PART OF HIS LOVING CHARACTER
I am asking for prayers from anyone who reads this for my family and my uncle. Prayers that my uncle receives complete healing and that God plans on letting him grow really, really, old. Prayers that my family be covered in peace and grow even stronger in our relationships with each other. Thank you.
Strategy 10: Attacking Your Relationship With Your Children (Don't Let The Devil Steal Your Motherhood)
If I were your enemy, I'd work to create division between you and your children. I would seek to dissolve any potential your children and you could make uniting against me. I would scheme to make you operate individually, blinding you and your children from the truth of how much you need each other. Strength in family and unity of purpose… I would not allow things like these to go unchecked ~
Lord have mercy! God never fails to have me walk through the fire I am talking about. This finale post of "Don't Let The Devil Steal Your Motherhood" fits right into life right now. We currently are not having the attack, but I fear it is brewing and gearing up depending on a large decision that needs to be made.
Last week, Leonidas, my middle child, the one always placed on the back burner, sweet and STRONG son, was invited to join the competitive team for his gymnastics. There is a testing period; a test of strength and a test of endurance, four test total. He has passed 3/4 above average. Here is my dilemma, to commit to this path for him would mean extreme sacrifices for everyone else in the family. Ten hours of practice a week, eight state competitions all over Florida, in a nutshell this road would take up 1/7 of our year. And it is an every year commitment. The cost is staggering in itself, but the time is the more pressing concern. This week the other two have already been voicing objections to having to "go and be bored" at his classes. If you haven't noticed this is a Thursday post because I couldn't get to my blog yesterday, it has already begun changing the family dynamics and routines.
I am afraid of this commitment. I am afraid this will hurt our family, but I am afraid I am being selfish to hold my little Grunt back for an amazing opportunity... So this brings us to today's blog, and the already present attacks the devil makes against our relationships with our children.
Did this scare you? IT SHOULD!!! Satan has no plans for you to love let alone speak to your children in the end. He is here for one purpose in your calling of motherhood. One purpose for your children and you… to lie, destroy and kill ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that pulls you
and your children to Jesus and to each other. And that is seriously scary stuff. The gospel we believe in was and is meant to be shared TOGETHER, both the giving and receiving of grace, inspiring each of us to strive for a relationship with our children that shines outwards to others and draws them in. So lets fight back!
Step 1: Pray WITH Your Children
We have plenty of other strategies that we can pray on our own time. But Satan is after our relationship with our children NOW. Get them in on the fight! Start disciplining them in how to fight back. There is no time to wait. Pray with them about anything and everything. Let them speak from their hearts to our Father even if their prayers are, lets face it, sometimes petty. You can be sure, our Father is smiling in love for their words to Him. Let them also hear our prayers. That is how, as they age they will learn how powerful we can be with God always there.
Philippians 2:2-4 - Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely
look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Step 2: Communicate WITH Your Children
"Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." I DON'T THINK SO!!! Words do hurt. If they didn't then the statistics for suicide, divorce, etc would be way lower. A friend of mine had her nephew try to hang himself at the age of 9 because of words. Words can and do hurt. It is the devil's biggest weapon against us. Not only can he influence people to say hurtful things, but even if what they say isn't hurtful; he can manipulate the receiver into thinking they heard something entirely different. So use his own weapon against him, talk with your children. When something they say is hurtful talk to them about it. Try to find out if the words they are using match the way they are feeling. If they do seek the Bible for guidance on how to help them resolve those feelings. If we do this then they will be open with us when we have said or done something to hurt them.
Hebrews 10:24-25 - Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Step 3: Grow YOUR Army
We want to have Satan scared. We want to have his tools against us useless. Because if we can have peace in a Christlike relationship with our children, then we are creating witnesses. Now we are moving as one body, with one purpose. Now we have strength in numbers. Our children, like us, were born to be warriors. Each one has a very strategic purpose that God needs them to fulfill. We need to be their
commanders. They need to have such a strong relationship with us that when the devil tries to attack they know God and their mothers are right there to back them up. Teach them now! Teach them how to fight Satan right this minute.
Psalm 18:32-34 - The God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
So now I must weigh the options before me, carefully praying for wisdom to see where the devil will attack in both outcomes, how I will fight the attacks, how in the end (no matter what) my relationship with my children stays strong as well as their relationship with EACH OTHER; because one day I wont be here and they will still need each other.
Isaiah 41:10 - Fear not, for I am with you: be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand~
FINAL BATTLE STRATEGY: PRAYER ROOM - EVEN IF YOU CAN'T CLEAN OUT AN ENTIRE ROOM OR CLOSET, FIND A SECRET PLACE TO PUT YOUR MOST URGENT PRAYERS. VISIT IT EVERY DAY. SEEK THE LORD IN THIS PLACE AND WATCH YOUR LIFE CHANGE.
MATTHEW 6:6 - BUT WHEN YOU PRAY, GO INTO YOUR ROOM, CLOSE THE DOOR AND PRAY TO YOUR FATHER, WHO IS UNSEEN. THEN YOUR FATHER, WHO SEES WHAT IS DONE IN SECRET, WILL REWARD YOU
Are you ready mommy? Are you ready to take your weapons into battle and reclaim your motherhood? Reclaim your calling?
Credit and quotes from Fervent and the Holy Bible
If I was your enemy, I'd use every opportunity to bring old wounds to mind, as well as the people, events, and circumstances that caused them. I'd try to ensure that your heart was hardened with anger and bitterness. Shackled through unforgiveness, because then I could use your heart to corrupt your children. I could make them see that the God their parents talk about is not strong enough to keep their hearts obedient. That in the end, unforgiveness is the ultimate satisfaction to a wound ~
It is so good to be back! I certainly needed the week off to regroup, but I am so glad to be back at it, doing something I love, writing! So, this opening was a big pill to swallow. Forgiveness or a bitter heart, two very different roads to take with two very different outcomes. About four and a half years ago we moved in with my husbands parents. Prior to moving in I had had ups and downs with them, but for the most part we had a good relationship. Well, it is so true what they say about moving in with your spouse's parents. It didn't take long for the arrows to go flying. I never dreamed things could get as bad as they did. Despite my husband standing up for me the entire time, we moved out with our relationship with them severed. I can honestly say that I hated my mother in law at that point. The bitterness in my heart (whether justified by her actions or not) had gotten so strong it was painful. I am ashamed to say that I wished she would die.
It took a few months of prayer and fasting before I was able to truly forgive her. I don't mean I said I forgave her and went on my way. I mean a Holy Spirit intervention, eye opening, heart melting, forgiveness and it felt so WONDERFUL! I said before that my relationship with them was good, well it went from good to great. God turned a bad situation for good, for His glory.
The devil does not want this to happen. He wants us to hold onto our bitter hearts, he wants the hate to fester, the walls to be made stronger and thicker around us. He wants us to use validation for our unforgiveness. The devil wants us to stay on that high horse of righteousness. To stay in the mind set of, "They wronged me", and this is a sly tactic that twists the heart, knots it up, cuts off the blood flow. Validation ultimately will kill the heart. He will use our mind against us. Once the devil has BEGUN the work of killing our heart he then begins to attack our mind. We try to pray but it seems as if the prayers are hollow and dull. We start to feel like praying is just a "going through the motions" routine instead of actually communicating with a friend. And then he will let the seeds of anger and bitterness that are there fester and grow. Once the devil has control of our heart and mind things spiral out of control. We become easily offended to everything, even to our Father. This is because we feel like he isn't hearing, let alone answering our prayers. Whoever tries to help soften our heart we will take offense to as well. The devil will yell into our ears, "They don't know what happened, they don’t know how I feel, they don't understand how wrong it was, they need to mind their own business, they are trying to make me out to look like the one that needs to forgive!" Any of these sound familiar?
When we choose to forgive someone, we're not wiping their actions away as if the bad things never happened, giving people a free pass from the HARM they've caused. Instead we're just sparing ourselves the burden of working two extra jobs - being judge and jury for how justice is meted out in this situation. Give it to the One who knows what he is doing. Someone who is waiting to talk with us. Every single person in these pictures has hurt me, wounded me, and I had to forgive them for my sake not theirs. And I do mean everyone, even my children... even myself. And each time I have done so I have felt the sweet release of it all and I have been filled with peace and calm afterwards, at times even a "Holy Spirit High" as my pastor likes to call it. But it is no easy battle to win, like all good things of God usually are. How we fight back: His forgiveness, my friend… is freedom. His forgiveness. His forgiveness of us makes our forgiveness possible towards others! So lets break it down into steps.
Step 1: HONEST Prayer
Do what? When we go to Him with our request He can see our deepest, darkest, intentions. The kinds that have us praying one thing, yet deep down we aren't committed to the prayer. We had lived with my in-laws for almost 2 years. Things between us got so bad that to salvage any part of the relationship we moved into my parent's house for the last couple of months. My mother in law did things that I wanted justice for. When I would pray, deep down I did not want to forgive her. Then one day I prayed honestly to God. Spilled the darkest spots of my heart. Told Him I didn't want to forgive her, that I wanted her to pay for what she had done, that I hated her and despised her. Yeah, I held nothing back, gave my knotted heart to Him. Day by day, knot by knot asking Him to undo it.
Palm 34:18-19 - The Lord is near to those whose hearts are HUMBLE. He saves those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person has many troubles, but the Lord rescues him from all of them.
Step 2: Accept Resistance
This is not some easy quick cure resurrection. We are restarting a dead heart. It is going to hurt. We are going to resist the freedom. We are going to fight the peace God is offering us. But… since we were honest with our prayers we have done the work of giving the knots out of heart over to the one who can do all things; God is going to start our heart again with the blood of Jesus. It will seem impossible that the feelings we feel could ever part from us. But they will! I promise they will. I remember I was in church with my pastor preaching on forgiveness to those we love. I remember talking to God right there saying "Well what if you don't love them? What if you hate them?" As clear as a bell God answered, "Because you are to love all my creations. Hate is of the devil." And before my eyes flashed a newborn baby girl, it was a picture I had once seen of my mother in law. That innocent baby was who I am called to love. That was it, I forgave her right then and there! It felt so blissful, so peaceful, so joyous. Like a stone going through a glass window and shattering it. I WAS FREE!!!
Psalm 103:12 - As far as the east is from the west - that is how far he has removed our rebellious acts from himself
John 13:34-35 - I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other in the same way that I have loved you. Everyone will KNOW that YOU are my disciples because of your love for each other
Step 3: Enjoy Freedom
Forgive, not because it is ever easy but because our enemy gets exactly what he wants from us otherwise. He wants us cold hearted, because it allows him to start spreading out to our husbands and to our children with corrupted seeds. When we chose to forgive we are plating the most POWERFUL seed we can into our children. Our savior died so OUR SINS may be forgiven. We have no right to deny others forgiveness and in being obedient to this our Father will open the flood gates of heaven for us! I am at total peace now because of my forgiveness to my mother in law. We certainly do not have the same relationship we had prior to moving in with them. But ultimately I think that is for the best. She certainly has things she needs to work on, but now that my heart is alive again I can pray for her and for her heart as well. It has improved my marriage with my husband because he has watched my struggle from beginning to end. My children will one day know the story when they are old enough but for now I can guide them in forgiveness as one that has done the forgiving. I am no longer a hypocrite to my children, I am living proof.
Romans 6:6-7 We know that the person we used to be was crucified with him to put an END to sin IN OUR BODIES. Because of this we are no longer slaves to sin. The person who has died has been freed from sin
If any of this is speaking to you. If you are feeling like your heart is hardened and you want it set free again. Those feeling to be removed, then I am praying for you sweet momma, but you must also set aside your pride. Step down from your high place in that cold heart of yours before it plants seeds into your children that you don't want planted. Step down and let the Holy Spirit take His rightful place there and watch the shell of bitterness crack and fall away. Know that you are loved mom! You are so loved, I love you, your family loves you, and your God loves you. He loves you so much He wants to take away the hurt so surrender it to Him and find your freedom.
John 8:32, 8:36 - You will KNOW the truth, and the truth will set you free. So if the Son sets you free, you will be absolutely free ~
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If I were your enemy, I'd make everything seem urgent, as if it's all yours to handle. I'd bog down your calendar with so many expectations you couldn't tell the difference between what's truly important and what's not. Guilty for ever saying no to your children, trying to keep everything under control, when really you're just being controlled by it all (including at times, your children as well). If I could keep you busy enough, you'd be too overwhelmed to even realize how much work YOU ARE SAVING ME FROM DOING! ~
I am not going to lie. I don't feel like writing today. I know each and every one of you have been there. Doing something you don't want to do but know (or at least feel) like it is an absolute necessary. Now, I am lucky for the fact that I love writing, but even that still has me wondering if I should take this week off from it....
But since I have started I am going to continue and if for some reason there is not a new post next week, you will know why. I simply needed to rest my writer's mind. Until then, though, lets get started with this week's strategy. Did the opening war strategy hit you in your gut? Did you recognize it as if I were talking directly to you? If so I pray this week's post gives you hope and a new strategy of your own. If I had to guess, it would be every single mom out there has a hard time fighting off the attacks of "busyness". Our motherly nature to nurture our young is overwhelming. Even in most animals the case is still the same. Never to have time to rest, always needing to provide; whether food, shelter, entertainment and the list goes on and on. So how does the devil get us to put our times of rest aside?
First, he will lay on the pressure... that's it! The one and only form of attack. Pressure to do for our children what they might be able to do for themselves or even to pressure to accept that they learn that their daily lives being full of joy depends on mommy having some down time. There are sub categories to the pressure for sure. Because as we all know it's not only our children that are pressuring us, but a whole assembly line of them. Pressures from our husbands, our bills, our family members, our friends, our priorities, our self image, our future, our homes, and on and on and on it goes. So to make it easier lets break the pressure into three subcategories.
One, is the pressure to be the perfect parent. This is the strongest one in most of our lives currently, and I stress currently. Our children adore us, love us unconditionally when they are young. But their constant demands for attention, affection, knowledge and even discipline can drain us as mothers. We literally can play with them on the floor for an hour, get up to go to the bathroom for two minutes and they are attacking us at the door like it has been a week since we acknowledged them! Some days it seems like a losing battle with the "more, more, more" demands they give us. And the devil has no problem playing on our nature. He will make us feel beyond guilty, like horrible mothers if we tell them to go away while we are in the bathroom. Thoughts enter our mind like, "I'm selfish, I'm hardhearted" OR "they wont always want to bother me when I am in the bathroom." You know what? GOOD!!! There is a point, no matter how brief when we need to let our children know they can't have 100% of mommy's time.
Next, is the pressure to be the perfect person to everyone else. This goes for our husbands, parents, siblings, friends, bosses, even church family. Every time we choose yes to something it cost us. Whether it be energy, time, happiness (note that I didn't say joy), money, or devotion. It doesn't matter, everything in this life has a price. When we feel the guilt of the word "yes" play on our hearts, we are accepting the cost, whatever it may be, willingly. My father is a great example of this. He has a horrible time saying "no" to anyone. It can get so bad that he has to cancel or in some cases even lie as to why something didn't work out. The devil uses this pressure tactic on him so much that it not only drains him, but hurts people around him. It cost him honor to his word, relationships, and most importantly, rest. When we can not put our priorities in order, and one of those has to be rest, we become slaves to our lives instead of our lives working for US.
Last, the pressure to do it all. Okay fellow mommies, let's be honest. Do you...pay the bills, clean the house, take out the trash, make the important phone calls, primarily raise the children, help your husband, do the laundry, do the dishes, make the plans, do the grocery shopping, and insert anything else you like? If you said no to even some of these go home and give your husband a big kiss and say thank you and pat yourself on the back for have the self control do let him. We are under SO MUCH pressure to do it all!!! It NEVER in the Bible anywhere says we are to do it all by ourselves. Mankind has needed help in everything from the beginning of time. Even Adam couldn't do it by himself so God gave him Eve to work together, to share in everything. And don't think for one second Eve could have done it without Adam. Why do you think the devil was so sly in making sure to tempt Eve? Had the devil tempted both of them together the outcome could have been very different. Accountability can count for everything. But because we do live in this fallen world we feel our busyness can be turned into a badge of honor. It is why we are so rarely satisfied with where we are or what we have, always fearing we won't be enough. Well guess what? We are being bullied by a liar. Intimidated by the enemy's cruel application of pressure against us. But not anymore!
Okay, so lets learn how to fight back. The first step is actually going to be different then all the others. Remember that the outline for my series came from the book "Fervent" as well as the quotes (for the most part, I did tweek them to target us mothers specifically). But this change is because these steps are involved, detailed, and invasive. They will make you really look into your life, not only the lit up places but also the dark places.
Step 1: Take Inventory
We need to take inventory of the pressures in our lives. We can do this by simply checking our schedule for patterns where we are being enslaved to things that are not truly critical or as indispensable as they seem. This could be too may activities for the kids throughout the week as one example. If we are so pressured to give our kids these activities but then sit there and are short tempered and irritable on those days what messages are we sending our children? We need to check our motivations as to why we are saying yes to so many things. Check to make sure the places or people who overloaded our time are not working their way into a status of idolatry. Check to make sure we aren't trying to keep up with the Jones'. The devil had no problem enslaving us to GOOD things, in fact he prefers it because it is harder for us to recognize. So don't let the pressures of life become idols. Here's how we know if we are in danger of that:
1. The pressure to preform, for example, often means we've made an idol of our reputation.
2. The pressure to maintain a ridiculously jam-packed schedule becomes an idol of self-reliance.
3. The pressure to maintain an impressive standard of living becomes the idol of achievement.
4. The pressure to take on everything in which our children show even the slightest interest becomes our children being the idol!
***ANYTHING CAN BECOME AN IDOL, GOOD OR BAD, JUSTIFIED OR NOT, GOOD INTENTIONS OR NOT***
Psalm 119:36-37 Direct my heart toward your written instructions rather than getting rich in underhanded ways. Turn me eyes away from worthless things. Give me a new life in your ways.
Step 2: Pray
Now that we know where our reasons for lack of time to rest are coming from it is time to turn to our Father. We must ask of Him to lay upon us real discernment because some of these determinations can be subtle and hard to spot. A free woman (whether a wife, daughter or mother) possesses the God-given ability to know when He is truly asking her to do something - as well as the God-given ability to know when He is NOT. But it requires fervent prayer to give us this power.
Matthew 6:33 Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.
Step 3: Applying It
We can now discern when we need to work and when we need to rest. We can now begin to give obedience to our Father by resting so that he can further mold us into the mothers He called us to be. A free one. A rested one. A contented one. The devil may get the best of us sometimes, but he will still walk away with some new, deep battle scars to remember who he is messing with. But that can not happen unless we actively start resting. Mark it in our calendars. Tell people when they ask for something, "I would love to, but I have a meeting I have to go to." because we do! We have a meeting with God where all he wants is for us to rest by his side. It can be something as simple as a nap. Seek out the rest, learn to crave it. Teach our children to want it. This week I have implemented a new thing with our children. I have already implemented quiet time with our children, but they don't always like it. So now I tell them the quiet time is so they can talk to God and it's quiet enough for them to hear Him. They can still play in their rooms but it gives them a new sense of how to talk to God and how they can hear Him better.
James 1:25 However, the person who continues to study God's perfect laws that make people free and who remain committed to them will be blessed. People like that don't merely listen and forget; they actually do what God's law says.
Alright, I know this was a very long one. But it was so important and I needed to get it to you. Two more to go and we will conclude this series!
Psalm 23: 1-3 The Lord is my shepherd. I am never in need. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside peaceful waters. He RESTORES my soul ~
*** URGENT/ATTENTION: DUE TO WEEBLY'S NEW ALGORITHM CHANGES I NO LONGER CAN SEE VIEWS UNLESS THE PERSON HAS COOKIES TURNED ON. I AM ALSO NOT SEEING COMMENTS EITHER. UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, SO I CAN CATER TO MY READERS, PLEASE CLICK ON ONE OF THE BELOW PLATFORMS AND LEAVE YOUR FEEDBACK THERE. LET ME KNOW HOW YOU LIKED THE POST, IF IT WAS TOO LONG OR TOO SHORT, WHATEVER IT IS. I AM RELYING ON YOU, AS MY READER, TO LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU ARE WANTING TO READ SINCE I CAN NOT LONGER SEE IT FOR MYSELF. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT! ***
Gruesome imagery isn't it? If your a mom, heck if you are human, you have probably had to deal with your share of parasites in life. Those creepy, crawly creatures that make you squirm in your seat. I love blogging, but I must admit there are times when God's sense of humor I do not find funny. Two weeks ago I found a parasite on my daughter. I was mortified that my precious baby girl could have something so... well we will just leave this part blank. LOL. I could have acted in many different ways to this discovery, but I remained calm, rolled up my sleeves and with my husband we took care of the unwanted creatures.
The devil has his own set of parasites he sends our way, but unlike the animal parasites, he has disguised his parasites as something so tempting to the eye we can't resist. There are three very important things to remember when it comes to the devil. One, he has sharp precision. The devil is not some half baked, want to be, fighter. He is ruthless, smart, and unrelenting. When he attacks us, it is not a random arrow pointed at a random part of us. No! It is a deadly arrow aimed straight at our hearts, minds and souls. The mere definition of precision is the quality, condition, or fact of being EXACT and ACCURATE. So he is strategizing to "hit you where it hurts". Second, he loves personalization. As we discussed in attacks against your family regarding our children; the devil knows both our strengths and weaknesses. He is going to personalize these parasites to us specifically. He will make us think that slithering, vile, repulsive parasite is the shiniest, most desirable bit of unclaimed satisfaction we've ever seen. And without a battle plan we will justify embracing the parasite with excuses like, "I've been so stressed with the kids", "I deserve this after what kind of day the kids put me through", "It doesn't hurt the kids if I do it", "They need to learn mommy needs to indulge sometimes". Any of those sounding familiar? Lastly, the devil has perfect persistence. Yeah, this one is a kick to the gut. This one means that even if you can beat him 1 time, 5 times, 10 times IT WONT MATTER! He is going to keep coming after us time and time again, never ceasing, always looking for the in; changing the appearance of the parasite to trick us into embracing it again. He will wait for the right time - the moment when we are most weakened and susceptible to attack. Days when the kids have been fighting, days when there seems to be more vomit stains on the floor then actual clean floor, days when we try and try to see the silver lining in our children's constant demands but grow weary. He will be there waiting to be welcomed in.
Parasites weaken our prayers which in turns weakens our power! The energy given by the Holy Spirit and our prayers to access and generate is cut off, choked out, bottlenecked. We are leaking our power and it will drain from us so that we don't stand a fighting chance. The parasite will start off seeming "normal", with the lie that nobody is getting hurt if we only embrace the parasite from time to time. And then when the damage is done we can't expect to cry out to God with our wrong when we don't do anything to change the environment in which the parasite lurks.
Prayers that have power come from a person in pursuit of righteous living. Purity leads us to fervent prayer, and fervent prayer leads us to purity. Make our victories as mothers become an everyday occurrence, the norm rather than the exception.
The pictures above list just a few things that God wants us to use for good, but if we are not wearing our armor, then the devil will corrupt and turn into personal parasites. God WANTS us full of power and confident as mothers. He wants us free to bless and encourage our children. He wants us to become such powerful warriors for our children and Him, that to the devil we look like sticks of dynamite. We want him so terrified of us that when we put our FIRST foot on the ground in the morning he is running to the pit of hell. So how can we do this?
Step 1: Prayer
When we pray in this area we must leave everything at the feet of Jesus. It's not like we can hide it from Him anyway, but it shows humble obedience when we specifically and individually name our parasites. Unmasking them, bringing them into the light which they HATE! Personally for me, my two biggest ones CURRENTLY are poor eating and compulsive buying. Though a few months ago I would have to say social media was on the list (and I'm sure without a careful eye, it could creep in again).
2 Peter: 2:9 - The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation
Step 2: Read the Word
In order for us to actively fight off parasites that are masked as pleasure we need to read the Bible to decode how to see the temptations the devil sets specifically for us. We need to truly be the stick of dynamite that inside is filled with the Word so that when he tries to mess with us we can fire a blast of our Father's own words right back at him! If prayer is our lifeline, then the Bible is our ammo. Don't be afraid or offended by it. Our Father loved us so much that He gave us a physical, tangible gift to guide us in battle. Light your tongue on fire with those words and let it blow up in the devil's face.
1 Corinthians 10:13 - No temptation has over taken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to ENDURE IT!
Step 3: Fellowship
This war was never meant to be fought by ourselves. It takes us, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. But there is one key tool that we must take advantage of and that is fellowship. Fellowship is more then just a friendship. Fellowship is a friendly association, ESPECIALLY with people who SHARE one's interest. A synonym for fellowship is support. These people should believe in Jesus and our Father. These people are people who we can be transparent with, even about our deepest and darkest secrets. the reason for this is ACCOUNTABILITY! When we have true fellowship, in a world where Satan is usually a lot louder then the whisper of our Father is, it allows us to have someone to hold us accountable when we want to indulge with our parasites. They are our sisters and brothers in Christ. Warriors just like us. They want what is best for us just as God does. Whether it is in a small group, a church, a mommy group, etc. If they know when we are putting our parasites before our children it will in turn makes us stronger to resist because we know they will call us out on it.
Hebrews 10:24-25 - We must also consider how to encourage each other to show love and to do good things. We should not stop gathering together with other believers, as some of you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming.
Step 4: Change The Environment
Almost finished, promise! We know that devil is matriculate in his strategies. We also know that he is patient in waiting for the right moment to strike. So, to mess up his plans and throw him off his game we must be willing to change the environment in which the parasite hides. Back in November of last year, I was drinking way to much. I was using the excuse of my kids to do it. Alcohol had become a parasite for me. So I changed the environment. I stopped buying alcohol and my husband supported me by doing the same. This parasite is no longer welcome in my body and if temptation arises I remove myself from its presence. In strategizing our obedience as diligently as the enemy is strategizing those temptations, we have to be willing to make the sacrifices to keep them out of our home. The flesh is magnetically drawn toward the allure of temptation. So we can NOT simply try to disguise it until we "think" it's a good time to indulge. We need to eliminate it from our daily lives. Gulp! What will happen if we don't? Well we know there will be consequences, and that the consequences are never minimal. The waves of our choices will ripple outward from our hearts, minds and souls to our bodies...and then pass on to our children (Num. 14:18, Exodus 20:5, Deu. 5:9). Our children are watching us, as mothers it is our duty and obligation to protect them, even from ourselves. So tell them your weaknesses, let them help you stay accountable, and watch your bond with your children grow stronger!
Romans 6:12-14 - Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. FOR SIN SHALL NOT BE MASTER OVER YOU, FOR YOU ARE NOT UNDER LAW BUT UNDER GRACE.
***This doesn't mean you'll never fall into temptation again. Even Paul speaks of this in Romans 7:15 when he says, "I do not understand, I am doing the very thing I hate. I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out." But take great comfort in knowing that when God saved us, it was with the understanding that He'd be providing us "sanctification by the Spirit" all along the way; from the inside out, His purity and holiness changing your heart until it comes through as purity and holiness in ACTION (2 Thess. 2:13, Fervent)
Galatians 5:16 - Walk by the Spirit, and you WILL NOT carry out the desire of the flesh ~