Mothering from Scratch

“Having children requires a change of mind-set from me to we.” is a classic line from the book Mothering from Scratch by Melinda Means and Kathy Helgemo.

I totally agree!  Though I would argue that we begins with marriage itself–at least it did with me, for I had a LOT of selfishness to overcome–still do, some days.  We take a few baby steps to we when we get married, I think….then we jump wholly into we with children. As they write, God uses our children as vessels to shape our character and bring us closer to Him.

No truer words have been written.

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Photo taken in November 2010 on Mt. Hermon

 

I remember when Noah was first born. I had so much to learn about babies….about raising children. So I read voraciously. I soaked up wisdom from Elisabeth Elliot, Stormie O’ Martian and Lisa Whelchel–to name a few.  I really wasn’t much of a Dobson reader, though I have the books, still unread, on my bookshelf.  I needed and wanted to read from women like me, who had been where I was.

Not only that, I learned from the godly women and mothers, whom God had lovingly placed in my life–Melisa, Sandy, Ruby, Martha, Rhonda, Terri, Gail, Jody and so many more.  We did Bible study, prayer and mom play-groups together. Some days I failed miserably.  I felt like I was gingerly walking through a china shop, as I raised Noah and then Kylie.  I was so very careful–probably TOO careful. Then Tabor came along.  Then Sydney.  And by that time, I was too tired and overwhelmed to really continue in the same vein. I loosened up a bit in my parenting style.

As I read Mothering from Scratch, the one thing that stands out to me–as I read it now with eyes of the new mother I was–is PERMISSION to do things differently.

I wish I had had that sort of permission.

I wish someone had noticed how uptight I was and told me to chill out!

As we mother, sometimes, we feel like we are under a microscope and critical eye when we are around others–and truly?  Sometimes, we really ARE!  But I wish a sweet Melinda and Kathy had come along to say, “Hey!  It’s okay to do this differently.  It’s ok to not follow the latest trends and to just follow what God has placed on your heart to do to raise your child.”

In the book, my very favorite part is that Melinda and Kathy constantly point moms to spend time with Jesus and His Word.  They write, “Mothering is a ministry. And Jesus never sent out His children to minister alone.”  He comes with us! And He daily renews us, forgives us and teaches us.  Oh to grace!  How great a Savior!

Another part I loved was a quote they shared from my friend, Tammie Head.  It is OF UTTER IMPORTANCE, especially, if you are like me and you struggle with an inner voice of self-condemnation.  

Tammie writes that we can refute the voices in our head, by saying this: “You know what? That is not my God.  The way I’m feeling is not my God.  That’s not God’s voice in my heart.  That’s not the way my God thinks toward me. That is not what my God would say to me.  My God doesn’t feel that way about me.”

Then, as moms, we can dig into Scripture and read for ourselves what God DOES say and think and speak to/towards us.

Truth wins every time.

I cannot say that, as a mom, I have discovered the key to raising perfect children or even the key to being a perfect mom.  I’m not.  They aren’t.  But I always fall back on a truth of God in my own life, which sets me free every single day.  Even when I mess up, God is still very much FOR THEM and teaching them Himself in His own perfect way.  He is still bridging the gap every single day to my parenting and to Chris’.  Our kids will be alright.  They will walk in the calling God has placed on their lives.  And they, too, will fall and faillike me.  But they will fall on the grace and mercy of a God, who LOVES them unconditionally.  And for that? Well, for that I am grateful and I can rest.

Be Blessed Friends!  And take heart…

Holly

Close up of girl holding heart-shape doughIf you would like a FREE COPY of Kathy and Melinda’s book, Mothering from Scratch, please leave a comment, sharing your biggest life-lesson from mothering.  On Tuesday morning, I will draw one name and send it to you!

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Feel-ing Frozen

feelSometimes I sit in a cold room.  And I let myself be cold.  I do that, so I can feel it.  I can feel alive.

For it is easy for me to turn off my emotions at times.  It is a learned behavior–and probably a control issue.  If I turn off my emotions, then perhaps this time, I won’t get hurt by others.

In a way this sheltering-my-emotions behavior stems from my childhood and young adult years.  For if I happened to say what I was thinking, I often got called out on it, mocked or laughed at. Then if I cried or got upset, I often heard this, “You take things too seriously. Lighten up.”  Sometimes today, as an adult, my family does the same thing in response to something I say or do…and I remember that feeling I had as a child.  But now?  Now it doesn’t sting, as much. I just take it in stride and be who I am, even if silly is part of the description.  But I have learned that I also will hold my emotions close to my heart…and not let them out–most of the time.

So sometimes, like today, I take time to feel cold.  In a bit I will turn on the fireplace, and I will then feel warm.

I will pray…and I will share with the Lord all the emotions that are stirring.

And I will specifically pray this, “Lord, help me to let my heart get broken for the things that break your heart.” I will.  And I DO!

Yesterday, I met with some friends to pray over another friend in turmoil.  And I felt that defensive gate trying to go up.  I battled it in my mind.  I asked the Lord to help me FEEL her pain and to somehow lift her deep, deep burden.  And the gate remained tightly locked up…UNTIL I began to pray aloud. Then I began to cry with her.

There’s something about prayer that makes my defenses go down.  I know God knows and sees my heart and emotions.  I know that He gets me…that He knows my fear of rejection and mockery, so that I often hide my heart and hold close those thoughts inside.  He knows! So I don’t put up my defenses with Him.  It is a true relationship–with my Lord.

He is still shaping me and molding me.  I would love to say that I have overcome this lack of feeling at times.  But I haven’t.  It is still there.  But maybe it is there less and less.  Maybe I am becoming BRAVER.  Maybe those words on the tape recorder in my mind, words of criticism and unkindness, will slowly become thin and no longer be able to play.

One thing I know this day is this:  God’s word on my heart changes me.  So this year, I am praying to feel more…not to be an emoting mess, no. But to feel compassion and show compassion.  To feel joy and show joy.  To let the real me be seen…and to live out God’s great purposes for my life. And I am memorizing verses that speak to this….rewriting the old words with God’s word.  Thank you, Beth Moore, for that concept.  It has been changing me for over 13 years now.

Do you struggle with this, too?  Let me know in the comments and I will pray for you!

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Do You Weary Like I Do?

Sometimes I feel so tired and weary…of the day, the journey, the tasks left undone, the unkindness of others, the clouds.

Then a day like today dawns…

And God reminds me.

Do you Weary Like I Do?

Isaiah 40:31 ~ but those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.

2 Corinthians 4: 16 ~ Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

Galatians 6:9 ~ Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Isaiah 64:4 ~ Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

Matthew 11:28-30 ~ Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Be Blessed, Dear Ones.  Press On.  And press in!  This journey matters!  YOUR journey matters.

I loved this picture, which Ann Voskamp shared today.  It is now my screen saver.  For I need it.  In this season and every season….I need Him. And I need to be reminded in my weariness, that giving God glory and praise effect-eth much.

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Today…I Choose

There’s a roast in my oven. It is my favorite way to make it (here). And I have a roast in my oven for two reasons: the kids went back to school today (HOORAY for space and quiet! I have not been alone since December 18th–and this introverted heart needs some days away from the fray of people.), so I had time to go to the store, and  sweet friends sent us a gift card for $50 to Wal-mart.  I used it, only going over by $1.77, and now I have the makings for two days of groceries for our little tribe of six.

You see, we have a budget!  Let me say that again, WE HAVE A BUDGET!  We have tried at it for several years, and failed in sticking to it or creating one that accurately reflects our actual state of the union in the Smith home.  We are boundary pushers.  Always have been.  But that is no excuse…we must set ourselves up for success by setting ourselves under a standard of what will really work. Today we choose it.

God has been so good to us.  He has provided abundantly in spite of us…and we are now walking in a place of obedience in financial things.  It is like I lost 50 pounds or something–such a weight is off my back.

It helps in my days and weeks, too, to know how much work to accept.  As a work-at-home jack of all trades (administrative assistant work, web design and development, scoring essays, editing books, etc…), it helps me to know what we need budget-wise AND it helps us to dream and plan for the future.

For the first time in years, we have a savings account with money in it. And that money there?  It is purposed for different things.  After bankruptcy, we just didn’t have the ability to get past the paycheck to paycheck.  And little (I mean little!  But enough) by little, we are stepping into a new season.

It just feels right.  And I wanted to share about it with you today.  Perhaps financial things are not your struggle, but you have others.  I get that!  I have others, too!  And I don’t have much to say to that except this…

Waldo Canyon: Today I Choose  by Holly SmithI took this picture when the Waldo Canyon fire erupted in a big way.  Chris and I well remember coming out from a date one afternoon and seeing the smallest plume of smoke. That little plume became a monster destroyer!

It is like our choices every single day–what we do, how we think and even our choices NOT to _____(fill in the blank).  Those small little choices add up to BIG ones.  For good or for bad, we must guard our hearts, friends.  And this is not just a matter of gumption.  It is a matter of choosing–and making space for intentional planning and getting accountability.  Ask someone to ask you about it. Ask God to help, too!

Jesus is FOR you, friends.  You can count on Him to come through for you this day.

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Steadfast

By Andrea Howey on flickr

By Andrea Howey on flickr

This year I’m choosing a word to keep me on track with where God has been leading me.   And this one word?  Well it really represents two words that really get to the crux of the problem for me…

The one word is this: steadfast.  It sounds rather action-less,  but truly it is not.   It is a position for me of readiness for action,  of obedience. 

For my two words are these: no excuses.  You see,  I wanted to be a lawyer most of my life,  really a judge.   And had I gone that route,  I would have been very good.  I can argue a point. And sometimes?  I don’t even realize I’m doing it.

So excuses?  Well often I have to be the judge of my own arguments.   I have to call the thing in my right hand a lie.  And that can get tricky. 

For instance, I have a large family and a lot of things going on most of the time,  so I can easily excuse my habit of not sending a thank you letter.  Lost the address,  I forgot,  etc etc.   So I excuse myself for not being good at follow through.   And time goes on… And I don’t have an address book anymore… And I don’t want to… For then I’d have to follow through. 

So I put a blockade in my own plan!  I printed up pages to write down people’s addresses again.  And I intend to plan to write those thank you letters and congratulations and our sweet Compassion kids and my niece,  who faithfully writes to us. 

Haha! Take that,  argument.  Removed your excuse.   And I shall walk steadfastly in just that way… For all things and with God’s help,  especially. 

For don’t think for one minute that the Holy Spirit hasn’t been calling me on my game of excuses.   He has.   And one by one,  I am taking down each one until I can stand steadfastly before God in faithfulness.

I have a whole list… And I plan to ask Jesus to help me through each one. 

My scripture memory verse for the first part of January is this… 1 Peter 1:13 HCSB ~ “Therefore,  with your minds ready for action,  be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. “

So STEADFAST.  If Christ returns this year,  I want to be found with no excuses. Steadfast before my King. 

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