These are the 5 things I look for in a great planner, plus the one I’m currently obsessing over!Read More
Dear Mama Girl,
I see you. I see you trying to be all the things to all your people.
I see you tired beyond belief, but still making an effort to show up to the endless demands.
I see you juggling work life and home life.
I see you striving to keep up with what everyone else is doing in the world. I see you keeping score for all the ways you don’t quite measure up, try as you might.
I see you finding time for yourself in the crevices of your day, and then feeling guilty for not being with your family instead.
I see you saying “yes” to things you know you probably shouldn’t take on right now. I see you trying to live up to expectations—the most demanding of all your own.
I see you picking fights with your husband, when all you really want is to laugh with him again. I see you wondering if he still thinks you’re beautiful.
I see you questioning your worth and your value and your identity in this season.
I see you trying to be both girl and mom. I see you wondering if the girl you once knew is in there at all anymore—underneath all the snot and the messes and the never alone-ness.
I see you loving your job as a mom more than anything, but simultaneously wondering if there’s more for you.
Mama girl, I see you.
May you see that you can in fact be both—mama and girl.
May you see that the girl you once knew is in fact gone, but that a better one has taken her place.
May you see all the ways it has changed you for good.
May you see the ways it has taught you more about your Father’s love for you.
May you see your role as a mom as the greatest gift…but not the only gift.
May you see that the expectations you strive to live up to were never meant to be your prison.
May you see that the rhythm of your days is determined by you.
May you see that your striving does not equal thriving.
May you see that your truest rest comes from surrender—surrender of the ways you try to get it right and the ways you fall short. Surrender of the desires of your heart.
May you see that guilt and shame and condemnation are not from God…and not for you.
May you see that He has the best for you, mama.
May you see that He made you to be both mama and girl—and that when you live in both, you’re actually better at both.
May you see that motherhood is sanctifying work and that it’s what has changed you for the better.
May you see that all the stuff that feels heavy and monotonous right now is actually doing it’s job—chipping away all the rough edges in you to give way to the masterpiece He has been forming.
May you see that you are valued and priceless and perfectly imperfect.
So lean into Him and lean on your tribe.
Let go of perfect and let go of lies.
Keep your head up, mama girl.
You’ve got this.
A Mama Girl like you
About a week ago, I was working through a bible study by Debbie Alsdorf. The study is on loving others well and the lesson I was working through that day was on anger. I hadn’t previously given a whole lot of thought to anger. It’s kind of a yucky topic, to be honest. Maybe that’s why no one talks about it. As I thought and prayed through that lesson, I felt like God was telling me I needed to really explore this topic to see what He wants me (us) to take heart concerning it.
In an attempt to learn more, I sought out some wisdom from an expert in the area of psychology. I had the privilege of interviewing a friend of mine, Dr. Jennifer Anderson, on this topic and OH MY GOSH. So good, you guys! I have posted our interview here for your reading pleasure. Whatever you’re doing right now, stop and ask God to open your heart to hear what He wants you to hear from this. I truly believe every single person reading this can benefit from it.
Here’s a little about Jennifer’s background: Jennifer is married to her husband Jeff and has a blended family of 6 grown boys. She has overcome so much in her own life in practically every way, which is probably what makes her such an amazing counselor. She is a licensed and ordained minister with a Doctorate in Christian counseling and holds multiple certifications in women’s issues, grief, and a specialization in childhood sexual abuse issues. In more recent times, Jennifer has taken on the role of president of Kingdom Community Ministries, a faith based counseling practice. So basically, she’s a #BOSS in so many ways. Now you know what I mean when I said it was a “privilege” to spend time talking with her.
Me: So, the focus of our conversation today is about anger. Would you say that as a counselor this is something you see women dealing with a lot? And do you think as a society this is something we have “masculinized” in a way?
Jennifer: I’ll address that last part first. I think in part we have masculinized the expressions of anger. There are certain generalized views and expressions of anger that are more associated with men . Men have an easier time expressing anger than women do. Women are typically better about talking through the other vulnerable emotions, where men struggle with that more. When it comes down to it, both have the same capacity to struggle with anger in different ways.
So, back to women. I can pick up on it a lot as a counselor, but it’s very infrequent that a woman comes in and says she has anger issues. Most people wouldn’t call it that. I have to help them work it out over time. It’s usually not that they’re afraid or defensive of it. It’s that a lot of women struggle to identify the emotion(s) underneath it.
It’s important to start with what anger is. Simply put, anger is an emotion. But, it’s not a primary emotion. I explain to my clients that just like colors, there are primary and secondary emotions. The primary emotions are: fear, frustration and hurt. Anger is a secondary emotion that is created by one or more primary emotions.
A lot of women don’t realize their anger has so much underneath it. I have to work with them to get to the root of why they are repressing it.
Me: Wow, that is so good! I love the color analogy. It makes so much sense. So, when you notice that a woman is repressing anger, how do you go about addressing that? How do you help her see what’s underneath?
Jennifer: I have to dig into their view of anger, first. What previous beliefs do they have about anger? A lot of women believe anger is wrong either through the experiences in their upbringing or in a spiritual sense. Some people think anger is a sin. We don’t know what we believe is a lie, until it is exposed.
When women don’t recognize they’re angry and I help them uncover what they believe about it, then we can explore the emotions behind it more. The next step is giving themselves permission to actually feel anger.
It’s one thing to believe anger is a God-given emotion and another thing to actually allow yourself to express it.
Emotions are both God-given and learned. If you don’t give yourself permission to be angry, confusion sets in and leaves you trying to suppress it and attempting to cope with it in some way. This makes women feel like something is wrong with them.
Me: That’s such a great point. I have never considered that maybe we don’t allow ourselves the permission to feel anger. I think I have a definite tendency to get into a trap of feeling guilty or indignant for expressing anger. Obviously there are some ways that are more appropriate and healthy than others.
We know the Bible does speak on this topic. The passage in Ephesians that most people have heard of regarding anger is a good one, but I feel like it can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. Can you speak to that a little bit?
Jennifer: Yes, so Ephesians 4:26-27 says “In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” I would say a lot of people mistake the part about not sinning in anger. Many women I’ve talked to seem to believe that anger itself is sin, because their view has been distorted. But, anger is a God-given emotion. Jesus himself displayed acts of righteous anger. It’s what we do with that anger that can turn to sin.
Another common misconception is the part that talks about not letting the sun go down on our anger. I think most people read that and think we have 24 hours to get past our anger, but that doesn’t make any sense. God created us with complex emotions and knows our capacity to process them. I believe what Paul was referring to here is not repressing our anger—not letting it sit under the surface instead of working through it.
Me: That makes so much more sense than seeing that verse as a sort of time crunch put on us. It goes right with that last part of the verse, too, about not giving the devil a foothold. If we are working through those underlying emotions, then the devil has no foothold. But on the contrary, if we’re refusing to work through them, the devil can have a hay day in our thought life. Working through those negative emotions is a way God can protect us from the enemy’s attacks.
So, when that anger is not dealt with, how do you see it manifest itself in women’s lives?
Jennifer: Suppressed anger manifests itself most often through anxiety and depression. There may be experiences and feelings that were never given any exposure. Those things will continue to plague and inhibit the woman from moving forward.
Me: Anxiety and depression are huge issues for women, so it makes sense that is how repressed anger (plus those primary emotions underneath) lead to feelings of hopelessness and anxiety. It also provides a lot of hope for women, to hear that by sorting through that mess of emotions they can experience freedom.
Ok, I’m going to veer a little on this next question. As moms, I feel like it can be so hard to not react. The demands and the pressures of being a mom and wife (plus whatever other roles we have) can feel like so much to carry at times. Then our kids have tantrums, attitudes, fighting, etc. Honestly, these things make me feel angry. I often end up in a vicious cycle that looks something like this: my kids misbehave, I react, I feel shame, I apologize, I move forward and pledge not to do it again. Then, before I know it, it happens again. How do we break cycles like these and handle anger in a healthy way?
Jennifer: Yes, I remember this when my boys were young. As a counselor, there are a lot of things I would dig into to try to figure out why the anger is coming on, so it’s hard to give a general answer. I do have some helpful tools though that anyone could use to express anger in a healthy way.
Things to consider:
When you feel angry, ask yourself what primary emotion is causing it. Are you frustrated about something? Fearful? Feeling hurt?
For a lot of moms, you might need to consider how you discipline. Is it causing more frustration than it is good? Kids need consistent and very definite consequences for their actions.
I remember when my youngest (and strongest willed child) was little. I often felt angry, because I was repeating myself all the time. There was one time where he was getting in trouble frequently at school. I disciplined him by taking away video games (which all the boys were very into at the time). Well, the behaviors kept happening. After three weeks, I finally realized that video games were not his value and therefore would not provide a powerful enough reason for him to change his behavior. Once I figured out his value (isolation from friends) the discipline was highly effective. You have to figure out how to discipline each child in the way that makes sense to you both and doesn’t leave you feeling frustrated and defeated.
Tools to Implement:
Take a break. When you feel that surge of anger coming on, do not try to sort out or solve a problem. You will end up sinning in your anger and regretting things you say or do. Just like we tell our kids to do, take a break before you try to work through the situation.
These next few tools are not so much for mom related anger—just anger in general. They are scientifically proven to release anger. The purpose is to allow the anger to surface and get the negative surge of energy out. It has to go somewhere. It is best to process it out loud and in a controlled environment before trying to deal with it rationally. A person who is repressing anger cannot deal rationally.
Journal. I don’t mean a diary entry. I mean throw up on the page all the raw and unfiltered things you feel. Say it all. Get it out. Then, once it’s out, see what’s true and whats a lie. (Make sure to get rid of it when you’re done.) Then, address the situation, asking God for His wisdom to communicate effectively.
Write a letter. This is very similar to the journal idea, except for in letter form directed at a specific person. Write a letter to the person who has hurt you. Write it all—all the things you would never actually say to them. Then when you’re done, destroy it.
Empty chair. This is really good for anyone who has been hurt by someone specifically. Do this alone as to not filter yourself. Pretend the person who has hurt you is sitting in the empty chair. Say (out loud) whatever you need to say to them. Angry things. Hurtful things. Get it all out.
Exercise. Take a walk or run by yourself and process in your mind and out loud the situation that is making you feel angry. Make sure to be raw and honest. Filtering it won’t fully release what is there.
Me: These are such great ideas! I’m excited to implement them into my life. I definitely struggle with not fully allowing myself to feel anger and get it out in an unfiltered way. I’m not helping myself by doing that. It helps to have the visual that the anger is always there sitting at the front of our brains. I have to tell my brain what to do with it, or else it sits there tainting all of my relationships, as I subconsciously and unfortunately spew out what’s unresolved, on my most favorite people. I’m so ready to grow in this area and I feel like the knowledge and tools you shared are going to be incredibly helpful for me and SO many other women as well. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your wisdom with us!
If people want to learn more about Kingdom Community Ministries and what you do there or if they are interested in finding a counselor, where can they go to get more information?
Jennifer: Absolutely! I love speaking on this topic, because I love to make women realize they are not powerless in this struggle. It just takes a little work to grow through it.
People can visit our website: http://www.kcmcounseling.com
They can call the office at: (661) 324-4070
We’re also on Instagram @kingdom_community_ministries
I hope you enjoyed today’s post and learned as much as I feel like I did! I’d love to hear your takeaways in the comments below or over on Instagram.
Have a wonderful week!
After lots of great feedback and questions from my last post, I decided a follow up was a good idea.. you know so you could actually see what #reallife did. If you’re reading this wondering what an Easter basket follow up might mean, kindly head to the last post so this all makes a little more sense. In a nutshell, after some heart searching, I decided the Smith fam needed a redesign of our Easter festivities. Even though I’m a big kid when it comes to all the magic of celebrating any holiday, I wanted to take a more intentional approach this year. I wanted my kids to truly understand the meaning of the holiday and who we are celebrating. And so, we decided on “Blessing Baskets”.
I still had a decision to make, though. Do I give the Easter bunny a role at all? My daughter had already known about the Easter bunny and I didn’t want to take the magical part away completely. (You’ll have to read to the bottom to see what I decided on that) Also, in all honesty, I had already purchased some items for their baskets a month ago and didn’t really want to go return it. The purpose of this, after all, was to prioritize and be intentional about the reason for our celebrating…which is exactly what we did.
So here’s what it looked like for us this year…
1. We gathered rocks from our yard and painted them. I think this step would be best done on Good Friday. Symbolically, it makes sense to do it on the day of the crucifixion and logistically the paint has time to dry before you write on them and place them out Saturday night.
2. The next day when our rocks were dry, we talked about what sin is. I used examples they could understand and also talked about how Mommy and Daddy sin too. Next we talked about forgiveness and how to let go of yucky feelings and fears. Both of my kids, with a little guidance, were able to verbalize a few sin struggles and fears. It was cute to see their brains working and getting it. Each time we named something we wanted to “let go of”, I wrote it on a rock and put it in their basket. Afterward, we prayed and thanked God that He loves us so much that He sent His son to die for us and that we can live free of the things that weigh us down.
3. We left the baskets of rocks out on the playroom table Saturday night and thanked Jesus again for dying for our sins and for keeping His promise to rise again and be with us all the time. We thanked Him for always taking the “yucky stuff” in our hearts away and for blessing us abundantly.
4. I replaced the rocks with the “blessings”. I tried to keep these items realistic and practical, yet fun. I wanted each item to be usable and something that would bring the kids together or us together as a family. I also wrote this note to bring it full circle and reinforce the intention behind it all. They definitely got it and were so excited. I know people may have their own ideas about providing a letter that says it’s from Jesus. While I completely respect your right to your own opinion, I don’t feel one ounce of conviction. My intentions to help my kids understand the crucifixion and resurrection in a tangible way while still having some childhood magic were completely pure. So, no nasty comments here, please ;)
So, that’s it! Overall it was pretty easy and totally worth it. I felt like my kids “got it” and it helped all of us to keep focused this year. I hope you enjoyed getting a peek at how this went for us. There are a couple things I might tweak next year and as they get older, but overall I feel good about how it turned out and how well the kids did with understanding why we truly celebrate Easter. I hope your Easter celebration was blessed and that you have a wonderful week ahead!
Hello, friends! I hope you’re feeling this gorgeous Spring weather and soaking in all that is beautiful about this time of year. The sunshine, the luscious greens, the sweet smell of flowers in the air…oh and the allergies (Lord help us).
With Easter approaching next weekend, I wanted to take some time to reflect on what this means for us and the opportunity we have here. To be honest, I’m a little hesitant to jump into this post today. It’s not the one I had planned to write at all. It feels a little heavy and uncomfortable. But, I sat down and out flowed these words. That’s usually when it’s right though, amen? When the good and the hard go hand in hand.
Just promise me you’ll read this with an open mind. One mama to another…on an equal playing field…with no judgment one way or the other. Ok, here we go..
I was in Target this week (big surprise) and I overheard a little girl tell her mom, “See this, Mom? This is what I want for Easter this year,” pointing to a Barbie on the shelf. Something in me unexpectedly cringed. I don’t judge the family, because… well I learned a long time ago that’s never a good idea. But, I just wonder, how did we ever turn our savior’s death and resurrection into another present buying holiday full of expectations?
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love holidays and all things tradition!! It’s magical and SO much fun. Also, for the record, in past years I have always purchased Easter baskets for my kids.
But, I just can’t help but feel like there’s a better way. Like, if Jesus was here and He saw me making such a fuss to fill a basket with meaningless toys for my kids in an attempt to celebrate His resurrection, I think He might stop me with an incredulous “Are you kidding me?”. This revelation makes me uncomfortable. In my flesh, I want to keep going the way I’ve always gone. It’s fun to follow the way of the world and honestly it’s just fun to surprise my kids with things. It’s not wrong and it’s not harmful. But, what am I really doing for them in the long run?
By celebrating in this way, I’m showing them something different than what I aim to teach them. We do the resurrection eggs and we discuss the gospel, but if I’m being really honest, the real celebrating has been about the Easter bunny. He’s the one that shows up and leaves surprises. He’s the one we take our picture with. Inadvertently, he is the one they could easily come to think the holiday is about. I knew there had to be a way to change this and still have a great time and so I decided it…I’m not doing “Easter baskets” for may kids this year. (I’ll give you a second to recover from that comment, haha!) I’m also not a total dud, so here are some more meaningful options I’ve thought of instead:
Work with your kids to create a “Blessing Basket”. I’ve seen a couple different variations of this on Pinterest. Here’ s how it works. You set out the easter baskets ahead of time and have your kids collect rocks. Read to them from the Bible (a children’s bible is better for keeping attention) about how Jesus takes our sins (the rocks) and washes them away, replacing them with “blessings”. Have an honest conversation about what your kids struggle with (i.e. sharing, kindness, whining, etc.) and write these words on the rocks in each child’s basket. Make sure to provide an example of how you struggle to make them feel safe about sharing. The night before Easter, cover the baskets with some sort of fabric. Replace the rocks with “blessings” (practical things they need and other fun Jesus reminders like books, stickers, bible story coloring books, etc.) This is a great tangible analogy for them to begin to understand His saving grace.
Surprise your kids with a “Giving Basket” full of both practical and fun items to give away. Have a plan about where to take these items (i.e. A homeless shelter, a foster care center, out in the community, etc.). Make sure to explain that Jesus loves us in both intangible and tangible ways. He uses people to bless one another, and this basket will allow them to be in charge of blessing someone in a very tangible way.
Resources you can download now:
1. I’m planning to use this free scavenger hunt resource by Happy Home Fairy for the kids to track down their “blessing baskets”.
2. These super cute scripture eggs by The Crafty Classroom will be great for teaching about Easter and helping older kids memorize scripture.
3. These are the Resurrection Eggs we use each year. I love that they have a physical item to hold that symbolizes what happened in the reading. It has scripture along with a story format for each day. My kids get so excited about opening the eggs and guessing what’s inside.
All of this to say, I just really believe there’s got to be a way to teach our kids that who we celebrate matters. Our praise and adoration—those are for Jesus. Not out of obligation or legalism, but because we actually believe what He did for us and we do in fact adore Him and need Him on the daily. I want my kids to stand firm on the fact that our praise and our daily focus on Him is life changing, even from a very young age.
That’s how we create confident little people with the right priorities. Like Dr. Straub says, “When we lead our families with eternity in mind, the day-to-day becomes much more about who we are in Him, and less about who we’re not in the world.”
Thanks for hanging in there with me. Maybe you’ve gotten to the end of this and you feel God stirring. I challenge you to pray over and consider your Easter traditions. What do you do currently? How might God be calling you to tweak it a little to bring Him glory? I’d love to hear your thoughts below. I value your insight and I think we are truly better together in this whole mama thing.
May your Easter celebration be the best yet!
P.S. On a less serious note. Someone please have some Cadbury’s for me. This lactose intolerant girl is always craving them this time of year.
“It’s hard to be still when so much of our lives require us to multitask and get all the things done for all the people. It’s hard to wake up early. It’s hard to give up time out of our day. But, what’s harder is doing this life in our own power, and not tapping into the sustainable strength and renewal that Jesus invites us into.”Read More
Hello lovelies! Today, I have the pleasure of introducing my first guest blogger, Sarah Holmstrom! I met Sarah up at Hume Lake when we were both tagging along with our youth pastor husbands to winter camp. I immediately knew she was someone I wanted to be friends with. She has this light about her that is so refreshing and she seems to handle the chaos of multiple kids with such grace and ease. She’s a Southern California mama of 4 and the co founder of a ministry called “Raising Prayerful Kids”.
I am always getting ideas from her account about ways to incorporate prayer in my parenting life and how to get my kids excited about knowing Jesus. I just know you will love her as much as I do, so without further ado, I’ll let you hear from her yourself…
Does anyone else feel like being a parent is the most overwhelming job in all the world? People keep using the phrase, “decision fatigue,” and I totally get it now. We have to make about 8,000 decisions a day per tiny person we are raising.
What should we feed them, what sports should we sign up for, how much screen time is too much, should we spank, does this offense deserve a timeout, should we buy organic, do we choose homeschool, private school, public school, and what do we do about sleepover invitations?
Yes, it’s nap time! Do I vacuum, fold laundry, finish work projects, or do some self-care?
(By the time you make that decision, they’re awake anyway.)
Yep, the decisions and the intense pressure not to ruin our kids lives are absolutely exhausting! I have gone through seasons where I have stayed stuck in fear, guilt, and shame over my parenting. Other times, I’ve tried to make light of this intense pressure I feel--I’ve shrugged off the significance of my role and joked about hiding from my kids while eating chocolate behind the pantry door. Even worse, I’ve tried to suck it up and just pretend that I’m doing it all perfectly. Have you been there too?
I believe that there is another way.
The Creator of the universe never meant for us to carry these decisions and burdens on our own. He made our kids and loves them even more than we do. He wants to speak to us about our kids and lead us each day. He longs to help us breathe in, breathe out, and let go.
God makes it pretty clear how we are to parent and it’s much simpler than we make it.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is older he will not depart from it.”
Our main job is to teach our kids about Jesus and to pray for them and with them every single day.
This is so refreshing and relieving to me. It means I can let go of my desire to do all the things--to feed them superfoods, do Pinterest crafts with them, make sure we have awesome family devotionals, and keep a perfectly clean house. These things aren’t bad. These things are awesome, they’re just not first! My husband calls this idea Priority Parenting. We always tell our kids that what matters most to us is that they would know and love Jesus.
But how do we do this? Life is so busy, how do we fit in praying with kids in a meaningful and substantial way.
About a year and a half ago, my friend Stephanie called me and we talked about these things. We talked about how much we wanted to be incredible moms and yet how overwhelmed we were. We chatted about how the biggest desire of our hearts was to teach our kids to love Jesus. She then told me a story about a friend of hers who just started following Jesus but was looking for advice on how to pray with her kids.
“Sarah, I’ve been praying about it…I think we’re supposed to write a book together on how to pray with your kids.”
“Think about it Sarah. We have both been working in ministry all of our adult lives. We have education and theology backgrounds. And we ’re both done having babies so we have more free time!”
“Steph…actually, I'm pregnant” I told her. We had just found out we were having baby number four. I took some time to think and pray about it and ultimately decided that God was leading me to join her in this endeavor after all. Little did I know that God would use our research and writing and experimenting with more ways to pray to completely transform my family.
We started a ministry together called Raising Prayerful Kids and our goal is to help families find a couple of prayer activities that they can smoothly integrate into their lives. We believe these activities will bring you and your kids closer to each other while bringing you closer to God. You can visit our blog here where we have three different categories of ways to pray with your kids--prayer games (easy, quick games you can incorporate into any car ride, bath time, dinner table time, etc), focused prayers (prayers that require a little bit more time and intentionality but are still super simple), and contemplative prayers (special prayers that are the deepest and most meaningful, but may take a little practice).
Here are some practical ways you can incorporate prayer more often into your day without taking up time or adding extra stuff to your plate:
1- Play the Grateful Game. You can play this simple game anywhere, with any age! Take turns as a family naming things that you are grateful for. “Thank you Jesus for…” For an extra challenge-you can go through the alphabet as a family. A- “Thank you Jesus for Apples, they are delicious.” B “ Thank you Jesus for the Beach, it’s one of my favorite places." etc. This simple game can quickly reset the mind and heart and bring more joy to your home.
2- Prayer of Examen. Over dinner or any family meal, incorporate some intentional table talk. What was the best part of your day and what was the hardest? How did you see God working throughout your day? Praise God together that He is with us in the highs and lows!
3- Nature Prayer Walk. Are you already heading to the park or walking around the block? Take a family walk and help your kids admire all that you see. For younger kids, you can bring a bucket or basket and have them collect pieces of nature. (You can even use these items for an art project when you get home!) For older kids, encourage them to take photos of the beauty that they see. Thank God for each item and point out how creative He is.
4- Breath Prayers. Teach your kids to say short breath prayers. Breathe in and say, “Holy Spirit.” Breathe out and say, “Bring me Peace.” This is a great way to calm tension and to stop a tantrum in its tracks. Breath prayers are great for you to use throughout the day in front of your children. When they hear you call on Jesus for help, you are modeling your faith for them.
5- Praise Party. Need a reset in your day? Pump some praise tunes and take a two minute break from whatever you’re doing to just dance and sing and worship God with your people. Not only does this activity worship God, but it gets the endorphins flowing and brings you together in a memorable way.
I wish I had time here to explain all the ways that my love for my kids has grown through praying more often with them. Life is crazier than ever--my husband is a pastor and we are both busy with ministry and work, we have four kids six and under, one of my kids has a heart disease, and another has chronic asthma. Life is full and chaotic at times, but we have never had more peace than we do now. We have never been more connected. Praying more often with and for my kids has brought so much peace to our home and it’s reminded me that God is with me and with us.
So, friend, remember today that God is for you. He cares for you and wants to remind you that out of all the parents in the whole world, He chose you to parent your child. So breathe in, breathe out, and spend time in prayer today. Ask God to help you make all your decisions. Ask Him to carry your burdens and give you the strength you need to get through your day. If you get nothing else done today, spend a minute or two praying with and for your kids.
I had a good laugh too. Here I was assuming that this growth was odd and undesirable, because I had never seen a succulent grow and thrive before. It got me thinking about growth and flourish (my word of the year) and how this might parallel in our lives.Read More
I stood there in the coffee shop completely mortified. My daughter was throwing a fit over leaving and literally refused to move her little feet beyond the table where we had just 5 minutes prior been drinking our “coffees” and drawing on napkins cheerfully. I tried warnings, counting and even the “Ok, bye then. “ fake-out move. (You know the one.) But, no to avail. My strong willed girl stood her ground. Trying to hide my embarrassment and keep my cool, I whispered in her ear the advice she needed to get moving and led her with a firm hand out the door. All the while she cried pitifully for passerbyers. *insert eye roll and simultaneous face to palm* Parenting has got to be the most humbling job ever, am I right?
You see, I had certain expectations for how this day would go. It’s a day I had been anticipating with many mixed emotions for awhile now—kindergarten enrollment day. I got P and I ready for the day, hopped in the car and headed down to what will be her school home for the next 7 years! We picked up her packet and heard all about the way things run in kinder world. After that, I treated my big girl to a hot chocolate date with mom at the cutest coffee shop in town. How nice of me to think of her and how inconsiderate that she didn’t go along with my plans with a joyful attitude, right?
Expectations. If comparison is the thief of joy, then expectations are the accomplice in the getaway car. They disappoint every. single. time. I talk about this in my new devotional book Remain. Any time we put our hope in someone other than Jesus, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. We are depending on a person or a circumstance to meet our needs or fill us up in a certain area, and that just isn’t how God designed it. He knew people would fail us and He knew that we would fail others. He designed us to be filled by Him alone.
This past weekend at a women’s retreat, I had the pleasure of learning from Debbie Alsdorf. She’s a wonderful speaker and writer with a plethora of great books and bible study resources for women. She spoke to us about the proverbial cup we all carry. God provides us with this cup and He is our “pour over”. He pours over us every good and perfect thing we need to live the “lot” He has given us. When we live in that place of focus and dependence, we don’t need from the people around us. We don’t walk around asking what the world can give us or do for us. Rather, we pour out instinctively from the abundance that was poured over us.
The fit my daughter threw this morning was embarrassing, inappropriate and definitely needed to be redirected. However, that wasn’t what truly hurt me. It was the failed expectation that made my heart sink. It was a picture perfect moment this teacher mama had created in her mind that fell flat when disrupted. Kids are kids. They will never be perfect. To allow that failed expectation to ruin my day (and hers) isn’t fair to either of us.
So how do we stop ourselves from doing this…from sabotaging ourselves with expectations? Is it not ok to live hopeful that good things will happen?
I believe that God wants us in a place of hope—just not a self-created hope. I believe He wants us to wake up each morning with open hands and hearts, saying “Here I am, Lord. What do you have for me today?” I also believe He wants us to speak to Him our desires and dreams. He cares about them and wants to answer them according to His good and perfect will. We just have to be willing to submit. Today should have started with me telling God about my hopes and plans for today and inviting Him into them.
When we invite Him in, He does a work in our hearts and minds that we don’t see coming. He prepares us for what we will face and He pours over us every good thing we will need to live the day well. So, dear friend, I encourage you to consider your expectations. Who are you unintentionally setting up for failure? What expectations might you need to let go of? Read and pray this prayer with me from Remain:
“Lord, you are my constant. I praise you for you are always good! You are my provider , my strength, and my perfect peace. Reveal to me the expectations I’ve been holding on to. Help me to release those things and consequently let some of the people in my life off the hook. Remind me that you are the only one that can provide for me and fill me fully. Help me to be more dependent on you in this area of my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen. “
“I just don’t want to be nice!” she yelled back at me. I had been awaiting a response and hoping for a change of heart—definitely didn’t expect that one. I thought for a second before responding, racking my brain for some sort of magic mom wisdom to kick in. “That’s ok,” I said. “You don’t have to feel like being nice, but you can’t be mean.” My feisty little four year old was fed up with her two year old little brother being in her room and “messing up” all her toys—so much so that she decided hitting said brother would be a good idea.
Disclaimer, I don’t use every fighting moment as a teachable moment…well because we’d be there all day everyday, am I right mamas? However, this time I felt I needed to dig deeper. I told her I wanted her to look at her brother’s face. I asked her to imagine what she might feel like if he had done this to her. She glanced her little eyes over and quickly darted them back again. I could feel the tension in her as she fought to stay mad while simultaneously feeling an inkling of empathy for the sad eyes of her brother. I let it sink in for a minute and then told her that even though she still felt like being mad, she needed to apologize to her brother because that’s how we make things right. It took some time, but she came around and before I knew it they were hugging and playing happily together (for like five minutes…because #reallife).
EMPATHY— “the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.” I truly believe we all want to raise little people to exemplify this quality. We want our kid to be the one to run over when someone gets hurt. We want it to be our child who stands up for the one being bullied. We want our little people to be kind, compassionate and considerate of others. But, we have to be honest with ourselves. Are we taking the time to teach it and model it?
In my six years of teaching experience, I can tell you first hand it is not something we innately have as human beings. We are prone to pride and selfishness, because sin entered the world long ago and it wreaks havoc in our lives daily. However, as much as we are prone to selfishness, we are also greatly moldable (especially as children). When we find a better way, we usually take it. It feels good to make someone else feel better. It feels right to understand someone, and to bring justice and peace to a situation. Those feelings are highly encouraging and empowering.
So, when we got news this week that our neighbor’s wife had passed away, I told my daughter about it. I gave her the news and we just kind of sat there for a moment letting it sink in. Then she said, “Mommy, that’s so sad. Now he’s all alone.” I nodded in agreement. “Mommy, we should do something to make him feel better. He doesn’t even have anyone to play with now.” “You’re right, sis. So what should we do?” I asked. We decided chocolate chip cookies are always a good idea, and also a card for encouragement. I watched as she worked hard on a card filled with cheery flowers, hearts and her best letters. Because I let it be her idea, she experienced great buy-in and reward. The more we allow our kids the opportunities to show love to others in tangible ways, the more they will begin to think of it on their own.
We’re not perfect. We’re busy. We mess up. We apologize. We just try our best. I hope you walk away from this post not feeling defeated that you’re not doing enough, but rather inspired and empowered. Inspired to implement empathy in your home or maybe just talk out loud about what you’re already doing (which is most likely the case). Empowered because you are the biggest force of change in your family and by placing value on raising the “nice kid”, you play a role in setting forth a positive chain reaction for all future generations. Cheers, mama! You’ve got this!
P.S. Anytime I want to teach my kids about something important, I always want to know what the Bible says about it. Here are a couple of verses on empathy that I love. I use them with my daughter to explain the “why” behind compassion and kindness.
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:11
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.“ -John 15:12
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” -Ephesians 4:32
Her. The one who has it all together. The one who can meal prep and cook like a boss. The one who can keep the house clean while simultaneously making the kids feel happy and seen. The one who takes life seriously enough to do big things, but also not too serious because she’s super fun and spontaneous too. The one who studies scripture and has words of wisdom on her lips at a moment’s notice. The one who doesn’t lose it when her kids do. The one who keeps up with her friends regularly and can go spend time with the girls without feeling guilty. The one who takes care of her body, exercises and drinks enough water. The one who knows how to keep things fun & fresh with her husband. Her.
Let me tell you ladies, SHE does not actually exist. So, we can all do a huge sigh of relief. I mean, honestly, it was exhausting just typing that. But, she’s who I was attempting to be. I didn’t even realize it. I remember at one point in our marriage a few years ago where were under quite a bit of stress. Our son Brixton had just come into the world 8 weeks prior, 3 months before that we had taken in a teenage foster son, and I was headed back to my full time teaching job with all the anxious post baby feels. I remember telling my husband, “I feel like I’m juggling while riding a unicycle and I’m constantly dropping at least one ball.” It was crazy times, you guys.
In hindsight, I realize I was still trying to do #allthethings even though I was carrying so much more than usual. I didn’t see an end to it and I didn’t know how much longer I could sustain the overwhelm. I had never expected perfection from anyone else, so why was I expecting it of myself? Why couldn’t I just give myself a break? Well, eventually I did…I had to. One day I opened my hands wide and I offered it all to God. With tear stained cheeks, I told Him everything…all the ways I had tried so hard and felt like I was failing, how tired I was, and how no matter how much I tried I couldn’t handle the burden of it all on my own. In that vulnerable space with my heart laid bare before the Lord, I felt peace. I felt Him whispering to my heart that I was doing just fine, and also that I was never intended to carry these things on my own. I decided right then and there that it was time to let some things go—some mindset things, some physical things, and most definitely some lies.
I started giving myself permission to leave a messy sink when it was too much for this tired mama to handle that day. I gave myself permission to sit and nurse my son in peace without also trying to plan, and think, and do things for everyone else. I started asking my husband for help. I said no to extra things that I knew wouldn’t be healthy to take on. I said no to the lies that popped up in my mind throughout the day. More importantly though, I started saying some better yeses.
I said yes to Jesus first and foremost. I said yes to intentional time with Him in whatever crevice of my day I could fit it in (and let me tell you—the craving for that time with Him grew and grew). I said yes to healthy and honest conversations with friends. I said yes to being more present and still. I can’t tell you that I don’t still struggle from time to time with some of these things. I think everyone does to some extent. I can tell you, though, that the choice to surrender whatever it is we’re carrying is a beautiful sacrifice to our Maker and incredible weight removed from our shoulders. So, let it go, sister! What in the world are you waiting for?
Hi friends! I’m so glad you found yourself here on the pages of this website, and especially here on the “Made Enough” blog page. I’m Tara—wife to a pastor, mama to two little cuties, teacher, and now author. I’m a coffee and dark chocolate enthusiast and a big advocate for slow mornings. I try my best to always keep it real, because who has time for anything else? I can’t wait to get to know YOU.
This blogging thing is a brand new adventure for me. I have always loved to write, and have considered off and on for what seems like a million years starting a blog (I know, like every other person in the world). With the launch of my book Remain I’ve had so many fun new opportunities present themselves and I can’t help but feel this calling on my soul into new spaces and places.
I claimed the word “flourish” as my word for 2019, not knowing what exactly it would mean for me. I knew for sure that this year would bring growth and transformation. It’s easy to see those exciting words and forget that with growth and transformation come risk, uncertainty and a stretching of yourself in sometimes painful ways. It’s uncomfortable and scary, but I’m going for it. One of the biggest leaps I’ve taken so far is to go from working as a full-time teacher to being home with my kiddos and pursuing all that this author business can bring. I have some big dreams and plans, but above all I am trusting in His. Over and over again He has been faithful. Over and over again He has provided. Over and over again He is working in the background even when I can’t see Him in the foreground. Over and over again He transforms the most broken parts of me and uses them for His glory.
Maybe you can relate to my story. Maybe you have a God-honoring dream in your heart and you’ve been debating whether or not to go for it. The least you can do is to commit it to prayer! What if that thing is your best yes? What if it takes stepping out and being vulnerable to fully realize who God made you to be? I one hundred percent believe that when we are walking in His will, we meet our fullest potential to be our greatest selves.
Maybe for you it doesn’t mean a career change or doing anything crazy different, but more of a redefining of your current self. Maybe you struggle to be content, have a difficult time making solid friends, wish you were more patient with your kids, or lack confidence in a certain area of your life. Whatever it is that you are dreaming of and striving for, let me remind you of something: you were MADE ENOUGH. Nothing we strive and dream for will make us more or less. No reputation or job or hobby can ever bring us true satisfaction. Every. single. thing. in our lives WILL let us down at some point. God, however, will not. He made us enough from the beginning when He created us in His image. Maybe it seems counterintuitive that we should dream and also be enough at the same time, but it’s absolutely not.
Your King created you with the very desires and skills and talents that currently reside in you. He wants us to dream and grow and be transformed through the renewing of our minds so that we can be effective in loving and reaching His people. If we park too much in the “self-made rockstar” mindset that we see all over social media which can seem so appealing and motivational, we end up a prideful fake version of what He really intends for us. Rather, let’s walk in the complete God-given confidence that we were prequalified and hand stamped “enough” from our very beginning.
YOU were “made ENOUGH”.
P.s. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Spill your dreams, thoughts, stories or encouragements in the comments below.