Category Archives: parenting

Why I Go to Church Without My Husband

Nearly every Sunday, I line my little ones up for a quick picture before we go into church. It’s just a fun thing I do because I like looking back at the photos as they change over time. I often share them on Facebook or Instagram, and it never fails, every few weeks someone comments or messages me asking, “HOW do you do it?!” The “it” being get 5 kids dressed up and to church weekly. Well, I just do. The same way some moms get 1, 2, or 6 kids up, dressed, and out the door to school every day. It’s important, so we do it, even if it’s not easy.
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Over the years, there have been many, many Sundays when I have carried a baby on my hip and/or held the hands of little ones as we crossed a parking lot, found classrooms, and made our way to seats at church. Unfortunately, a larger number than I care to count of those trips were done alone, without my husband beside me, especially over the last couple of years. Neither of us have enjoyed this situation, but it is what it is. My husband doesn’t like missing church, and I don’t like going alone. He’s also super helpful when it comes to getting kids ready and out the door. However, his job complicates things, and he can’t always go to church with us. Currently, he’s only able to go every other week. The other weeks, I’m on my own. He’ll help me get them out the door if he’s still at home, but I can’t get up counting on his help because if he gets a call and has to go, I’m left scrambling and unprepared. Been there. Done that.

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When I show up with our crew, I usually get surprised looks and comments like, “Wow! Supermom!” I usually smile and laugh, but if little ears weren’t listening I’d tell those onlookers, “No. Exhausted mom.” Because by that point, I am.

I’ve dressed and fed them, combed hair, made ponytails, helped with requests for cologne or “smell goods,” changed diapers, refilled sippy cups, found lost shoes, herded kids to the car, buckled seat belts, taken a kid back inside to potty, retrieved dropped hair bows and blankets, driven nearly an hour, gone over our plan and expectations, found lost shoes again, found lost hair bows again, unloaded our van, and herded them across a busy parking lot. At that point it’s only about 2/3 over. Before I get to sit down, we will make our way through a crowded building to the bathroom, help 2 go potty, wash hands, stop at the water fountain, make our way back through the crowd to check everyone in, then drop kids off on three different halls in 2 different buildings. Sometimes Most of the time I’m sweating by the time they’re safely in their classrooms. I probably don’t even look like the same woman that walked in the door with them. 🙂

I don’t say this to brag. At all. I say all that to tell you, it’s not easy. Most of the time I wouldn’t call it hard necessarily (unless you’ve been up all night with a baby and you’re running on 3 hours of broken sleep. Then it’s hard. Very hard.), but it is work – a lot of work. It does require planning, energy, and dedication. I don’t have it all together. When we leave our house on Sunday mornings, more often than not it looks like someone broke in and ransacked the place. Not to mention, the pictures should speak for themselves. They certainly are not frame worthy every week.

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But it’s worth it. Very worth it. Even on the Sundays when things have gone terribly, terribly wrong, there has always been that one part in the sermon, or one comment from a friend or stranger, or that moment of Peace during a favorite song that reminded me why I did it that morning and encouraged me to keep going. I’ve learned that God gives strength to the weak and rest to the weary. I’ve learned that people you have no idea exist (because you’re busy counting heads and rushing to the potty) are watching you and the example you set, good or bad. The few weeks I have stayed home and deemed it to be too much work, I have always regretted my decision.

Mamas, take your babies to church, even when it means going without your husband. I believe those may be even more important Sundays because the effort you put in shows your children that even when it’s not easy, and it is exhausting, it’s worth it. It’s important to go and worship with other believers. It’s important to join with a church family and learn and serve together. Church isn’t just something we do when it’s convenient or easy. It’s part of life, and life is messy.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the day approaching.” Heb. 10:24-25

It’s worth it.

 

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A few good books

It’s probably no secret, I love to read. I definitely didn’t do enough of it last year though. I think I finished 2, maybe 3, books? Maybe it was 4. I’m not really sure, but I know the last several weeks, I’ve been glued to a book most nights while I waited to win the war with my children over bedtime. I’ve shared a few quotes from some of them on Twitter and Instagram and had several ask what books they came from, so I decided to compile a short list of some of the most recent books I have read or am currently reading. One of the books I started a couple of years ago (and sadly still haven’t finished!) suggested moms could benefit from, as often as possible, choosing books that were both interesting, but also encouraging or educating. While I do enjoy reading fiction, I’ve found that over the last few years, my heart hasn’t been in it as much. So, without further explanation, here are a few reading recommendations for those looking to start out the new year with a new book.

Tender Mercy for a Mother’s Soul: Inspiration to Renew Your Spirit
book cover  By Angela Thomas
  This was given to me by a good friend, and I’ve read it in full twice and also read bits and pieces here and there just because I love it that much. Lots of helpful insight and encouragement all in one little book. I’m beginning to think the best books by moms for moms are the shorter ones. Those are the moms/authors that get it, and understand that I do not have time to read a lengthy book in a short amount of time anymore, and I will get annoyed and discouraged by that fact if I try.

 

Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches
book cover for Loving the Little YearsBy Rachel Jankovic
Another book that was gifted to me that I am oh, so thankful for! As a mama of three tinys and one on the way, this one was very encouraging. It’s also another short book that packs the good stuff in without taking up lots of extra pages a mom of little kids doesn’t have time to read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Decades of Fertility
By: Natalie Klewja, Carmon Friedrich, et al.
I came across this ebook through the blog of onebook cover of the authors and it immediately piqued my interest. I finally bought the Kindle version of it just a couple of weeks ago, and I am really enjoying it so far. Each of the authors does a good job of being very real about life and pregnancy as a mother of many and how God has blessed them and taught them amazing things through letting HIM have control over every aspect of their lives, even the very private part that our culture tells us to take control of.

 

Life Interrupted
By Priscilla Shirer
9781433670459_cvr_web-1  Another one that I am currently reading. This was also a gift from a friend. Really, my friend Heather magically finds way more reading time than I have and she has awesome taste in reading material. I adore this book for so many reasons. I’ve already gifted a copy to someone else, and I haven’t even finished it. This is a great book for anyone dealing with big or small “interruptions” in their life.

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Motherhood: Live a life worthy of it

Moms…

Was yesterday a bad day? It was for me. Really, bad isn’t the word. Terrible? Nope, still doesn’t fit. Anyway, you get the picture.

Don’t dwell on it. Pray. Repent.

Repent at my rebuke!  Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,  I will make known to you my teachings. (Proverbs 1:23)

Hug the sleepy little one that just shuffled down the hall to sit with you on the couch. Write a scripture or two on your hand, and pour a cup of coffee.

Look at your children and remember your calling. Motherhood.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (Ephesians 4:1)

Live your life today worthy of that calling.
Live a life worthy of the children God blessed you with.
Live a life worthy of the hugs and laughter.
Live a life worthy of the tears.
Live a life worthy of the hot baths (however rare they may be).
Live a life worthy of the messes.
Live a life worthy of the late nights.
Live a life worthy of seeing the sun rise.
Live a life worthy of the crying baby and ornery toddler than gave you both of those.
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Live a life worthy of your calling.

Live a life worthy of being chef.
Live a life worthy of being housekeeper.
Live a life worthy of being laundress.
Live a life worthy of being taxi driver.
Live a life worthy of being personal assistant.
Live a life worthy of being teacher.
Live a life worthy of being wife.
Live a life worthy of being friend.
Live a life worthy of being missionary.
Live a life worthy of being mom.

Live a life worthy of your calling.


Don’t expect to do and be all those things perfectly. We are not perfect. Live a life worthy of those opportunities and blessings though.
God gave us all of these because He wanted us to have them. We didn’t earn them. We were blessed with them.

my boys sitting together

my baby girl at almost 9 months

 

 

(This is just as much, if not more,a post for myself as it is for you.)

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WFMW: Table Chores for Littles

On this Works For Me Wednesday: making life easier with lots of littles… Oh, and teaching those littles some responsibility too 🙂

I have 2 1/2 year old and 3 year old boys, (and an almost 9 month old girl) so there is lots of cleaning and picking up at our house every day, but obviously their house cleaning skills and abilities are a bit limited. However, since we recently downsized to a 900-1000 square foot rental home with no dishwasher and very limited laundry area, I was pretty excited to get the boys started helping out with chores. I started by letting them help with dishes, but that proved to just be too much for them at this point. With their limited attention spans, it turned into a bigger mess for me. Then I tried “table chores.” Oh, what a difference such a simple thing has made in my life!

After breakfast, lunch, and snacks the boys are responsible for putting any scraps of food from their plates in the trash, putting their plates and utensils in the sink and their cups on the counter. I then give them each a wet rag to clean the table and chairs. After I’ve inspected their work, I give them a dry towel to dry it all. This must be done before they move on to the next activity. If they finish eating before everyone else, they sit at the table until we finish. After supper is a super busy time, so I haven’t had them help with that yet. These chores are simple enough for them to handle with little supervision, allowing me to get started on washing the dishes or putting away the dry ones from our last meal, but still being close enough to keep them on task and give instructions.

my son cleaning a chair

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Rejoicing comes in the morning

Having three young children is a joy, but it is also difficult. Add to that them being very close in age, moving to a new town, downsizing your home (by about 250 sq. ft.), losing almost all your family help and babysitters to distance, and a husband working 50-80 hours each week, and you have a recipe for a very stressed, exhausted, overwhelmed mama. I almost became that mother. I let The Enemy tear me down. For months. It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was very, very ugly. I had prayed for this opportunity for my family for years, but the answer God handed us didn’t look anything like the answer I thought we would get. This answer was hard, uncomfortable, and for a long time, lonely. And to be transparent, it still is those things some days.

But, late one night I was standing in the kitchen washing a huge pile of dishes for probably the 4th time that day, staring out the window at the plain little house behind ours with tears streaming down my face. I was wishing I was looking at a rice field with a single tree standing in the distance – my kitchen window view for the past 20 years. I remembered a book I had once read about a mother in a similar tiny home with lots of littles. Basically, she found herself crying over some chore at midnight and started singing praises to God, so I did the same.

running water in the kitchen sink

“Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name…”

I reminded myself, happy or sad, smooth sailing or difficult trials, God is still worthy of praise and obviously my whining and pity party wasn’t going to help anything. Even through my tears, I recognized my blessings and His worthiness.

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

The next morning I felt better than I had in months. I suddenly realized Satan wasn’t winning anymore, but he had been. As long as he kept me feeling lonely and overwhelmed, he was silencing me. I wasn’t telling anyone about the awesome blessings God had given me in my children and how He had taken care of us and blessed our entire family. Rejoicing comes in the morning… when that bright light breaks through the horizon and highlights all those shadows you were staring at in the darkness. Then you see what was making those shadows. Miles separated my husband and I for years, but He made our marriage strong. Then he brought us back together on this new journey. He answered my prayers that our firstborn would have a wonderful bond with my husband, despite the time spent apart. My second son will never remember Daddy not being home all week, and for that I am grateful. Lincoln still asks if Daddy is coming home nearly every day, and it breaks my heart…but that’s a shadow of the amazing bond they share.

There will always be hard days. After all, being Mama to lots of littles isn’t for sissies. 🙂 However, now a few lines from the song Trading My Sorrows always comes to mind when I’m feeling frustrated at washing dishes for the 4th time in the same day, or my ears are ringing from the sound of the dryer echoing off the tile in the kitchen all day, and when I’m really just having a pity party because I don’t have a yard where I can send the rowdy boys out to play.

…I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord…

Singing to my Lord reminds me that every step of my day is a step in which I can worship Him, even if it is through scrubbing dishes or teaching my cooped up wild ones how to do jumping jacks to burn off some energy*. It’s not about me. It’s about me laying down my own discomforts and selfish desires and saying “Yes Lord, I’ll do this now for my family and meet their needs,” or “Yes Lord, I won’t complain. I will be thankful for this situation because I’m truly blessed to be seeing my husband every day.” I’m not alone. He’s by my side. He does care. That’s why I am here. I will look past those shadows to the blessings. And I will continue to tell the world of those blessings.

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever. (Psalm 30:11-12)

God answers our prayers, but not always how we want. They’re still answers though, and that is worth rejoicing over. Maybe even more so than when we get the answers we do want. Those surprises show that we serve an amazing God that sees all and knows all, and chooses to give us what we need instead of what we want, and certainly not what we deserve.

*Am I the only linewife that can’t type energy without accidentally typing Entergy first? :-p

TheBetterMom.com

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I’m a Mama of Wild Ones

I’m a mama of two Wild Ones. I’m proud of them.

A friend of mine just posted on Facebook a link to THIS article from Lysa TerKeurst.

Wow. She hit the nail on the head. If you are (or aren’t) a parent to wild ones, read it. I am so glad I did. Her description of her daughter’s antics at the mall, could have easily been a scene for my life. Oh wait, there was a very similar situation with my oldest son and a friend’s toilet… More than once I have left a playdate in tears, feeling like I must be doing something wrong. None of the other children act that way? What did their parents do differently? No one else has to chase their laughing toddler through the restaurant because he could open all the doors before the age of 2 and refuses to stay in the play area! The other kids aren’t more interested in exploring the whole house, instead of playing with the toys. No one else has to ask for a new high chair, one with a working seat belt… At times I’ve even been treated by other moms as if I must be doing something wrong. It’s not uncommon for strangers to give my children dirty looks, or give heavy sighs as we go by.

With having wild boys, I have realized that so many people don’t get it. They don’t see what I do, and they sure can’t see what lies ahead. They assume we are doing something wrong in our parenting methods, never considering that God made my boys the way they are for a reason. Both of my boys are curious, unafraid to tackle a new challenge on their own, and love to learn from experience. How do those people think adults become that way? They start out that way, as little wild ones. 🙂 They both have the biggest, sweetest hugs imaginable – hugs that aren’t just reserved for mommy but are also for friends, family members, pets, church leaders, babysitters, and each other. Sometimes I get more joy from seeing them hug someone else than when they hug me. I’m their mom. They are born with strings tying their hearts to mine. I meet their daily needs and kiss their boo-boos. They are choosing to love others with those hugs though. The Boy is a born leader – no question about that one 🙂 Brother is an encourager, both to his big brother’s antics and to his mommy every morning when I think it’s too early to get up, but he’s there smiling at me and jumping in his bed. His laughter is infectious. I have always said that I can’t wait to see what amazing things God has in store for my spirited boys. What on earth could require so much energy, fearlessness, creativity, and love? It must be something big. But sometimes it is hard to remember that when you are dealing with rude comments and stares from strangers and people you know, and you’re chasing two toddlers going in opposite directions.

Last week, an older gentleman paused as he approached me in the aisle of a local bookstore. My heart sank; I knew he was going to say something negative or give a big sigh, and I really didn’t have the time, energy, or emotional strength to deal with it that day. I was chasing my oldest toddler across the store, trying to keep him from emptying the shelves or running out the door, while my dad held my youngest toddler (upside down, by his legs) to keep him from emptying the shelves. All I wanted was to get one sheet of stickers and have 3 pieces of paper laminated. (That sounded a lot easier before we entered the the store, found out the lamination machine needed to be turned on and heated up, and one of my sons decided that was  great time for a dirty diaper.) That man didn’t sigh though. He smiled and said, “Don’t get upset. They will grow out of it. Don’t get upset, Mama.” I could have cried, and almost did.

You see,  just that morning I had attempted to take the boys to the park for a picnic and some playtime before running a couple of errands. My husband had been out of town for most of the week for work, and had left that morning to take some fence posts to my grandma’s farm. I couldn’t put the errands off anymore, and the weather was nice for the first time in weeks. We made our way to the park, but after feeding Brother and eating my own lunch, The Boy was still screaming hysterically because I was cruelly making him sit with me instead of running off to play by himself without eating his lunch. While so many little ones want to drag mommy and daddy to the playground, he would gladly take off on his own adventure. Lots of people just ignored him, but a few people were not so kind. I heard more than one rude comment and saw lots of stares. Sometimes I feel like a ticking time bomb; I’m waiting to kick a stranger in the shins and scream, “I’m sorry you had perfect little girls that were too afraid of upsetting someone to be disobedient or a little boy who was too much of a mamas boy to leave your side for 5 minutes until he was 25! That’s not my kid! Deal with it!”  Then God sends that one person to give me an encouraging word or a helping hand, and reminds me that someday I will be that compassionate lady in the grocery store, mixing a bottle for the stressed out mama with two crying babies, unaware that it’s the first time she’s left the house alone with both of them, she hasn’t seen her husband in almost a week, she just had to juggle both of them to pee and change the newborn’s diaper in the dirty bathroom with no counter or changing table, and three other women walked by her without even giving an encouraging smile. (I would love to see that lady again, so I could give her a hug!) I also pray that on that day, my wild ones will be using their adventurous spirits and loving hearts for whatever God has planned for them.

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Lesson #1 Let them eat dog food.

Lately I’ve I’ve been thinking back over some of the parenting lessons I have learned over the last two years. Today I’ll share one of those.

Often parents remark about how you hover less as the number of children in your home increases.You realize the little things aren’t going to harm them and are able to let them be more independent, messy, dirty, loud, messy, adventurous, silly, and did I mention messy?

I was told many times before The Boy was a year old that I was, “extremely laid-back for a first time mom.” I always shrugged it off as being a result of my personality and my husband traveling so much. I also think it had a lot to do with me being exhausted though. Have you tried being 6 months pregnant and chasing a crawling baby across the house, only to have to hold that baby down and attempt to change his diaper while he, quite literally, stood on his head and left elbow to get away, kicking you the entire time? Yeah, it left little energy for dragging him down off whatever he was climbing on for the 100th time that day. It didn’t help matters that he was very coordinated from the beginning and didn’t fall when climbing. I knew he could do it, so why worry?

There was one thing I was constantly battling though. The Boy’s obsession with eating things drove me crazy! Baby gates blocked every doorway and I put everything away – dog food was moved to my bedroom and crayons were in a drawer and hardly used. No joke, he ate finger paints until he was 2. (Rarely was painting done in our house until recently. )

Then Brother came along! If I was “extremely laid-back” about things with my first son, I probably really scare other moms with my second son!

Lesson #1 (It wasn’t the first thing I learned, but for writing purposes that’s what we will call it.)
Let them eat dog food.

Now, before anyone panics and calls Child Protective Services, I’m not recommending you feed your children pet food. Definitely not. However, there are only so many hoops you can jump through, and so many places you can hide stuff. Millions of kids have grabbed a handful of Kibbles or a dog biscuit and crammed it in their mouth before mom or dad could get it away from them. I did it, and I’m betting you did it if you grew up with pets in your home.

Thankfully, Brother has not shared in The Boy’s habit of eating everything. He does, however, show the same love for dog food that his older brother did. Today was no different. The dogs had left a few pieces in one of the bowls in the kitchen, and I didn’t realize it until I was halfway between the refrigerator and the counter, arms loaded with leftovers I was getting out for lunch, and little brother was 2 feet from the bowl. I started toward him, immediately realizing it was pointless. “Have at it son. If you think it’s that tasty…”

It was not just about dog food though. It wasn’t even about realizing it was not necessary to drop everything, trip over the open dishwasher, and accidentally kick the dog just to pry open his mouth to dig out dog food, crayons, dirt, or any other non-food item I knew to be non-toxic that he could safely chew.
It was about that word I posted about yesterday. Joy. Today, like so many other times, keeping the boys out of the dog food, paint, or whatever mess it might have been, was not about protecting them. As usual, it was something that I know isn’t actually harmful. I just didn’t want to deal with a big mess or having to clean a dirty face and hands again. Was it really worth the fight of trying to pull the dog food out of his hands, making him furious, and probably causing me to spill our food everywhere? I decided it wasn’t. A little extra mess would be okay. If only I can remember that more often! If they want to get muddy and dirty outside, that has always been fine and dandy with me, but inside…oh inside the house is a different story. Well, where’s the joy in that for a little boy? Next week I’m planning at least two messy activities. (There. It’s in print, so I have to do it now.)

I went on with making lunch, and Brother happily helped himself to the last few pieces of dog food. Oh well, someday he will realize it tastes disgusting. Until then, I guess I won’t have to worry about him not liking anything I cook!

Isn’t it amazing how children teach us things through the smallest everyday events?

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