Breaking the Mold

Learning to be who God made me to be

Okay with Okay for the Holidays — December 9, 2016

Okay with Okay for the Holidays

This holiday season has been a bit of a struggle for me.
“No time! There’s no time!” “I can’t even make the rolls!” “Has Benjamin even done school this week?!”

We’ve had a big year of transitions (well really just a few months that feel like a year). Our church has started a second campus of which my husband is a co-coordinator along with continuing his youth pastor duties and I’ve started a new part-time job as a science teacher twice a week. Oh, and we’re also trying to finish up our addition on the house, our youngest turned 1, our middle is potty-trained(ing) and our oldest started “kindergarten”.

Yeh, I know…

Honestly, I feel accomplished if I have a day without a mountain of laundry at the foot of my bed or I remembered to have Benjamin actually do his school-time for the day (but hey what’s homeschooling for if you can’t be flexible?). So when the holidays were approaching, I decided I was going to be okay with just okay for the holidays.

My children enjoy the Christmas music (when I remember to turn some on), and our sugar cookies so far haven’t made it past the bowl we mixed the dough in. We’ve only watched one Christmas movie (A Charlie Brown Christmas) and only half the lights on our tree actually work. I’ve missed all the Christmas parades and don’t really plan on driving around to see lights. And you know what? My kids DON’T EVEN CARE! I had to start making choices. Was I going to try to “do it all” to look/feel like a good mom… or was I going to BE a good mom and just allow some things to slide.

We’ve chosen just one thing to really focus on this year; learning about the birth of Jesus. This year I’m using an advent story called The Truth in the Tinsel. It lays it all out for you. Which verses to read, discussion questions and a little craft. READ THIS: I AM NOT A CRAFTY PERSON. But these are super simple and the kids love them! I have been pleasantly surprised by how much they remember each night from the previous ones!

So if we do nothing else this holiday season, i.e. see the lights, parades, visits with Santa, actually baking the sugar cookies, etc., I know that we will have done what’s most important. If my kids can enjoy me and not deal with the me who is stressing out over all the “should haves” and “need tos”, we will have done what is most important.

So I encourage you to take some time and evaluate if maybe you also need to be okay with just okay this holiday.

 

Merry Christmas!

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The Duplo That Broke the Dam — July 8, 2016

The Duplo That Broke the Dam

This morning we were all playing with Duplo blocks in the boys’ room before Johnathan had to go to work. I love this kind of play because it’s a little more subdued than some of the other forms of play my boys usually get into… so I thought.

My boys are obsessed with super heroes. Any kind, any story. Any character can be changed into a super hero just by adding “super” to the front of their name. And as with any good super hero story, there must also be a villain. Enter: Cake Robot. A character J and the boys developed during their bedtime ritual of “short story” (which usually aren’t very short…). J built a Duplo version of Cake Robot while Isaac was Superman. I’m playing on the floor with Rosalee when BAM! Cake Robot right to my head. Holy Toledo that hurt!

All of a sudden I felt myself breaking down, essentially sobbing in front of my family. I mean it hurt, but did it really hurt that bad? I left the room because my children didn’t really know what to do with mom crying and I didn’t really know why I was so upset. Johnathan was visibly concerned  about my reaction thinking maybe I had a concussion, but I couldn’t bring myself to talk about it at that moment. Despite his best efforts to lighten the mood I was in a funk of sadness.

After about 20 minutes, Johnathan nailed it on the head. He told me, “You were hit in the head, but it hurt your heart.” (man do I love this guy). And that was it exactly.

It had felt intentional, even though I KNEW it wasn’t. Like my kids were finally so tired of mom telling them what to do, being grumpy, making them nap, not letting them have dessert, etc. that they just launched a huge duplo creation at my head. But my kids haven’t learned how to hold grudges, so why would I think this?

I think it was really my guilt about my parenting skills/success (or lack there of). As if this final example of their disobedience or carelessness was a reflection on my failure to teach them right and wrong. As though they’d finally seen through the façade of mom and saw me for the broken, angry person I am. Like I deserved it…

Ouch.

Now where would I get that idea?

Has my husband ever said something like that to me? Have my children? My family? My friends?

No.

What about the world?

Ah, there it is.

So no one has told me explicitly that I’m a failure, but somehow I’ve allowed the lies of the world to slither into my vision for my family. All the blogs/articles/Facebook posts that I’ve read over the last 6 years of parenthood have condensed into this idealistic vision for my family. Like the serpent in the garden telling Eve that, “God is wrong, this isn’t all there is, you can do more, be more, know more!”This vision, often unmet by my very real and often sinful offspring has bred discontent that I’ve buried. I know that I shouldn’t have these expectations and yet I also feel that I should be able to do better, be better and have better behaved/educated/skilled children.

All of this welled up from my heart in that instant of pain. It overwhelmed me like a dam breaking and I wasn’t ready. Honestly, I’m probably still not ready to face the things God has been trying to show me, but God’s ready.

Ready for me to learn that I am loved, even at my most unlovable moments. That when I do fail, His grace covers it and seeps into the brokenness of my relationships with my kids and my husband. God’s grace…

It’s not just for those visibly broken. It’s for me too. The one who looks like I have it all together when really I’m just a Duplo away from the dam breaking.

I am reminded that everyday is a battle, often with things we can’t see. As such I turn to Ephesians 6:10-18 for the Armor of God:

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith,with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

 

What about you? What voice do you choose to give authority in your life?

Be Anchored — March 23, 2016

Be Anchored

So much is happening this time of year it’s overwhelming. I recently told one of my friends that I felt like I was failing at life right now. You know the story. House is a wreck, the kids are constantly fighting and the baby is still waking up 3 times a night. You try to meal plan and then forget, you also forget about the load of clothes in the washer that have been there for a day (or 2?) already. By the time the husband comes home and the kids are in bed, all you can do is sit on the couch, in an almost stupor, and think about all the things you’d wanted to do that day.

SO… it’s been one of those weeks/months. I’ve been swinging back and forth from feeling like I’m on top of things to feeling completely overwhelmed.

Yesterday I brought a blanket outside for my 6 mo old to roll around on while her brothers romped through the backyard. They decided the blanket was much more interesting so they came and sat. After a bit we decided to roll a ball around and then it rolled off the blanket. When my 2-year-old ran off to get it, all of a sudden I just yelled, “Swim Isaac!” and instantly our blanket became a boat in an ocean and we spent the afternoon sailing around the world finding wild animals and weathering storms.

Our blanket "boat" and my 3 hardy sailors.
Our blanket “boat” and my 3 hardy sailors.

I don’t know why I yelled that…normally it takes a lot for me to stop thinking about the things that need doing and to just be with my kids. To spend those few minutes and spark their imagination in a way they hadn’t thought of yet. I normally can’t stand to just sit and play with my kids. I know that sounds terrible, but I also know several moms who are right there with me. BUT.

I realized that God was calling me, in that moment on our “boat”, to let go. Let go of my anxiety about the state of the house. Let go of my frustration about how much time I wasn’t getting with my husband during this Easter season. Let go of my feeling of inadequacy as a mom as my kids continue to bicker and yell.

God called me to release these struggles. To toss them overboard so that I might be anchored in who HE is.

Truth is, your struggles will either weigh you down until your drowning in overwhelm and despair, or they’ll anchor you in the provision and mercy and grace of our heavenly father. BUT only if you let them go first.

I am choosing to be anchored in God, who has shown me, over and over, His desire for me to be close to him. Be anchored in the God who, time and again, has provided for us (to the point even, that my house is stuffed with stuff!). Be anchored in the God who cares about my worries, no matter how trivial. Be anchored in the hope, mercy and grace he gives me as a wife and mother.

What will you choose? Will you be weighed down or will you be anchored?

 

So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls[…]

Hebrews 6:18-19 (emphasis mine)

Revamping My Time with God: Open Heart, Open Home — September 29, 2015

Revamping My Time with God: Open Heart, Open Home

So over the last month or so I’ve been noticing a real dryness in my spiritual life. I knew what I needed to be doing each day. I knew how I needed to act (or react) towards my children and husband. But  I just felt…dry. As a mom it’s hard for us to make time to invest in things outside of our children. So much of our time is given over to these little beings that we love so much. But can we truly love them if we’re not investing in a relationship with God? Sure, but will it be a picture of Christ-like love? Probably not. I can attest to that.

So I decided that I needed to revamp my study habits. I was mostly motivated by a podcast I started listening to during nap time/folding laundry. Inspired to Action is a blog/podcast just for moms! Kat does a wonderful job of hitting topics that we can all relate too and providing resources that will encourage and inspire you to action! She has one that talks about “Maximizing Your Morning”. Now, I just had a baby, so there’s only so much “maximizing my mornings” I’m doing right now other than nursing a baby 2-3 times a night, BUT I understand the motivation for doing this! I know the amount of stuff I can get done during a 30 minute or longer nap time, so what could I do with an hour in the morning when the littles haven’t disassembled half the house?

Kat tells you to focus on 3 things in the mornings. God. Plan. Move. So I’ve been trying to do this with at least reading my phone Bible during the 4 am nursing time. It’s been good to start something consistent. TODAY though B-dawg wasn’t feeling well and by some miracle ALL THREE of the kids napped at the same time! So I took this time to really dig in to a Bible study method that I’d been wanting to try. It’s promoted by Courtney Joseph of Women Living Well. She has a whole group called “Good Morning Girls” that you HAVE to check out! It’s simple and quick. I was a little weirded out by coloring in my Bible, but it’s actually kind of fun! Also, one chapter a day? Easy. So if you feel that you don’t have time for a in-depth study or you don’t want to continue to spend money on studies and devotionals that are going to sit on a shelf *cough cough* this is a great option for you! I especially love the SOAK method. This is what I learned from today’s reading.

S – Scripture

When she [Lydia] and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us. Acts 16:15

O – Observation

Lydia felt the need to provide for fellow believers in need. She offered her home, and most likely food, to men she’d just met out of the JOY of being saved! Maybe she felt it was the least she could do for the folks that had saved her and her entire household.

A – Application

We should be willing to open our homes if/when the opportunities arise, regardless of the “inconvenience” we may feel at having our space invaded.

K – Kneel in prayer

Dear Lord, help me to see the times of opening my home as an opportunity to love others and not as an inconvenience. Help me not to worry about the tidiness of my home to the exclusion of investing in the lives of others.

Lydia didn’t stop to consider the state of her home. Were the dishes washed? The floors swept? The guest room made ready? She only saw fellow believers in need and without hesitation offered her home.How many times have we passed on showing hospitality because our home was a veritable disaster zone. Let me be honest with you, with 2 boys and a newborn, my home is pretty much this way 6 out of 7 days a week. But this one verse out of the whole chapter has challenged me to make hospitality something to be sought and not avoided or resented.

So even with my just beginning to get back into reading (I’ll write another post later about why I feel reading printed text is better than on a screen) I feel that God is being faithful to show me truths revealed through out His word.

Your turn!

Do you have a morning routine? Do you get up before the littles? What have you read recently that spoke to or challenged you?

New Mom x 3 — September 28, 2015

New Mom x 3

Little sister is finally here! Well, she came 3 weeks ago, but I’m just now starting to feel “normal” again. She was born on Labor Day (insert Labor Day and labor joke here) and she came really fast. I started having contractions on Saturday morning, but nothing consistent so I wasn’t really sure what was happening. Then after we got the boys to bed Sunday night, they just took off! We left for the hospital after the sitters arrived and we jump-started the truck (…yeh we had to jump the vehicle we were trying to take to the hospital). Got there around 11:30 pm and she was here by 12:35am! She missed her actual due date by 35 minutes ya’ll!

I have been pleasantly surprised by the transition from 2 kids to 3. Granted right now all Little Sister does is eat, sleep and poop (oh my, the poop!).You know, baby stuff. The boys LOVE her and are huge helpers. Isaac especially has surprised me. He is the first to look for the baby if she’s not in the room, if she’s crying, or during a diaper change. He makes sure she has everything that she needs and will give her pats and say “it’s oday disder” (It’s okay sister). SO CUTE! I imagine that it will all change once Sister becomes a little more active, but all things considered we have been blessed with an easy transition.

I do have to admit that having a newborn again has been weird. She’s a pretty good sleeper and gives me about 3-4 hours at a time.

Homeschooling-So far I’ve learned… — September 3, 2015

Homeschooling-So far I’ve learned…

Last week we officially started our 4.5 year old on a homeschool program called “Classical Conversations“.
It has really been amazing to see what he’s learned in just 2 weeks! BUT it also brings out my *cough* not so nice mom *cough* side.

Maybe it’s because I’m 10 months pregnant (yeh we’ll go with that), but most likely it’s because I have, yet again, started my day by reading through FB, instagram, etc. instead of doing something worthwhile. You know, like getting up earlier than the ya-hoos and reading the Bible/praying? But I think that’s the struggle for any and every mom amiright?

So far I’ve learned:

  1. My child understands more than I think he does
  2. I understand way LESS than I thought I did
  3. I thought I was patient
  4. Lots of prayer…

CC is also a great program because they provide a community that you can  lean on! The groups meet once a week and the kids go to little “classes” and a tutor (because YOU are your child’s teacher) go over the memory work for the week. The students also give presentations every week. Yes, even my 4.5 year old does a presentation every week! It’s amazing! If you’ve ever thought about homeschooling but think you’re not patient enough, not educated enough, insert other reason here, I’d tell you to reconsider. It’s a good growth opportunity for you and your children. I don’t know your situation, but I do know that if God has placed homeschooling on your heart/mind, then you can bet that He will equip you to do it!

B-Dawg's First Community Day
B-Dawg’s First Community Day
The tri-fold isn't up on the wall anymore. We fold it and put it away when we're not doing school time.
The tri-fold isn’t up on the wall anymore. We fold it and put it away when we’re not doing school time.
No “Test” in my Testimony — November 22, 2014

No “Test” in my Testimony

When someone asks for a volunteer to share their testimony I always shrink away. My life has been, for the most part, uneventful compared to testimonies I’d heard. I had no life-change moments. No rock-bottoms that God had lifted me from. No terrible home-life. So why would anyone want to hear about my bland, nondescript dedication to Christ?

My life hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns for sure, but I have a loving husband and two great kids. We live near a great church family that provides for us in times of need (seriously tho, we were homeless for 1 week and had so many folks opening their homes to us it was overwhelming). I get to stay home most of the week/days with my sons and home-school. We might not make a lot of money but we pay the bills and have food to eat and even have extra here and there for fun! God has blessed us.

So why would this ^^ make a good testimony? Well the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the fact that my life has been relatively simple is a testimony in and of itself. I think back through decisions I COULD have made, situations that COULD have turned out worse, opportunities I COULD have taken/not taken. All those forks on the road in my life that would have me somewhere completely different and being someone else. That’s my testimony! God has saved me from bad decisions time and time again. He was guiding my steps long before I realized what the consequences would have been for ignoring His promptings. It all falls back to Jeremiah 29:11, a verse that some say is “overused” but can scripture really ever be overused? I don’t think so.


 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.

“They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”


So when you sit down and look at your life and think that your testimony is not worth sharing. I’m here to tell you that EVERY testimony is worth sharing. God has a plan and purpose for us all and people need to know that even the “ordinary” among us, who think we’re “good people” still need the love and salvation offered to us through Christ.

Have you ever shied away from sharing your testimony? What’s holding you back?

Ties that Bind — November 4, 2014

Ties that Bind

Do you remember how hard it was learning to tie your shoes? I do! It was an impossible task! Why couldn’t my mom just continue to buy me those awesome velcro shoes? OR even better yet those sweet jelly sandals! So what if they gave me blisters!

Well I’ve realized that learning to tie ourselves together in unity is also a difficult task. Whether it is unity with my spouse, family, friends or my church. I have to WORK at it. I have to practice. I need mentors and people who have been tying themselves to Christ’s family longer than me, to show me how it’s done.


As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 

Ephesians 4:1-6 (NLT; emphasis mine)


This verse uses the word “one” 7 times. Why is that significant? Because 7 is used in the Bible as a symbol of completion, wholeness or oneness if you will. So what Paul is telling us is that if I want to have the full unity with God and with others, I need to practice humbleness versus pride. Gentleness versus harshness. Patience versus impatience.

Easy? NO. But neither was learning to tie my shoe. Is it worth it? Well I know how much happier I was when I didn’t have to stop playing to find an adult to tie my shoe again. Unity also requires sacrifice. I have to be willing to put aside selfish things, give up time that I often feel I don’t have enough of anyway and invest in relationships. Learning to tie my shoes was a sign of maturity, just like working at binding myself as one within the body of Christ is a sign of the spirit’s maturity within me.

As I mature I realize that those things that were once so difficult (sacrificing time, money, pride etc) are really just part of learning to walk upright and with confidence. Knowing that these ties that bind are hard-pressed to come undone.

When Facebook Becomes a Mirror — August 26, 2014

When Facebook Becomes a Mirror

James 1: 23-25 NLT 

For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.


I have begun to slowly withdraw myself from the world of Facebook and it is hard. Why is it so hard? I have been using FB since my senior year of HS 8 years ago and it was never this hard to just go without. I guess 8 years is long enough for something to become ingrained in your routine. But I started to notice that in my down-time all I was doing was checking FB. I had to remove it from my phone because I would sit on the couch checking for that little blue indicator instead of getting down on the floor and playing with my boys.

As I was reading through a book I read something that struck me as so significant that I now eschew checking FB at all except when my boys are napping or in bed. The author made the comment that while it was hard not to update FB, who really needs to know or even cares about the minutia of my day? Sure people will “like” my status about what I finally decided to make for dinner (A post about why meal planning matters HERE). But how does that really make their day any better?

Furthermore I realized I was becoming like the person in James 1. Facebook was my mirror and the instant I walked away from it, I’d forget what I looked like and would have to go check it again. I would share and like all the “God is Awesome”, “Like this if you love Jesus” posts but what was I doing? Was I reading my Bible during nap time? No. Was I praying for my friends and family? No. Was I pouring myself into someone’s life or investing time to make my house a home? No. I was checking my reflection because in the 10 minutes I walked away someone may have liked or commented on my status. I was a listener/”liker” of The Word but I was not a doer.

I still use FB, but in a much different way. I’m limiting my posts and even my pictures. I use it for communication if no other source is available. I’ve quit all games and have limited the number of groups to ones that are relevant and that I actually use on a regular basis. Furthermore, I am making the effort to check FB at most twice a day. I have been doing this for almost a week now and I already feel a difference in my home.

I want to hear God speaking to me again and I know that the only way to really turn up the volume on God is to turn down the volume on my notifications.

What is FB to you?

I am Made New — August 25, 2014

I am Made New

If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. Either way, Christ’s love controls us….So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

2 Corinthians 5: 13-14, 16-17 NLT (emphasis mine)


Have you seen all the DIY, refashion this piece of junk into something beautiful, trendy and functional how-to’s on Pinterest? Not much of a decorator or housekeeper? There’s a pin for that. Love fashion but can’t afford it? There’s a pin for that. Want to learn how to ________, travel the world, keep your toddler busy for the 5 minutes you’re in the shower or have the best homemade-but-taste-like-a-restaurant-while-planned-a-month-in-advance-meals-family-every-night? There’s a pin for that too.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Pinterest. I’m on it almost everyday, but I had to change the way that I used it. I used to see all the pins my friends had and I would think,

Wow! They’re such a good mom! Look at all those neat projects and activities that they’ve probably done with their kids/spouse/friend. Why am I not doing all these things with my kids/spouse/friend?

I started to play the comparison game with everything. My home, my cooking, my kids, my spouse, my car and even my pets! But then I had a good friend start talking to me about living with less, minimalism,  And then we moved in a short amount of time. And all of those comparisons got packed up in boxes along with our stuff.

We are in a new home and I have decided that I will have a new attitude about who I am; who God has made me to be. He has made me new. Not by human standards but by His. I think we need to not only stop evaluating others from a human perspective but ourselves as well. God has chosen me. He has made me and I am His creation. He has broken the mold, but He is not finished.

When have you had a “made-new” epiphany? A renewing of your mind?