For The Mom Who Is Dreading Summer

This is my first year entering into the school-aged realm of 'having kids who have been in school all year, and now they're going to be home every day for summer.'

It has introduced a dynamic I haven't really had before. Previously, I've had my daughters home year-round. But now, I'm facing this seismic shift of schedule. It's simply that I'm used to them being home in the afternoon and evenings and weekends...and then I kind of 'regroup' in the spaces when they're in school, preparing myself for another round of parenting when they come home again from school. All of this has left me in a place I have never really been in before, but I know alot of moms feel: I'm just not sure if I'm really ready for summer. 

When I started delving into what I actually felt about all this (once I realized that I was a bit hesitant about summer's approach), it started to emerge for me that I wasn't sure that I would have what it takes inside of me to be with my girls all summer long, day in and day out. I was worried about not having enough patience, scared of feeling irritable with them all the time and not knowing what to do with that feeling, fearful of not knowing how to lead them well and finding myself feeling annoyed at the times they're out of control and I wouldn't know what to do about it. I was worried that I wouldn't have enough energy, enough capacity to engage with them, to be genuinely present with them throughout such long days. 

So I took my feelings to the Lord, once I realized and acknowledged what was going on in the inside of me. 

I told Him my feelings. I told Him my worries. I told Him my fears.

And He answered me.

He said, in a quiet voice (that I heard inside of me, not with my ears, but with my spirit), "Sarah, you're leaning into a schedule and a routine to get you through parenting. You've switched to depending on having time to regroup to do well enough as a mom. Time to regroup is helpful. Space is helpful. But it's not your Savior. It will be Me, and My Presence inside of you, filling you and empowering you, giving you what you need, that will be enough for you to get you through parenting this summer. My Presence inside of you will increase as your needs in parenting increase. I'll provide for all you need. You'll have enough. Not because of a schedule, but because of Me. You can lean into Me."

Hearing the Lord's voice and His words in the face of my worries about the summer gave me a solid foundation on which to actively settle my emotions. I can rest about my summer. I can trust that there will be enough for me as a mom, in the Lord, in His presence, in His empowerment and filling of me, in His provision. I don't need my routine or my schedule to save me. I have all that I need in the Lord. And He truly is more than my greatest needs. 

#parentingHOPE

A Short Devotional For Women in the Week After Mother's Day

Mother's Day. We all know that that one day can bring any number of experiences, and with those experiences, any number of emotions up in all of us. No matter who we are, no matter what our situation is. We don't ever really get a free pass on that day. Sometimes we wouldn't want a free pass, but sometimes, boy, we sure would. 

So whether your Mother's Day was sweet, or grieving, or full of anger at the world, whether it was a veritable mental and emotional tornado, or trying to just ignore all the hype on social media...whether you're a mom, or longing to be a mom, or have chosen to not be a mom, or can't be a mom, or have lost a mom, or are struggling with your role as mom, or just felt like the weight of your role as a mom all crashed onto your shoulders last Sunday and you'll never, ever be good enough as a mom, or whatever...there's one thing that unites all of us as women, one thing that we all pretty much could use, that we all really need. We all need to return to a place of peace, a place of settledness after the weekend. We need grace and rest and 'You're OK' spoken over us. 

We all need a settled place in the middle of whatever we're experiencing on the inside.

And settled places on the inside are HARD to come by, aren't they? I wouldn't characterize most of my internal world as 'settled' or peaceful most of the time. But we so need to come back to that place of rest, of "I'm OK." So I'd like to give you this post-Mother's-Day teeny tiny gift: a way into finding a place of settledness in the midst of whatever you're experiencing. 


Ok. Here we go. FYI, I'm transitioning now into hands-on, practical, how-to. So if you want to follow me into creating room inside of yourself for a more settled sense of peace, you can either make time now, or plan to make time later. I'd suggest setting aside about 15 minutes. 

First, I'd suggest getting into a quiet place. This is a funny little tidbit about me: I like sitting on my kitchen floor for moments such as these. Either before my kids get up in the morning or while they're at school or while they're both upstairs happily playing dollhouse for a few moments. You could be on your couch, out on your back deck, whatever. Plan to put aside any distractions for 15 minutes. Turn off the TV, turn off the sound on your phone (you'll survive), try to make this during a time of day when someone might not be yelling "Mommy, mommy, mommy" a thousand times every 45 seconds. 

Then just sit in your quiet spot for a few moments...like 90 seconds. Sit in a comfortable position. Let yourself be quiet. Close your eyes. Let yourself take like 15 deep breaths. Let your shoulders and face and eyes all relax a bit. Just be still for a few moments.

After you've been still, place your hands face up on your lap, and just list, in front of Jesus (your Creator, the One who knows every little thing about you-- and feels quite compassionate), a few feelings and details about what your Mother's Day weekend was like. You don't have to mention every single detail. Just tell Him a few feelings, a few details. Talk to Him. He's a friend. He's right with you. He's gentle and He's kind. His eyes are full of compassion. 

After a few details, listen to this song. As you listen, take deep breaths. You can keep your hands open if you want. If you feel peace coming to you and you want to cry, go for it, that's beautiful. (If you don't, that's wonderfully fine too!) What you're doing with this song is you're creating space inside of yourself to re-center your mind and emotions that no circumstance of Mother's Day can bring you peace, can bring you settledness. No gift, no phone call, no baby, no approval of your life choices from others...nothing can bring you peace besides your Creator:

As the song ends, you can either let yourself linger a few minutes in silence...or you can move on to this next song, depending on how much you are 'soaking in' rest and peace and settledness on the inside. If you sense alot of peace in the quiet after the song, linger there for a few minutes. When you're ready, move on to this next (more energetic- haha) song.

At some point over the Mother's Day weekend (and also probably at many other times in your life), you may have felt something on the inside suggesting to you that you are 'on shaky ground' when it comes to love. Maybe your kids didn't call you, didn't celebrate you the way you wished they did. Maybe you feel like you suck as a mom (that's been alot of my Mother's Day experiences). Maybe you felt ostracized by society in your pain, or in your choices. Maybe you felt that the way that you are disqualifies you. Whatever. I can't list all the reasons. But I can guess that we all sense that there's a voice that says, "You're not quite good enough to deserve to be fully loved, just as you are, flaws and all." The voice suggests that you're always a little bit on shaky ground in the area of being loved. 

Listen to this song. Let your heart start to open, a little tiny bit, to the possibility, that even as you listen to this song, as you are doing nothing, that you are being loved. RIGHT NOW. There's a song being sung over you. That's the voice of your Creator.

That's pretty much the end of our time to create space for settledness and peace. May you find that there is a deep breath inside of you that wasn't there before. May you find that there is a solid ground for all that you are, all that you're going through, whatever your experiences. 

#restGIRLhope

#parentingHOPE

#excitingGOD

A Short Thought For Parents Who Are Worrying About Their Children

As a mom, there are so many times that I basically want to freak out. Like literally freak out.

Times when my kids come home from school and tell me things they heard, things that they learned that I know they’re not ready to learn yet…times when they tell me things people did to them that were wrong...times when I imagine all the things that could happen to them, all the evil that’s in the world that could hurt or affect them…times when I find out sin my kids are hiding...times when I wonder if we’re doing enough to develop them…times when I wonder how the mess that’s still inside of me will cripple them as they grow up in my household. There are just so many opportunities to want to freak out.

And I’ve spent alot of time giving in to that urge, and freaking out. As a mom, I’ve been despairing, I’ve been angry, I’ve been afraid, I’ve been anxious, I’ve been overcome by terror in the middle of the night, I’ve been ruled by suspicion, I’ve wanted to say “I just cant do this; it requires too much; it’s too painful,” and give up. I’ve ‘freaked out.’

The Bible suggests that there is a disposition to have towards life that is called 'anxious toil.' And if you’re like me, you know what it is for your mind and emotions to be stuck in a season of 'anxious toil' in your parenting. There isn’t really rest. There isn't really peace when you look at and interact with your children, because what is ruling you inside is worry, fear, suspicion, imaginations, despair, anger, frustration. I know that disposition. But I’m finding, through the gentle reminders and correction of Jesus, that my anxious toil actually ends up all being in vain…it never gets me any real progress in my parenting. It just leads me further down the road of more anxious toil. What God wants from me, instead, is rest, and trust, and belief that He is in charge, and that He is good. He wants me to use my energy to believe that He is doing something good in my children (and in me). And good doesn’t always look like ideal.

I've found songs like this one below to be helpful for me in my journey. They help me to kind of re-group and re-orient my emotions and my mind around who is most responsible for my children. Who I need to entrust them to. Is it me and my anxious toil that is keeping my children safe in this life? Or is it Someone stronger, Someone bigger, Someone with alot more wisdom and resources and sight than I have? I love the line, "When it thunders, I don't wonder if I'm safe in Daddy's arms," because parenting so often feels like 'thunder' pealing quite loudly, but the Lord is asking me, like a parent would in the middle of a thunderstorm, to let myself believe I am completely safe with my Daddy. Even though I hear the thunder. 

As you consider the things in your own parenting that make you want to 'freak out,' may you have grace to walk the journey along with me in believing that when it thunders, you are safe in Daddy's arms. 

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:1-2

 

#parentingHOPE