Obstacles vs. Opportunities

The daily grind of being a mom can certainly become overwhelming at times. God has blessed me with 5 amazing children. I think most would agree that we have our hands full! Dealing with this chaos has been a challenge for me since I quit my job about two years ago to become a stay at home mom. It is a struggle to get the kids all out of the house by myself during the day, so some days I feel like a prisoner in my own home.

Interruptions are inevitable and that can become so frustrating! They occur all day long, and I have pretty much just succumbed to the fact that I may never eat a warm breakfast or lunch again…or at least for another 16 years. So how do I deal with all of this chaos and interruption?

I look at the obstacles as opportunities and treat each as a gift.

 About a month ago, my husband Josh began listening to a podcast from a church in North Carolina called Elevation Church. The pastor there, Steven Furtick, is amazing and he occasionally has his wife Holly come on stage and speak. One night when he came home from work Josh told me that after dinner, we had to sit down together and listen to the podcast that he had heard earlier that day, it was titled, “The Gift of Interruptions.” I would absolutely recommend to anyone who deals with interruptions in their life to sit down and take 42 minutes to listen to this sermon…it is amazing! (Listen to Holly’s message at Elevation Church here, The Gift of Interruption)

She uses three different scripture texts, but I most enjoyed the reference to the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37. Jesus tells us in this story that a man is beaten up on the side of the road and two gentlemen, a priest and a temple assistant, walk past him separately and see him as merely a hindrance to their busy day. They were likely good people, I mean they were a priest and a temple worker, I would imagine that they just simply did not have the time to spare. They saw his situation as an interruption.

However, when the third man walks past, he takes advantage of the interruption and sees it as an opportunity to do good for someone. You see, we need to train ourselves to see things differently. Instead of looking at each interruption as a hindrance, we should look a little closer and see God giving us an opportunity to reach out and make a difference in someone’s life.

I have started looking at the interruptions as God’s way of opening my eyes to just how special and precious the time I have with my children really is. It is beyond valuable, it is PRICELESS! Every interruption is an opportunity for me to shape and mold their young, impressionable minds and it would be irresponsible of me to let any of those moments go to waste. In just a few short years, they will all be in school and I will likely be starving for interruptions. When you stop and think about it like that, it really brings to light just how precious the interruptions really are. They may be loud, wound up, and chaotic, but I wouldn’t trade my precious interruptions for anything in the world.

Josh & Jamie

Why I Hope to be a Mom that is REAL…

If you talk about the negatives, everyone says “don’t fret, you’ll miss this one day.” If you talk about the positives, you are envied for “having it all together.” I’ve been on the receiving and giving end of both of these extremes and I just don’t think either is 100% right all of the time.

Being in the trenches of having littles (and hoping to add a few more to our brood before we’re done!), there are some days I am so happy with our little family, and enjoy most of my time with my kiddos. I look at them, and see their tiny faces, and I am amazed at God’s creativity and power. I want to soak up every minute and preserve all of these precious hugs and chubby baby legs.

Then there are other days when parenting is just plain HARD. So hard that some mornings I don’t feel like being a mom. I don’t feel like I have the strength to get through yet another long day of diaper changes (x2 – which will change soon due to potty training and will be a new challenge in itself!), feedings, toddler messes, and disciplining. I know it will be over one day, I know it won’t always be this way or be this draining. But for now, it’s exhausting.

So please hear this, dear mommas…it’s alright to have good days, and it’s alright to have bad ones.

Just because you have a bad day doesn’t mean you have to ignore how you feel because it’ll all be over one day, it means you had a bad day and tomorrow can be a better one.

Just because you are in an awesome season in life doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about it to your friends that are struggling, it means you can share with them about a season of hardship you’ve experienced too.

Just because you don’t feel like being a mom right now doesn’t mean you are a bad one, it just means you need a break, and that’s normal, and it’s okay. Text a friend or get a sitter. Do what you have to do to be healthy.

Just because your friend is posting adorable pictures of her kids who look like they’re behaving perfectly, doesn’t mean yours never do. Flip through that phone of yours, you know you have some too.

Just because someone sees a struggle as easy, doesn’t mean you have to feel the same way. It just means you have different struggles.

Being a mom that is real means being okay with the good and the bad. We all experience it, we all struggle at times and we all have our strong moments. Often, things that are hard seem so much easier when time gets in between it and us, but we have to have the bad to appreciate the good.

I hope that others don’t view me as being negative all the time, or overly positive. I hope they see me as REAL, with a good balance of both because I want to be someone who can speak the truth without fogging up the rose-colored glasses for new moms. Someone that can say, “yes, one day it will be easier, but it’s okay that it’s hard right now” and someone that can ask a mom friend, “what would help you today?”

We’re all in this together girl friends. Let’s all be REAL moms and support each other. That’s what we’re all looking for anyway.

Let Go and Let God

We sat in the hospital prep and recovery room waiting for the anesthesia tech to come for our six week old daughter. I was sitting on the hospital bed holding her, Mike and a church friend stood next to us in the tiny room. Nurses were in and out every few minutes, asking what seemed like the same questions over and over again, and with each piece of time that passed by, the knot in my stomach grew bigger. Fear was swirling around in my mind as I thought about the heart procedure she was about to have. All of this was so new to us, we only knew of a slight heart murmur two weeks before that day. What if there were complications? What if it took hours for her to come out of anesthesia? What if they found bigger problems? What if she didn’t make it?

Our friend asked how we were feeling, talked to us for a few minutes, and prayed for us. Before he left he said something that stuck with me, “I was praying for Ava this morning and I has a vision of Moses’ mother setting Moses in a basket and putting him in the Nile River.”

Minutes later the anesthesiologists came, and I carried our daughter as Mike and I were escorted down the hall to the operating room. There were half a dozen nurses and technicians standing at the doorway wearing scrubs, and a big, bold line was painted on the floor marking where we could not cross. A feeling of helplessness rose up in me as I handed my once peacefully sleeping baby to a stranger in a face mask and she let out a loud cry. “We’ll take good care of her,” they assured us as we were ushered back down the hall and she was taken over the painted line.

The image of Moses’ mother Jochebed releasing Moses into God’s hands has really resonated with me in this new season of having two small children, and of having one with several heart issues. God’s been showing me how to let go of them when my human instinct is to hold on tighter. Exodus says that Jochebed kept Moses from the Egyptians, who were having the baby boys killed to keep the Hebrew population down, until he was three months old and she could no longer hide him. Part of me wants to say “what were you thinking?” when she hides the basket carrying her little baby in the reeds of the Nile River of all places. But I have to think that she also had some kind of radical trust in God’s ability to protect her child and that he would take this awful situation and turn it around for something good. Moses was found and adopted by the Pharoh’s daughter, the very people who were out to kill him. He went on to become Egyptian royalty and as an adult, followed God’s calling to command Pharoh, his adopted grandfather, to free the Hebrew slaves – his own people.

It’s easy to say that our children belong to God when they are healthy. When they are obedient and trustworthy, when they follow His will for their lives and they serve Him faithfully, we are happy to say they are God’s children. But what about when unexpected issues come up? When our plan of having happy, healthy, Christ-following children is suddenly interrupted? In Jochebed’s case, her baby’s life was at risk and maybe her own if she were found hiding him, but she trusted God. Instead of continuing to keep him hidden so that she could have her child, and holding on tighter, she let him go and let God use him instead.

It was scary handing over my child to someone I didn’t know, hoping that they would in fact, “take good care of her,” and I had a good reason – they were humans, and they mess up. But I never have a reason to be afraid when I trust that God has always had everything under control, because he never messes up. Even when things look dire, or when they don’t turn out the way we want them to, when our kids are falling away from what we teach them, or there are unexpected health problems, we still have to stay on this side of the painted line and hand them over to Him.

Read the story of Jochebed’s faith as a mother, here in Exodus 2

Trading Facebook for Faces

I gave up Facebook, and it wasn’t even a New Years Resolution. I did it because I WANTED to, at least, I THOUGHT I wanted to.

After many futile months of trying to gradually spend less time “plugged in,” I couldn’t deal with the temptation anymore. Not to mention the very addiction-like feeling of guilt after failing to quit. Then when my husband came to me and asked me to change his facebook password, I asked him to do the same for me. Cold turkey is the way to go, let me tell you.

I didn’t realize how addicted I was but, after the first few days I started feeling frustrated. I doubted my reasoning for giving it up, thinking “it’s not really THAT big of a deal.” What was happening was that I was angry that I didn’t have a distraction anymore. Something to kill time at the doctors office, or taking a break on the couch while my son played on the living room floor. Something to do in the car while my husband drove us to a restaurant. Something to do while waiting to get our seat at the restaurant. Something to help me fall asleep and something to help me wake up in the morning.

While there have been some good things to come out of facebook for me (like talking to people from college I didn’t really ever talk to until we all became moms), most of the time it was just mindless scrolling with a few likes and comments tossed in for fun. And worse – it was that feeling of acceptance and confidence when something I posted received likes and comments.

It hasn’t even been two weeks without it and I’ve already noticed a change in my perspective. I depended on facebook to keep me entertained, and occupied, while complaining that I was too busy to accomplish my goals. Not having facebook I have already knocked out a huge list of things that have been sitting around waiting on me to have time for them. I have spent a lot more time playing with my son, who was also waiting for me to have time for him. I’ve sent more texts and made more phone calls to people – not to comment on a photo of their cute kids, or vacation photos, but to ask how they are doing. My husband is traveling this week for work and we spent an hour talking on the phone one night, something we haven’t done since we were dating..

I didn’t think I was addicted to facebook, but now that I don’t have it, I’m already questioning why I was so hooked. Trading facebook for actual face-to-face time with people has been awesome because the internet can never replace the value of real, personal relationships. Digital photos may have replaced film, and emails and texts may have replaces phone calls or handwritten letters – but they can’t match their value. Getting actual mail is always more exciting and personal than getting a text. It means something to know that person valued you enough to spend the time to write or call, so much more than a comment on facebook ever could.

Photos and words on a screen cannot compare to being there in person. Likes and comments can never replace the supporting hug of a friend, or a surprise visit when you need it most – even if your house is a mess. It’s the value of a real, raw relationship that we need most, even though we can sometimes fill that need with the false version. It can be scary to make ourselves vulnerable to people by making ourselves available in person and without the protection of the computer or phone screen in between us, but I guarantee that vulnerability makes for a much better relationship and rush of confidence.

This month I encourage you to pick up your phone and call someone, grab a pen and paper and write them a letter, or better yet, host someone for dinner. Just be present, not distracted.

What About Santa?

It seems like more and more families are skipping the tradition of Santa Claus with their kids. It’s an honorable decision, and I agree with many of the reasons, but it’s so hard to do in this world these days. With Pinterest and the dangerous amount of ideas for families and gift-giving traditions, holidays like St. Patrick’s day are becoming an ordeal. How do we get down to the nitty-gritty, when our kids are pounded with images of Santa everywhere?

Whether you do Santa or not in your house, I am certainly not here to judge, but I think there are so many good parts and lessons to be learned about the story of St. Nicholas. Things that get missed in the aisles and aisles of decorations and goofy Santa and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer faces. And it’s not just that Christmas isn’t really about presents, because let’s face it – that’s a really hard concept to grasp when you’re a kid and you LOVE presents! Here are a few of my thoughts on the subject that I think can be applied no matter what your Christmas traditions are…

One of the most important lessons to be learned is that “Santa Claus” loved Jesus. The real story of St. Nicholas is fascinating. He was a very giving and generous man who took what Jesus said, to “go, sell your possessions and give to the poor,” (Matthew 19:21) literally. He was known for having very little and giving much, and for his love of caring for children. What a great example of sacrificial living this can be for our kids to learn about. Always pointing out that Nicholas was emulating Jesus can be a neat way for them to connect their faith with what they hear about Santa from kids at school and on TV.

Another lesson is that many of the “extras” that come with the Americanized version of Santa are just for fun; explaining that things like the sleigh, reindeer, coming down the chimney and elves, are all part of the imagination of storytellers. Being a very creative child, this was not hard for my little mind to grasp when I was old enough for my parents to explain the real story – and my brother and I played into it fully knowing it was not real. For some kids this could be difficult so you may avoid Santa all together, only you know what is best for your family! But just as we encourage creative play in dressing up and pretending, that part of the Santa story can be good for them too, when they understand it is all for fun.

The last point I want to hit is, to me, the most important. When it comes to Santa I cringe when I hear a parent threaten a child with the phrase, “if you’re not good, Santa won’t bring you any gifts.” Or the question, “do you want coal in your stocking?” in reference to misbehaving. Using Santa as a way to manipulate good behavior is dangerous in my opinion – and here’s why: If we teach our children that Santa loved Jesus and he lived his life following Jesus’ teachings, will they ever question whether Jesus will punish them when they mess up because that’s what Santa does? Will they become afraid or give up when they feel there is no mercy when they aren’t perfect? Will they learn that they have to earn the gifts through good behavior?

The truth is that Nicholas gave freely to the poor and to the children because that is what Jesus does for us. Jesus loves us, even when we aren’t perfect and he will never give up on us. He gave us the most important gift, something none of us could ever do enough “good” to earn, and something none of us truly deserves. He gave us the sacrifice of Himself, when we should have gotten “coal” instead.

This is such a tricky season of the year for little ones, but I think it can have a profound impact on them when they learn what it really means. Even though they are young, their minds are being formed and the truths they carry into adulthood are too. They pick up on a lot more than we realize!

Parenting as a Relationship

Felisha is wife to Dustin, and momma to Josiah. She is also a blogger and I asked her to share with you part of her parenting journey. I love Felisha’s desire to seek after God’s will for her as a parent, and for Josiah as she raises him. Enjoy!

When Danielle asked me to write for this blog, I was totally pumped for the opportunity! Afterall, I’m a budding blogger. BUT…when she said it was about what I’ve learned as a parent, I immediately felt sick…What do I have to say about parenting, when I feel like a failure daily? 

Why do we mothers and creative types fear failure? I’m convinced it’s the enemy’s favorite of our characteristics. He doesn’t even have to work for it. Don’t give him the pleasure, Momma! What I want to share today is that we don’t have to be perfect, we just have to trust that we know our babies and respect the unique personalities that God created in them.

After my initial sense of dread over writing about parenting, I knew what I had to say was about relationships. In a recent email conversation with my dear sister-in-law, Leah, about our tender-hearted boys, I wrote,

“I love learning the ‘whys’ of parenting [we were discussing introversion and extroversion]. It definitely makes the ‘hows’ less challenging. It’s such a blessing to be in a relationship with your child. This might sound stupid, but I don’t think I ever really understood that parenting is just a new type of relationship. It’s not just a responsibility on my part. Josiah is a unique, individual person, and I just have to learn him like anybody else. I don’t know why that fascinates me so much, but I love it.”

I remember when Josiah was born, I was hit with something I’d never considered. Although we definitely bonded, I remember thinking, “I have no idea what to do with this kid. I just met him!” Josiah had a rough beginning, and due to an issue with dairy in my diet, he cried a lot during the first few months. Surprisingly, it didn’t phase me as much as would be expected. I just decided that this screaming child was outspoken and had some sort of need I didn’t know how to meet, yet. Over time, I learned how to meet his needs; he cried less and smiled more. He is still a very outspoken, passionate, and attention seeking boy, but we’ve learned each other and continue to do so each day.

The thing with relationships is that they thrive on humility and mutual respect. And let me tell you, parenting has been very humbling for me. I’m so thankful for that. I have made a point to say, “I’m sorry” to Josiah since the day he was born. “I’m sorry, Momma doesn’t know what you need…I’m sorry Momma is so grumpy…I’m sorry I yelled…I’m sorry I scratched you when I picked you up.” There’s no limit to my mistakes, but humility goes such a long way. Just because I am older and more able to provide for myself, doesn’t mean I am above Josiah. It’s vitally important that he and I both know that.

As I have sought to be more humble and selfless, I’ve learned how to show this tiny person I’m raising the same respect I’d desire from another adult. Dustin and I have been told over and over how sweet and well-behaved Josiah is. This was definitely a gift from God, but we also believe it has to do with the fact that we have always treated him like a tiny adult who has the same biological, psychological, social, and spiritual needs as we do. When his needs are met and frustrations are minimized by compromise and understanding, he has much less need for acting out. Don’t you get frustrated when someone won’t listen to you or won’t let you do something you so desperately need or desire to do?!

Additionally, when a child feels free, loved, and respected, he learns to treat other people the same way. It’s a natural response to his parents’ example. One of the most profound bits of parenting advice I’ve ever gotten was from my own Daddy. When I asked him how you teach a child to love God, He simply said, “You just have to live it.” It cannot be said enough that children live what they see, not what they are told. So, you don’t want your child to scream and steal toys from other children? Well, don’t yell at him and rip things out of his hands. I believe it really can be that simple. I know there are times when you have to instruct a disobedient child, but I really believe it starts with your behavior as a parent.

I often cringe when I hear of “baby training”…Now, I don’t want to get into a debate over parenting philosophies. Frankly, I don’t believe you can subscribe to any one style with every child. That’s sort of my point. Each child is a unique creation, and if we want to encourage each of them to become the beautiful soul he or she was made to be, we need to get to know them.

Although I respect and understand the need for boundaries with children, I hate the thought of training a child to be a carbon copy of some made-up “perfect” sleeper/eater/communicator, etc. Josiah is who he is. Some of his personality is delightful and some of it is frustrating. He has strengths and flaws just like his Momma. Each day, I try to nurture his soul, so that he becomes the worshiper of God HE was created to be. I am definitely NOT a perfect mother, but that is not the goal anyway, is it? Josiah growing up and worshipping Jesus in His own beautiful way is all this Momma could ever ask.
If you’d like to read more from Felisha, check out her blog: millybecomingwilder.wordpress.com

Firm Steps


Nothing will humble you quicker, and more often, than being a parent.

As our son grows up, every few weeks I catch myself feeling confident. I start thinking, “I think we’ve finally got this figured out.” “We’re good! This is totally easy.” But, those are usually the times when something new is around the corner.

Once we got the sleeping/eating schedules down, he started teething. Once he got his first teeth he was sitting up, eating solids, crawling, pulling himself up, quickly followed by walking, then running. Last week I started thinking those overly-confident thoughts again, and right on time, the next day, he figured out how to climb on top of the coffee table.

That is when my thinking changed to, “oh boy, now what am I going to do?” Continue reading