What matters most | by Seana

Seana and Kavin 2014

Me and my little man K.

I am Mom

Some days I wake up tired. Scratch that. Most days I wake up tired. Two little boys and one tall man hammering for my attention the moment I wake up. Sure, I should rise up early like the Proverbs 31 women, but most days my kids rise up early too.

And with all honesty, there are some days I wish I could just pull the covers back over my head and play sick, like when I was in high school and just wanted to lay around for a day and watch Family Feud and daytime soap operas.

Until I hear his voice.

“Good morning mama. How is your day?” My 4-year-old, Kavin, will come in my room if I am not already up and lovingly encourage me with his smile. Or he will just demand breakfast. Either way, in a moment, I am mom.

And every moment throughout the day, I am the…

Mom who gets the kids ready. Mom who plans the meals. Mom who cleans the house. Mom who throws in the laundry. Mom who practices Bible memory verses. Mom who runs kiddo to school. Mom who changes diapers.

Yes. I am that mom.

And in-between all the errands and tasks I am the…

Mom who comforts my crying baby. Mom who plays Legos and Superman. Mom who teaches right from wrong. Mom who dances in the living room. Mom who reads nap time stories. Mom who knows. Mom who builds up with words.

Mom.

I can hire a housekeeper. I can hire a cook. I can hire a laundress. I can hire a school teacher.

But I can’t hire Mom.

And when my children are grown, I won’t miss the soap operas or Family Feud. I won’t miss my bed covers or my accomplishments in the world. I will miss them. I will miss being Mom in the early years.

The early years of: make believe and big questions like “why?”. Play dough and race track cars. Cuddles and giggles. Sloppy letters hard to read.

I will miss them needing me.

I am Mom. No one else can be me for these God has entrusted to me.

Moving and Growing | by Lesley

received_10205393124854555We just moved. It’s a good thing – bigger house, bigger backyard with a POOL, nice neighborhood, only a short distance to our old home and old neighbors that we love. We are so grateful and in disbelief that this home is where we get to live. But no matter how you slice it, moving is hard. And stressful. We hadn’t moved in 13 years, and in those 13 years we added four children and all that goes along with that (um, lots of stuff). We also thought it would be fun to GUT our new kitchen and remodel it, because being without a kitchen was a needed challenge in my life. Or the opposite.

There have been some really good lessons and reminders for me in this move.  I am a recovering perfectionist, so these are lessons that might seem “duh” to some people but are really a challenge for me. I’m thinking some people can relate:

#1. Relationships are ALWAYS more important than the to-do list. I struggle with this so much. I am extremely task oriented and thrive on efficiency. Last week I had a day with lots to do (just another day really), and I made a difficult (for me) decision to put that aside and spend some time counseling someone. I secretly wished she would cancel, but she didn’t.  And I am so glad – cause it turns out *I* needed it as much as she did, maybe more. We are designed to be in relationship with others and when we prioritize people it fills us, and we are then better prepared for the task list.

#2. Patience – um, yeah.  Not my strong suit by a long shot.  And you know what? When you do any remodeling, it always takes longer than you think (or they say). Every.single.time. So I am resigned right now to have a camping kitchen for a while. And whenever I start to feel a little bit sorry for myself, I remind myself that the majority of people in this world … this country … this city … do not have the luxury of having a working kitchen, let alone remodeling one. Pity party = done.

#3. Priorities have to constantly be evaluated. I am always asking myself, what needs to get done this week … today … this moment? I try to focus on those tasks and put blinders on so I don’t see the rest. This allows me to get done what absolutely needs to get done and still be nice. Because if I look around at all that needs to be done, I will go into a corner and roll in a ball and cry. I am easily distracted and have a difficult time focusing on one thing.  This is still a process for me, but I am getting better.

#4. Rest is important. Like really important. It’s tough to do, because it seems there is always something more to accomplish. Somehow our culture has lured us into thinking we must always be busy and doing something. But, God COMMANDED rest, a day of it in fact every week. I’ve found when I do rest, I am better prepared for what is to come. If I go non-stop, nothing gets done well and I usually end up getting sick, and grumpy.  My husband and I had an opportunity to go away overnight (without kids!) just a couple of days before moving. It was hard to leave – we had lots of packing left and construction to manage.  But we did it.  We relaxed, talked without interruption, and just hung out together.  I think we slept till 7:30 am!  And wow, it truly made the week ahead much easier to handle.

There are likely many more lessons for me as we continue remodeling and unpacking, and I’m sure I will continue working on the above every day. At the moment, I am feeling really grateful for the opportunity to grow. I don’t feel that way every moment, but the big picture reminds me to keep striving to grow closer in line with God’s characteristics, not mine.

Oh, and a side note: we have TOO MUCH STUFF. It seems to have multiplied in our garage and I can’t wait to get rid of most of it. Garage sale pending. And also, we are never, ever moving again. Ever.

When our Dreams and Circumstances Don’t Match | by Seana

stockvault-forest-fog142490 Since I became a mom, I have wrestled with what seemed to be contradicting desires: to love my family well and to change the world. I am a missionary adventurer at heart and my dream is to be an active part of every person in the world having a viable opportunity to know Christ. How do I do that from my kitchen sink?

For several years I believed a cultural lie: that what women do in the home is “nice”, but real work and value are found in what she does outside of the home.

That simply is not the message we receive from the Bible. The message I receive is this: love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength… and to love your neighbor as yourself. THIS, Jesus said, is the sum of the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:37). THIS is the way to honor God and live for Him, whether in the home or outside of it.  Our value is in Him, not in the work of our hands.

When I am honestly seeking the Lord and following Him step by step, I can trust that His assignment for me in each season is what He deems most valuable and effective for His kingdom. That might mean working a job, focusing on the home, volunteering, and/or writing a blog post (lol). God is creative! His assignment for each of us can look different. Our responsibility is to seek His face with a willing heart to do what He says.

When we long to be somewhere else doing something else besides the assignment God has led us to, we are basically telling Him, “I don’t trust You to know what is best for me or the world.”

Is that how I really feel? No!

So, my new approach is this: live fully where God has placed me and pray for what He places on my heart. He may move me to specific ways to sow into my passion for lost people groups (like praying through unreached people groups and encouraging missionaries), but in the meantime, I will be worshipping Him by joyfully embracing His current assignment. After all, if I am willing to do anything for Him, I can trust what He gives me, as the work of my hands and heart, is what is most effective for His kingdom right now.

What is a passion or burden on year heart? God has a plan! Commit to laying out all your thoughts to Him in prayer and He will bring you peace in the current season and opportunity to engage in your passion in creative ways.

Hold On To Hope | by Patty

stockvault-we-shall-meet-where-there-is-no-sorrow102447

Isaiah 41:10 NRSV  “Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

If you are a woman, and you have a pulse, chances are you have received advice from welcomed and unwelcomed sources your whole life.  When you were a girl, it was advice on how to be a lady, how to behave, what to say, what not to say, how to dress, how not to dress; as you got older, there was advice about your hair, jewelry, makeup, who to date, not to date, when to date, when to marry…You name it, and there is a woman out there giving you her advice.  And if you are like me, you are trying to filter through all the “advice” and decide what is worth listening to, and what is not.

When you get married, the advice continues, from how to keep your home, how to keep you man, when to have children, how many children to have, where they should go to school, whether you should stay home, or work outside the home, which school to put you child in…the “advice” or rather, opinions, continue.

I was sleep deprived, postpartum, and alone

When I was a new mom, I was a little overwhelmed by the changes that had taken place in my life.  I was 20 years old, still a newlywed, had moved 1500 miles away from my family, given birth to my first baby, and was now a stay at home mom.  I was sleep deprived, postpartum, and home alone with this tiny human being whose life depended on me.  The sobering reality that I was now responsible for such a fragile human being was overwhelming.

What if I messed him up?  What if I didn’t raise him right?  Could I really do this?  Have I mentioned that I was overwhelmed?  Let me say it again, I was o-ver-whelmed.

I remember walking through Costco with my screaming child in my arms, bouncing and singing and patting his back, doing everything that I could to calm this child down.  A mom leaned over and said, “Let the dishes go.  Sleep when he sleeps.”  Let’s just say, this advice was not well received.  I held my tongue, but on the inside, I was fuming.

Instead of feeling supported, I felt judged

Now, in retrospect, this was not bad advice…and her intentions were good. But all I could think of was the mess that was my house, and my failure as a “good stay-at-home” mom.  Instead of feeling supported, I felt judged.  I was exhausted, and I felt like a failure.  I thought of my mom, who raised 4 kids, worked outside the home, how hard she worked to keep our house clean, and how it seemed like the house was spotless.  I thought of my mother-in-law who raised 5 kids, made excellent meals, and kept her house clean…they seemed to have it all together.  And when I looked at myself, I didn’t see a mom with the kid whose clothes were immaculate, whose house was well kept, and whose hair and make-up were done.  I just saw failure.

I mentioned I was postpartum and probably had postpartum depression, but I didn’t know it at the time.  All I knew was that I loved my husband, I loved my son, and I wanted to be the best wife and mom…and I was not.

Looking back on that time, if I could give myself advice, I would share what I know now about being a mom.

It’s OK to let others help.

1)  Motherhood is a life-long journey.  You will love, learn, succeed, fail, try again, laugh, cry, rejoice, ache, pray, defend and advocate for your child(ren) your entire life.  You will never be perfect.  You will always be you – so give your best, and let the Lord lead you in all things, big and small.

2)  There is no manual, and there is no perfect mother.  What works for someone else, may not work for you.  Your child, your family is unique.  Learn from your successes and failures, listen to the Lord’s promptings, and don’t doubt yourself.  Believe in yourself, and lead your children with confidence.

3) The woman that seems to have it together, does not.  Don’t be fooled, she is as insecure as you are.  The woman that appears to have it all together, is usually only about appearances.  If you could see into her heart, you would see someone a lot like you – a mom who loves her family, who is doing her best to be what her family needs her to be, and aching for a friend who is safe enough to let her guard down with, and who will love her as she is.  Don’t judge her, be her friend.

4) You are enough.  Whether by birth or adoption, your child was given to you, and you are the best mother for that child.  There is no one better.  As mothers, we are often our worst critic.  Silence your inner critic, and listen to the voice of your Heavenly Father telling you who you were created to be.

You are enough

5) It’s ok to let others help.  I remember feeling guilty the first time my husband and I left our son with my mom-in-law for the first time.  I felt like I was abandoning him.  Momma, your needs are still important.  If you are blessed to have family and friends that are willing to love and care for your little one, while you take a much needed break, it’s okay to let them help.  You are not a failure. You are not a bad mom.  You are showing your child, even at a young age, that they are surrounded by people that love them, that will protect them, and that will support them throughout their life.  That is what family does.  They help each other, they love each other, and they take care of each other.

6)  Hold on to hope.  There will be times when you are scared, tired, angry, tired, weepy, tired, you may even feel alone, and one more thing…tired.   I hope that you will be encouraged by Isaiah 41:10 NRS:

“Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

Hold on to hope Momma.  Whatever your trial, whatever your hardship, whatever your struggle, you will get through it.  God is with you.  You will rejoice again.

The Call of Motherhood | by Kelly

What a blessing motherhood is. I always knew growing up, that it was the only thing I would ever really do. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy other things, oh no, I have had several aspirations and interests over the years, but nothing has “stuck” like mothering. I tell people all the time that I know how to do a lot of different things, just none of it completely well. Once I recognized the fact that maybe what was meant to fill my time 24/7, was motherhood, it was like the gates of opportunity opened to me, the lightbulb went on, and I didn’t have to feel defeated by past failed endeavors anymore.

For the majority of my mothering career, I’ve been fortunate enough to be a stay at home mom, with only the occasional part time “job” in the workforce. It’s not that we’re so incredibly wealthy we can swing it financially, quite the contrary. It’s simply that we’ve decided there’s a lot we’re willing to do without, so my girls have their mom with them. To shed some light on a popular issue of comparison and mom bullying, let me just say that our choice for me to stay at home is just that, our choice. Not your choice, not what I think should be your choice, not what I’m comparing to your choice. I believe a lot of people think that moms who stay home look down their noses on those who don’t. I can’t speak for all of them, but I’ll just say that for me, there’s no way I can compare your choices to my own and neither should you do that to me. See, the Lord planted a desire in my heart, called me to this life and even equipped me for it. The real question isn’t what I think of your choices in mothering, it’s what He thinks.

In 1 Chronicles 28:9, the Lord says,

“And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.”

This verse gives wonderful direction as to Who we should be pleasing. The Lord searches our heart: not the mom down the street, or the ladies Sunday School teacher, not our mom, or even the Pastor’s wife. The Lord. I think that maybe sometimes we look instead to what everyone else around us thinks, because we don’t want the real answer from the Lord.

What is He calling you to today? Maybe that question is answered with exactly what you’re doing in your life already. Praise the Lord for your obedience to His calling on your life! There is no better, or safer place to be than the will of God. But maybe you’ve felt as I have before, that there’s something missing. Maybe you know in the back of your mind what that something is, but you’re just drifting along, afraid to make any changes, out of fear of what others may think, or how it may upset the life you’re familiar with. Let me encourage you to seek the Lord’s will for your life and not what everyone else thinks you should be doing. Let’s face it, motherhood is so very hard, we don’t need to be trying to please everyone around us at the same time!

 

Do I trust God’s plan? | by Seana

Four years ago I stood at my kitchen sink one afternoon nap time sobbing as I held a plate in one hand and scrubbed in a circular motion with the sponge on the other.  “I don’t want my life to be only about diapers and dishes,” I complained out loud.  Over the next few days, God clearly showed me that my life is about serving Him in everything, whether I travel the globe in mission, write the next best seller, abolish modern slavery, or simply follow Him into the next load of laundry.

Do I trust God’s plan?  Do I trust His best for my life?

Today I stood at my kitchen sink again, crying again, grumbling, “I want life to be more about cleaning the kitchen 5 times a day.”

How often I am puffed up with high thoughts of my abilities and think He should place me in another position rather than my current unglamorous assignment.  No one wins the Nobel Peace Prize for loving their families well and taking care of the household.  I am educated.  I am able to do more.  Yes, maybe.  That is not the question at hand.  The question is: Do I trust God?

God knows who we are, after all, He knit us together in our mothers’ wombs and all the days ordained for us were written before one of them came to pass (Ps. 139).  He knows our talents and skills better than we.  No resume or references needed.

 Jesus is simply asking me to love those He placed before me

Please understand, I absolutely love mommyhood and serving my family.  My angst is not the value or treasure of my family, rather my desire to live effectively for the Kingdom.  I think of all the lost out there in the world and want to go and tell them about Jesus.  I think about all the hurting and want to advocate for their deliverance.  I think about all the orphans and want to mother them all.

Yet this is where He has placed me.  This is my portion.  My husband and two young boys are His wise decision for the investment of myself for His kingdom purposes right now.  Maybe there will be orphans in the future for me.  Maybe there will be mission travels again or slavery abolition.  Today, Jesus is simply asking me to love well those He placed before me.  To serve well in the tasks He assigns me and to do all with a thankful heart.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Ps. 46:10

God knows our hearts that long to make the largest impact for the Gospel with our lives possible.  He also knows in the scheme of eternity that sometimes the seemingly simple and modest assignments are the most essential to His long-term Kingdom-come-on-earth work.

He is trustworthy.  His plan is perfect.  Let us embrace our assignments with joy and know… to obey is better than any sacrifice… especially the sacrifice of our family.  Only we can be mom.

Blessings,
Seana

How Did We Get Here? | by Breanna

Today is a beautiful day – especially for the Pacific NW! Ruthie & I slept in this morning & then we met up with our friend Beth & her baby boys for a walk in the sunshine. We walked to Starbucks and got coffee & just talked about life & parenting our precious newborn babes. It was so refreshing to get out of the house, get some exercise and connect with a dear sister in Christ!

We came home & I put Ruthie in her favorite and wrap & we got to work in the yard. We watered flowers and planted part of our vegetable garden. We planted lettuce, chard, cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes & radishes today. I can’t wait till we can enjoy delicious salads fresh from our own backyard! Then we pulled out our old clothes line & hung out our cloth diapers to dry in the sunshine.

How did we get here?

At this point it really hit me – baby wearing, veggie growing, cloth diapers! How did we get here? This life was certainly not my plan or my design for things.
When I was younger, I had a dream and a vision for my life – probably like most all naïve college freshman do. I was going to study hard & go to law school. After graduation I was going to work as a corporate attorney, wearing trendy suits & high heels, and make lots of money. I was going to live in a city – a big city – preferably far away from the podunk town I grew up in. I never wanted to get married & certainly didn’t factor children in to my glamorous life plan. I was young & extremely selfish & I loved my life and my plans.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways declares the Lord” –Isaiah 55:8

Then one day after graduation I came face to face with a man unlike any other, and everything changed. His name is Jesus & He saved me from myself and slowly began to change my heart. Don’t ever think that the God of the universe, the God that made your heart, can’t change your heart!
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove your heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” – Ezekiel 36:26

It’s absolutely incredible to realize how much you can love

When I look at my life now it’s absolutely incredible to realize how much you can love something that you never even knew you wanted! Being a wife and a mama are the two most incredible blessings and bring me the most joy and fulfillment, yet were things I never even figured in to my plan. I’m so thankful for my relationship with the Lord and for my amazing husband – the two men who make this beautiful life possible. My husband is an incredible man of God who shepherds my heart & works SO hard to take care of me & Ruthie.

There are still things that I have to let go of – learning to walk with a trust God is a continuing journey. If you’re holding on to something today that isn’t from the Lord, let it go. It might hurt at first to see your vision die, but God is faithful & He will replace it with something far greater and more beautiful than you could ever imagine.
                “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” –Proverbs 3:5