My Thankful Song: Stirring up Gratitude

In May 2013, my Babes and I returned to the U.S. after an eleven month journey called the World Race.

August 2013, we packed our bags once again and moved from Florida to Georgia where I landed a second grade teaching position and my Babes an internship with Adventures in Missions.

Shortly after moving, we discovered I was pregnant. After having no income for one year. After moving away from our family once again. After moving to a city where traffic was horrendous on my daily drive to and from work.

I struggled daily to find contentment, to find something to be thankful for. The Georgia gray skies were depressing. As my belly grew daily, I found it hard to fit behind the wheel of Whitey Tighty, my afternoon 1997 Corolla on the cool winter mornings. My classroom was the trailer that was farthest away from the school, and more importantly the bathroom. And the day we went to move into our apartment, we discovered they gave it away to someone else.

I felt strongly that I needed to do something to help stir up gratefulness in my own heart. One morning on my drive to work, I created a thankful song. It’s so simple, but any time I would feel the gray skies pressing in, I would sing this silly song. It helped change my focus to the blessings in my life.

After all, the Lord provided a beautiful home for us to live in. After being sad about the distance between my family and I, God provided family and community in a unique way. After all, the Lord had provided the job and a new scenic route to school that didn’t include as much traffic. After all, the Lord provided the blessing of a firstborn son.

A friend of mine who lives in Georgia texted me a few days ago and reminded me of my thankful song. I have sung it through many seasons over the years, and the tune is a little quirky and silly.

I was reminded of the importance of stirring up gratitude in this very unusual season of quarantine. I am sure that this is not what many of us hoped for or anticipated for 2020. Mamas, it’s ok to be honest with God about our disappointments. Surrender them to him and then take a moment to be thankful for your blessings.

Thank you God for a place to live.

Thank you God for the food that you provide.

Thank you God for my job at VIPKID.

Thank you God for my healthy familyyyyyyyyy.

(The last line I usually stretch out quite a bit.)

How are you stirring up gratitude in this season, Mamas?

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” Psalm 100:4

 

Wanting and Choosing Peace

Yesterday morning, around 3:30 am, my husband slid into bed. He’s a night owl, and I usually stir awake when he comes to join me in the wee hours of the morning. He proceeded to tell me how there was a rumor that our nation would be on complete lockdown due to the Coronavirus outbreak. We discussed running to the grocery store first thing when the sun rose to grab some items and stock up.

Yesterday morning was filled with me texting multiple Mama friends to warn them of the possibility. I wanted to share the news with them because would want to know! I have little mouths to feed, and so do they!

Last night as I reflected on my day, I realized that the rumor was just a rumor. But also, I was reminded how some cities have shut down completely. I don’t regret going to the grocery store, but I was saddened by the order in which I chose to set about my day.

Last night as I reflected on my day, I realized…

I want to run to the Lord first thing in the morning, not the grocery store. He is my Source and my Provider. I chose today, to spend time in His Word, reflecting on His promises, and journaling.

I want to bring peace to my Mama friends, not chaos. I chose to apologize to those Mama friends and shared an encouraging devotional I read instead today.

I and my children, along with everyone else, are processing a new normal. I want to adapt well and help my kids adapt well. In order for this to happen, I chose to acknowledge the emotions of disappointment and surrender any anxious thoughts to the Lord.

This is a time unlike any other that I’ve experienced in my lifetime. When the doubts and worries of finances, jobs, food, toilet paper, and the economy creep in, how do you want to respond, Mamas? What do you chose to do?

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

 

 

Switching up My Quiet Time

Once I entered motherhood, I wasn’t sure where my quiet time disappeared to. I always enjoyed waking up early in the quiet of the morning and spending time with Jesus. Beth Moore was my early time bestie.

But then sleep came in two hour increments, and I was struggled to keep up with the day to day chores. Finding an hour to sit and read where I wasn’t dozing off was rare.

I was at a loss. I thrive on structure and learn best visually through reading and QA formats. I remained focused when praying through journaling to prevent my mind from wondering in a million different directions. I found it challenging to hold my journal and pen steady while breastfeeding.

I needed to switch it up, and pronto. I was using the above as excuses to not spend time with Jesus. When I haven’t spent time with Him, it’s not pretty. My flesh becomes super fleshy. My weaknesses become weaker. I try to do this motherhood and life thing on my own strength. Like I said, not pretty.

I was resistant to any further transition because the new developments in my life were dramatic enough. I didn’t know if I could handle anymore.

However, I was tired of making excuses. And craved that sweet Jesus time.

Here are a few tips that helped me in this season:

  1. Switch your Bible version. I had been reading NIV, NLT, and even NKJ for years, grew up in Sunday school, and was becoming bored with the Bible. I know that’s not a very Christian thing to admit, but it’s the truth. My mom bought me “The Message” bible for my first Mother’s Day, and I found it was so refreshing. It was like God Himself breathed into His Word and made it alive again for me.
  2. If you prefer someone to guide you in your time, switch up the guide. I discovered Jen Hatmaker’s “Out of the Spin Cycle” my son’s first year of life and it was perfect. It’s quick, humorous, Jesus-centered, and relatable to Mommyworld. My current favorite is Paul David Tripp. I love his study, “New Morning Mercies,” where he presents the beauty of the gospel on a daily basis.
  3. Switch up your time, make time, and be flexible. Like I said previously, I used to have my quiet time at the same early morning time every day. When a newborn entered my world, I found it effective to read something on my phone, or a devo that didn’t require a ton of writing. I also found it helpful to do it whenever I felt most awake. Sometimes I listen to podcasts while I run. Other days I put on worship music. Your quiet time is unique and there are opportunities to be creative in how you use that time.
  4. Switch up your expectations. Like I stated previously, I have found journaling to be very effective for me. However, it was somewhat unrealistic for me to journal every day. I recently made a goal to journal once a week. This is attainable for me in this season, and helps keep me grounded in my prayer and reflective time.

What ways do you connect with the Lord, Mama? Do you have any favorite guides or authors you are reading?

Mothermostat

In the past week, I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night to my jammies and sheets drenched in sweat.

This fondly reminds me of my early postpartum days when I would perspire profusely every evening as my hormones aspired to find a new normal.

I’ve always been a heater at night. I must, however, have a blanket to snuggle with. Which means the AC needs to be adjusted to a cool temperature before cocooning myself and drifting off to dreamland.

Ah, the beauty of a thermostat. With just a few buttons, you can create the temperature your heart (or hormones) desire.

A thermometer is also a helpful tool, especially when our little ones are sick. A thermometer simply reads and communicates the current temperature in the room or person.

A thermostat, however, can be adjusted. Levels of hotness or coolness are changed based on what is needed in the current environment.

Let’s look at this real life scenario:

It’s 4:45 pm. Both my kids have eaten dinner. Most days I’m scrambling to put somthing simple together or serving leftovers for the third time. Our house has toys strewn over every square inch (or so it seems), the ground is covered with quinoa and whatever else we had for dinner (have you ever noticed how quinoa gets in every nook and cranny on a baby’s little body?), and it’s time to give the kiddos a quick bath before taking the family car to go pick up daddy from work so we can come home and they can bond for about 18 minutes with Daddy before brushing teeth, reading stories, and tucking them in bed. Oh, and all this needs to happen before 6:30 to prevent anyone getting overtired and missing that precious small window of oppurtune time to fall asleep.

My firstborn child starts to melt down at a rapid speed and high volume. My second born proceeds to throw herself back in the bathtub because she deeply desires to touch everything with her sticky dinner hands before you rinse her off AND doesn’t want the drain to be plugged in because where would the fun (or bath water) be in that?

Some days, I’m a mothermometer. Some days I give into the current temperature and allow the chaos to effect how I discipline, respond, and interact with my kiddos. My volume matches the volume of the firstborn and I’m throwing myself backwards mentally in my head.

Other days, I’m a mothermostat. Those days I choose to pause and ask for some much needed help from Jesus. When I rely on His strength in the midst of my weakness, I am able to contribute and change the current atmosphere in my home.

Despite the outward chaos, that sweet peace that passes all understanding rises up and words are spoken calmly.

What are you, Mama? A mothermometer or a mothermostat?

No Means Yes

I have a major case of FOMO. My college years consisted of jam packed schedules with multiple jobs and events. Cleaning jobs, babysitting jobs, a retail position, serving at my church, fun get togethers with friends…I barely stopped to take a breath.

I graduated college, began my career as an Elementary teacher, and got married all within a years time. My itinerary the first few years of teaching consisted of multiple week night commitments, my Saturday filled with homeless ministry and a standing dinner. This was in addition to navigating the balance of grading papers, testing, and all the balls teachers juggle.

Then a good friend recommended the book Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud. This book was life changing for me.

Fast forward a few years and I entered the beautiful challenging world of motherhood.

I was not aware of all the opportunities available for babies…music class, story time, gym class. The numerous supplements granola mommy bloggers said my kids had to have: cod liver oil, probiotics, multivitamins. The need for community as a mom, and the diverse ways I could seek this out: bible studies, life groups, MOPs. The multiple invites to play dates. The family get togethers.

I struggled to say no because I struggled with the fear of missing out.

One thing I’ve discovered over time is that sometimes saying no is really saying yes.

When I choose to say no to a family dinner at 7:00 pm, I am choosing to say yes to my children’s need for sleep. I am saying yes to our routine and the peace that results in babies that are well rested.

When I say no to an 8 hour church event on a Saturday, I am choosing to say yes to our family time. Family time that is so rare and precious with a Daddy who works so hard to support our family Monday through Friday.

When I say no to filling my shopping cart with those extra want-not-need items at the grocery store, or no to eating out, I am choosing to say yes to our budget. I am being a good steward of the resources made available to me.

My no, and my yes, will look different in various seasons. They will vary from other mamas.

For so long, I’ve focused on the no but I want to focus on what I’m saying yes to. Yes to putting God first and family second. Yes to intentional family time and Sabbath. Yes to financial freedom.

What are you saying yes to, Mama?

*This post contains affiliate links.

 

Identity Crisis

My son, Aiden, LOVES to dress up. Firefighter, Construction worker, Batman, Superhero, Daniel Tiger, Football player…the list could take up the rest of this blog, but we will stop there. Lately, he’s gotten a little, ahem, creative in his dress up.

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Every cowboy obviously needs a scuba mask along with a Mickey light up sword. And every T-rex needs a batman mask, safety goggles, and…a Mickey light up sword. Usually the sword accompanies all these unique ensembles, but it bit the dust last week in a sword fight with Daddy.

When I snapped these photos, I couldn’t help but think that the outfits reflect a bit of identity crisis. This Mama can relate.

It’s so easy for me to get caught up in being a Mama.

The night wakings, breastfeeding, temperature taking, meal prepping, dish washing, lack of showering/shaving/hair washing…the joy in seeing my children overcome a challenge, the delight in seeing them be kind to others, the celebration of healthy eating with a good attitude, the wonder of how much they have grown.

In the daily grind, it’s easy for me to get caught up in being a Mama, and forget who I am.

In the past, I have put my identity in many things-vegan, runner, teacher, bookworm…when I became a Mama, I discovered that motherhood can be all encompassing, all consuming.

I am a mother, but my identity is not in my motherhood. It’s not in being a crunchy/granola Mama, or how long I breastfeed my child. It’s not in my occupation, the food I eat, or the exercise I participate in.

My identity is a daughter of the King. Beloved. Fearfully and wonderfully made (despite my hairy legs.) Created in His image.

My identity is that I am chosen. Bought with a price. A Treasure of the Most High.

And this is your identity too, Mamas!

Take a moment to pause and listen to to who Jesus says you are today. Ask Him to be the firm foundation of your identity. I’ve found that when I am secure in who I am, I mother with more grace, patience, and love.

In what do you find yourself placing your identity? What truths do you need to be reminded of today?


Truths taken from the following verses: Psalm 139:14, Genesis 1:27, I Peter 2:9,                   1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 1 John 3:1-2

Celebrating Small Wins

Sometimes (okay, a lot of times!), it’s easy for me to get stuck on the mistakes I make throughout the day. My blunders, my son’s “oops”, or the hilly “hiccups” in a normal day can become a focused mountain if I allow it.

Sometimes (okay, a lot of times!), a Mama just needs to relate to other Mamas with the same struggles. I’ll quickly pull out the phone, send a text with an urgent request for prayer and advice, and feel encouraged by the sharing of their stories.

Sometimes (okay, a lot of times!), my vulnerability could quickly transform into negativity.  A few months ago, I was convicted with this truth.

I am all about transparency and keeping it real in my Mama world. However, if the focal point of my day is the one incident where my son didn’t listen, or the nap my daughter didn’t take, I’m missing out on celebrating the small wins in our day.

I was recently reminded of this after a field trip to Bush Wildlife Center. My son struggled at the end to listen to another Mama. As we walked to the car, I was contemplating about how I would lecture him on the way home.

That still small voice whispered, “Is that the one takeaway you want to remember from the few hours you were here? Remember the time he kept his hands behind his back near the baby alligators? Recognize his generosity sharing his snacks at lunch. Praise him for not running too far ahead and sticking close with the group. Honor his positive choices.”

So I did. I led him in a “win sandwich” conversation. I asked him what are some things he did well, pointed out a way he could improve, and then called out the great character traits I saw on display-his generosity, his love for his sister, his inquisitiveness to learn about the animals…

Sometimes (okay, a lot of times!), I challenge myself and my Mama friends to share the small wins of their day. What are your small wins to celebrate today, Mama?

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11

 

TGIF

Happy Friday, Mamas!

One thing I’m grateful for today is my Mama Tribe. I have a fantastic community of Mamas! I have friends I can text all hours of the day and night to ask questions, vent, share prayer requests, and exchange silly stories about our little ones.

Mamas that will hold my baby girl while I apply sunscreen to my son and theirs.

Mamas that have cooked my family a meal when my daughter was in the NICU for three weeks.

Mamas that encourage and build me up.

Mamas that speak truth when I desperately need to hear it.

Mamas that celebrate the end of each week with a Friday playdate.

About a month ago, a group of Mamas and their kiddos met at a park for a massive playdate. We enjoyed it so much that it’s become a staple in our week.

I thank God for every Friday because:

1. My hubby will be home for two whole days and we get to spend time together as a family.

AND

2. I and my little ones engage in this beautiful community called, “Friday playdates.”

We’ve rotated parks in Palm Beach County and today are venturing on our first field trip!

Mamas chat and celebrate our highs and lows of the week. Bambinos play and share snacks. Infants fall asleep in carriages or baby carriers.

I and my youngsters look forward to this day with great anticipation.

Do you have a Mama tribe? What does it look like for you and your children?

 

 

 

Pressing Pause

Our social calendar has been a whirlwind of activities the past couple of weeks. Play dates, family visiting from out of state, birthday parties…plus our weekly commitments which occupy two of our nights and two mornings. Every. Week.

Monday night as I tried to soothe my overtired baby to sleep, I realized I was not okay. If I continued at this pace, my family and myself would quickly reach a breaking point. I was reminded of the book, Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud. If you haven’t read that one yet, Mama, I highly encourage you to do so!

So, I am pressing pause.

Two days a week will be “at home” where I and the kiddos don’t have to rush to bring Daddy to work in the morning, jam pack our day to run errands and play with friends, and pick him up in the evening.

Yesterday was one of those days.

It wasn’t anything spectacular.

I didn’t cross many things off my to do list.

The day didn’t include tantrums.

It didn’t include a fancy home made dinner.

It did include pajama wearing most of the day and snuggle time on the couch while reading books.

It did include my son entertaining himself at different points during the day.

It did include my 8 month old taking a 2 hour nap.

It was more peaceful. More intentional. It was much needed.

What areas of your life do you need to press pause, Mama?

Love Run

In the spirit of new beginnings and goal setting, I have a challenge for you today. How many of you Mamas have set a goal in regards to your health or fitness? I have an awesome opportunity for you to do just that!

On February 10, there is a 5k event called “Love Run” at Jonathan Dickinson State Park. You can run or walk this event, which makes it appealing for a wide range of participants.

All proceeds go to benefit a village in Guatemala. My friend Stacy and her family united with a few other families in a Village Transformation Project with World Help. They are being the hands and feet of Jesus and transforming this village from the bottom up by providing: a well as a source of clean drinking water, a school, and a child sponsorship program. To find out more ways to help, contact her at: jimandstacy@icloud.com.

Have you ever participated in a 5K, Mama? No better time like the present!

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