It’s been 5 years today. FIVE crazy years! In some ways, I can’t believe it’s been that long. In other ways, it seems like an eternity. I still think of her daily because my heart loved her so much.
Five years ago today, February 21, 2013, my mom made the tragic choice to end her own life.
Life changed immediately for me. I was suddenly thrust into a horrible situation that began to unravel me in ways I could never have imagined. All of a sudden, I found myself on the most insane roller coaster that has seemed never-ending.
Grief has to be one of the wildest journeys known to man. The ups-and-downs of the grief journey have taken me to the lowest valleys in my life yet also to the highest peaks in knowing God’s love and grace. I have been forced to “hang on for dear life” to the truths of Scripture or else be thrown off the coaster into the depths of despair and sorrow.
I still have a hard time believing it all happened. It seems crazy and bizarre that my mom would make this choice. It feels so uncomfortable and shameful. Never in a million years would I have dreamed this would be my story today.
But it IS my story. It is the story that God knew would be mine one day. It is the story that God sovereignly planned to draw my heart to His in unexplainable and unimaginable ways. My story that would shape my heart to become more like His. My story that is helping me make different choices today with my own children, my own mental health, and my personal need for true Biblical community. Continue reading This I Know→
I’m sure you’ve been there before. If not, you will be at some point. I’m talking about that day in your life when the bad news comes, life turns upside-down, your loved one dies, or you simply are blind-sided by someone’s decision.
How do you handle those rough winds in your sea? What do you do to avoid drowning? How do you keep breathing when it seems you can barely stay afloat? Where do you turn for help?
A few nights ago these simple thoughts came to mind as I was praying for wisdom in helping a friend who is struggling with her own “hard.” I hope these will be a blessing and encouragement to you today. Continue reading When Life Is Hard→
Recently, our family began watching some old home videos that we had converted from old videotapes into DVD’s. The first one that popped onto the screen was the birth of our firstborn son. He was born 13 years ago! Since then, we have added 4 more children into the family. But there will always be something very special about his birth!
As I began watching the nurses bathe him, wrap him into a soft blanket, and place him into my arms, my heart was overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude, joy, and humility. I so vividly remember that mixture of emotions I felt as I nursed him for the first time. The weight of responsibility that I held in my heart to mother him in the ways of the Lord. The anxieties that I wouldn’t know what to do for him. The joys that came from embracing him in my arms.
My mind began to churn as I realized how little I knew 13 years ago and how much I’ve grown in these 13 years of motherhood. I’m so thankful for the growth in grace, the Gospel, and humility that God has faithfully worked within my heart. Looking back, I now share this wisdom to my “young mom” friends. This list is by no means exhaustive, but rather a few suggestions that surface to the top:
Be in the Word. Motherhood is a constant reminder of how much I need God. I need His wisdom and His truth to fill my heart and mind on a daily basis. The greatest gift I can give to my children is a mom who knows the Word of God and lives by it! As a mom of a newborn and young kids, it can be more challenging to find time for reading the Word of God. But it is possible and very important! Structure your day to allow for time in His Word. Let other things “slide” but don’t neglect reading your Bible. So much strength is given to us as we allow God’s Word to penetrate our hearts each day!
Pray constantly. Take every need of your heart to Jesus. He cares so intimately for us. Learn to talk with Him about every detail of your life. Run to Him when you need wisdom. Pray as you are nursing. (Keep your prayer journal with you and use that time to pray.) Go to God first before asking your FB mom friends for advice. Learn to lean heavily on the Lord and His wisdom. He never disappoints!
Spend time with God’s people. Do not neglect being involved in your local body of believers. I am so grateful for the support and strength I receive from the people of my church. I know that it takes A LOT of extra planning and effort to get out of the house and into church with little people. But God always uses His people to infuse my life with wisdom, love, friendship and laughter!
Find a mentor. This is HUGE! My mom was a mentor for me as I began the parenting journey. She encouraged my heart in the Lord in numerous ways as a young mom. I went to her for advice and wisdom in many areas of life. But I also have chosen a few other ladies who have walked the journey of parenting and are farther along in their experience to be a mentor to me. I am so thankful for the mentors that God has given to me. I value their wisdom, encouragement, and joy in the Lord. In January of this year, I began weekly mentoring three young moms in my church. They bring their little ones to my house and meet for accountability, intentional discipleship, fellowship and prayer. It has been such a blessing to pour into their lives some of the truths that God has been gracious to teach me and watch them grow in their wisdom as moms.
Join a mom’s Bible study. I had the opportunity to attend a Monday morning mom’s Bible study at our local church when my oldest three were young. I cherish those times spent in the Word, fellowship, and prayer with other moms like me and also moms with more experience and wisdom. I grew so much as a believer and mom during that period in my life as I engaged in studying the Word of God. I also needed that weekly time of encouragement with my friends.
Develop a flexible routine with your little ones. I’ll admit that I was a strict “Babywise” mom with my first two children. My personality thrives on organization, schedules and predictability. I feel that most people do life much better with a routine . . . babies and young children included. However, I think the key to routine is being flexible. Have a goal in mind or a schedule for the day but don’t be too attached to it that your day gets ruined if something goes awry! Babies are not robots. They will not always follow “textbook.” Some days they will want to eat sooner than every 3 hours. Bedtime may not always be at 7 p.m. So learn to “roll” with the days that end up being “off” the routine. And always value people more than your child’s schedule.
Be a reader. It has been a goal of mine since having children to always be reading a marriage book rotated with a parenting book. Of course, there have been seasons of life when I failed to do a good job with this. But overall, I have grown so much as a wife and a mom by reading good Christian literature. To this day, I still continue this practice and continue to learn from the wisdom of God’s people. I make time for what is important to me . . . and reading is one of those things that I schedule into my day.
Adore your husband. . .and make sure he knows it. Having a new baby or young children in your house definitely places higher demands on mommy for her time, energy, and patience. It is very easy to get swallowed up with caring for these little ones that you neglect to save any energy and time for your husband. However, when a young mom feels she must tend to every little need of the baby and places such a high priority on the needs of the child rather than the needs of her husband, she is asking for trouble in her marriage. I encourage young moms to go on regular dates with just your husband. . .get a sitter. Put your little ones to bed at a regular scheduled time each evening (long before 10 pm) so you have some alone time to spend with him. Save energy and make time for sex with him. Wear his favorite outfits and perfume. Make his favorite foods for dinner. Seek his wisdom and advice in child-rearing rather than telling him what you read on Facebook. Allow him to lead your family and make decisions for all of you. Do things with your husband that he enjoys. Express your thankfulness for him often. Be affectionate with him. Be very intentional to make sure he knows that he is still #1 with you!
Identify your season of life and be content in it. Life changes with a pregnancy. Normal physical activities may become challenging as your body grows to nourish a new life. Your body changes with the birth of an infant. Marital intimacy becomes challenging with the addition of a nursing newborn and a toddler under your roof. Having young children may limit your interactions with other families that you once used to socialize with on a frequent basis. Adopting a child into your family may mean you need to limit your service at church for a time in order to “attach” with your newest member of the family. It so easy to become discontent with the season of life we may find ourselves in. We may desire to sleep more, spend extended time with friends, serve in a ministry at church, or simply enjoy intimacy with our spouse without someone sticking little hands under the bedroom door. But I’ve realized that my life is an ebb and flow of different seasons. And God ordains each one and gives grace to walk in it with contentment. Don’t wish away your present season but seek to enjoy it and grow in it!
Be relational, not virtual. I am so grateful that I did not have the distractions of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram when I began parenting 13 years ago. Don’t get me wrong. I certainly enjoy social media and have gratitude for it. But I struggle presently to put aside my phone and engage face to face with my children! Social media is so enticing and can draw us into hours of mindless distraction. I have to constantly evaluate my time spent on social media and make adjustments. Also, I’ve found that so many young moms seek advice, counsel, and affirmation from online FB groups or a Twitter feed rather than learning and growing from the experience and friendship of a trusted mentor in their own church, family, or community. Our society is quickly becoming virtual rather than relational. I believe there is a real danger when we cease to engage in community with those closest to us and turn to social media and internet resources as a replacement for trusted mentors with experience and wisdom. Seek to do life with people closest to you . . . find a “real life” mentor and group of ladies to encourage your heart. Put down your phone or tablet and engage with the ones you love the most!
Allow others to love on you and your children. Accept help from the older lady in your church who offers to hold your infant so you can visit with a friend at the lady’s fellowship. Let the teenager tickle your baby’s feet and nose. Give Grandma or Aunt Susie a chance to rock your baby to sleep when they visit. Take the opportunity to have a date with your spouse when an older couple offers to watch your little ones. Let Great-grandma sing and read to your baby even if it delays a nap. Make others feel welcome to love on you or your children. It’s amazing how much we can experience the love of God through the love of others!
Rehearse the truths of the Gospel daily. As I reflect on the grace God gives to me daily, I am able to give grace to others in my life. As I meditate on the extravagant love of my Savior, I am called to deeply love the individuals in my own life. When I allow my thoughts to dwell on God’s forgiveness, I am able to extend forgiveness to my children. And the list goes on and on and on. Because of the Gospel, I am free to love and be loved, free to make mistakes and give grace, free to offer forgiveness and ask for forgiveness, and free to rest in Jesus Christ and all He has accomplished on my behalf. My life is full of joy, hope, grace, rest, forgiveness, and freedom through Jesus Christ! Friends, immerse yourself daily in the hope and beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Be in the Word, post Scripture verses throughout your home and car, listen to music rich with Gospel truths, and read blogs and books that point your heart to the amazing gifts of joy and freedom found in Jesus!
I’m sure I could add much more to this list but I’ll stop for now! I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a mother on mission for Jesus Christ. I’m still continually learning each day of this motherhood experience. May God continue to teach us all as we grow in His grace through this journey of motherhood.
Friendships. . .they take a lot of intentional effort and time to build. But they are so, so worth it! When I think of the many friendships I’ve had throughout my life, I find they are usually connected to a specific season of my life. Not always is this the case, but friendships can often change with a new or different season of life for me or my friend.
I have found that in my current season of motherhood (having 2 middle school kids, one elementary age, and 2 preschoolers), I must intentionally make time and invite friends into my life. It’s very easy to get caught up in the mundane duties of motherhood and neglect inviting others into my world. But I need friends and believe it is God’s idea for community among His people. I am so refreshed in my spirit and encouraged in my heart when I spend time with friends who understand the struggles of life in my season and yet remind me of the hope of the Gospel in day-to-day living. Continue reading Intentional Friendships→