Hypocrite or Holy Writ

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Hypocrite or Holy Writ

You can walk into church a hypocrite and super sad and/or wearing a tiara like Mindy


Here’s the thing no one tells you but they’re trying when they sing “Come as you are” and saying “Oh, honey, I know it’s hard right now but the Lord’s house is where you need to be.”

We’re kind if saying it, but watered down a bit. Because what Jesus says is He WANTS your broken and WANTS your presence with Him and WANTS you to quit trying to fake yourself out.

Before church, like 10 minutes countdown to leave, is one of the strongest spiritual battlefields for a Momma sometimes. Not just because the wee one is crying and the husband might be missing (maybe you’re single moming it 🙌🏻#superhero) while you’re fighting the toddler in a tiara to de-accessorize down to just three, please. 

It’s a literal head to head, because the Enemy wants nothing to do with you being joyful in the Lord in a church building with other people shouting “JESUS!”

……….

This evening I was crying so much I couldn’t get the fake-up on which made us late to church. (It happens.) We weren’t able to sit with friends or in the “usual” spot. The man in front of me had cologne that wasn’t my favorite. The lady probably three rows back was interrupting my thoughts with her loud singing. A guy close by looked like a bad ex from the back of his ears down to the shoes he was wearing. 

I was real focused on worship y’all

Directed prayer is something our church does after singing a few songs. It’s a time to reflect, pray together as a congregation for the same thing. I got a little “right with God” about being so self centered and grouchy and really just down on myself for the “little sins” going on in my life unconfessed. But those prayers didn’t go higher than the ceiling as my Mamaw would say. (Kinda forgot p r a y e r is a time for the Lord to search my heart. Not for me to play a quick game of “Sorry!”) 

You know what the worship crew had the audacity to belt out after this prayer time.... 

“Great is thy faithfulness. Thou changest not. Thy compassions they fail not.” 

Nope. Can’t sing that.

“This is your altar...” something the Lord clearly said to me mid worship one of the first times we attended a new church that had no altar. (Like, where do I GO to pray, Lord?). Great is thy faithfulness… not mine, but Yours, Lord

………

“When Jesus comes back, what do I want Him to catch me doing?” was the question the Pastor asked. And there it was... Those tears I cried earlier in the evening were in vain. “I’ve done it ALL RIGHT! I’ve searched my heart and come up empty.” 

And from that cry at my altar of a chair with lights on.... I penned this heart response “You might have confessed and have forgiveness from your past. You might live day to day loving me. But I’m asking for your eyes to be on eternity during your every day. This skips tomorrow and two Wednesday’s from now and Christmas coming into 2020. Eternity is keeping in mind that my return is coming.” 

……….

The world is a lot more hopeful with kingdom eyes looking through a microscope. People dress up and make themselves smell good for things they’re excited to go to. Women make a joyful noise singing because they are happy in Jesus. We can see people that remind us of our past, but being far removed from that, faithfully see God had a plan all along. 

Coming to church in a drought, left filling the river and dry banks with tears during that one last verse the worship leader felt we needed (so thankful for one more verse).

………

So please, go broken. Go fancy. Go fake and prideful. Go worn out and humbled. God wants every piece of you.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

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Prayer Notes

Prayer Notes

Prayer and reading God’s Word are two basic tools we have in the toolbelt of Mom Life. However, these don’t come at the top of the priority list as often as they should. Really, they should be so second nature that they don’t even need to be listed.

You can get stuck inside your own head when it comes to prayer. “What do I say? How do I say it? Is that okay to talk to GOD about? Does He even care? Is now the right time? I don’t even know where to start!”

Something I have done that might help you as well, not to make it convenient or simplify prayer, but to help you get unstuck is to write down prayers. I will do this in the Notes on my phone. Why the phone? Aren’t we supposed to keep it old school, no electronics, when it comes to approaching God? Well, yes. You don’t need a cell phone to reach the Lord.

Always having your phone on hand, this is where things get simple. Instead of perusing Pinterest for a motivational quote, you’ll have a section in your Notes of prayers. Read something you have already written out and be inspired to start talking to the Lord.


Coming to God in prayer is as easy as saying His name and talking out loud (or in your head!) just like you would in conversation with anyone.
Jeremiah 29:12 "Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."

A constant reminder is what Jesus says right before He gives the example of what we know as the “Lord’s Prayer”
”…For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:8b

Opening up your Bible and praying scriptures is a great practice! You’ll get more comfortable with this as you practice it. Start with Psalms, Proverbs, or a specific story and translate it into a prayer. For example,
”Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.” Proverbs 10:12
PRAYER:
Lord, right now I have hate for (that person) so deeply that it’s causing a lot of issues in my life. I know that your Word says that hatred stirs up strife, so I need to give this over to you. It’s bigger than something I can handle alone. Let love cover all of the hate and emotions that go with it. The shame, fear, anger, and other negative emotions I let come up. Cover it with your love and let me be one that shows You by being someone who doesn’t act out of hate towards (that person). In Your name, amen.


Here’s how Prayer Notes work.
• Make a heading (forgiveness, hatred, envy, shame)
• Write out a prayer with a Bible verse that is fitting.
• The next time you’re struggling with that same feeling or issue, you’ll have a quick start to a conversation with the Lord.

I love that I can look back on prayers from months ago and remember when and where that conversation happened and the peace I felt following being obedient.

It is always so good to journal to kind of brain dump your thoughts onto paper. It slows down the scattered thinking process, and there is something therapeutic and healing about writing. Do this in an actual notebook if you find your phone is a distraction. I’m not trying to convenience a relationship with God, but instead finding solutions to a real issue… I over complicate the simplest of practices!

Copy and Paste these into your notes to get you started!

PRAYERS

Doing what’s right:
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105 God, this has seemed so big and so overwhelming that I have almost given up. All You ask of me is that I do the next right thing. It’s easy for me to react in fear or uncertainty. Yet You will lead me one choice, one response, one action at a time- through YouGidr Word, and through the Holy Spirit. Thank you for that. In Your name, amen.*

Temptation: “If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” Matthew 18:12 God, I need your help to remember Your faithfulness when these sinful desires tempt me to go against Your will for my life. I’m thankful for the forever connection I have to you becuase of Jesus. That even if I stray as the 1 lamb did, You will leave the 99 to come find me. Thank you for that faithful love towards me. In Your name, amen.

Restoration: “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,” Joel 2:25 God, right now there is so much unsettled in this relationship. I feel like I have wasted years not giving this area of my life over to you. I know that you can restore those years and Your word says that I won’t go hungry when I’m feeling starved of love and security. Your love is enough. May I always come to you first and ask for Your way, not my own. In Your name, amen.

Forgiveness: “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” God, I know that I am messing up in the area of forgiveness. Anytime that their name is mentioned, I twinge. Who am I to pass judgment on them and not be forgiving when you have forgiven me of so much? Help me to see what I can forgive for and to love my enemies. In Your name, amen.

Conviction: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 Father, You are full of mercy and grace, and I confess to unintentionally allowing things to become more important than You. Thank You for the warning in Your Word and for Your Spirit that convicts us of our sin. Please help us to see the areas where we tray, and give us the power to turn back to You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

*Two of these prayers are taken from an app I like to use for daily devotionals. First 5 has dozens of plans you can do daily to read scripture, learn, apply to your own life, and end in prayer.


Saying Yes Won't Spoil the Kid

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Saying Yes Won't Spoil the Kid

The combination of a rainy summer day, schedules leading to having just one kid at home instead of three, and the awareness that life should daily be given our best to the ones we love following the sudden death of a local Mom’s son had me saying, “Yes!” to my middle girl today.

I hesitated to share, because not everyone has the liberty to make their child feel special due to financial and/or time constraints. But then when I really thought of the parents that have influenced me to treat my kid extra special one at a time, I noticed something they had in common. They all have excuses. Too many kids, working a full time job, needing to tend to a child with special needs most of the time, literally no money to spare or some other issue that could come up. Instead of excuses, they made a way!

I didn’t want you to feel guilty, but now I kinda do want you to share in that emotion with me. Maybe guilty is a strong word. Let’s settle on “urgently yearning for making your child feel known and seen; creating a space in time with them that is just their own; setting aside your wants for their needs”. Do I need to go on, or are you already thinking “I MUST TAKE THE EXTRA TIME FOR MY KID(S) NOW!!!”


Chris and I find pockets of time or set aside a half a day, sometimes spend money and sometimes don’t. Without a concrete “we must do this on X day with X amount of money”, it just seems more natural.

So today, specifically, Mindy was in summer day camp and Dallas is in Florida for an alone trip with my Momma. (Something she has planned to do for years when her grandchildren each graduate from 5th grade…. wonder where I get the urgency to make my kids feel special? It was definitely done for me growing up…. I just didn’t notice the sacrifice until I had kids of my own.)

I had an appointment at 9:00 am until 10 for counseling. Chris was taking Lillie-Mae into his work until 1:00. The plan was for me to pick LM up after and head to Lake Winnie! Mindy would go home with a friend from school giving us the whole day together! Instead… it rained and my appointment was cancelled. “This is the way it’s meant to be.” had to be my response to changed plans or else the day would start on a sour note. Picked up blueberry donuts from Dunkin, picked up my girl and asked her what she wanted to do since the amusement park wasn’t going to happen. “SHOP!!!!” In my mind, I decided today would be a “Yes!” day (saying yes to everything), despite the excuses I could have.


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Why am I being so specific with our day? 1. To remember it. 2. Transparently show you the back and forth dialogue between reality and what we want for our children that is constantly pulling at this Momma’s heart.

And shop we did! Except one tiny detail… Chris and I have MAJORLY cut back on spending. Like 0 wants and no eating out (those $3 donuts were a splurge!) to plan for things coming up in the future. Lillie-Mae did have an envelope with $25 at home, so I told her we could spend her money. The “YAY!” response settled it. Off to Learning Express (Chattanooga’s Best and maybe only toy store?) for her to blow it all. On the way, I got a message from World Market to get a free Toy Story Pez Dispenser just for stopping by! I tucked that pocket of awesome away to share with Lillie-Mae later. She took a solid hour at the toy store.

Being a “Yes!” day, I did gently guide her away from the giant sparkly, fuzzy, stuffed things that she already had a collection of at home and back to areas of creative toys I knew she would love. Settling on a sparkly clipboard that opened to store her drawings in work and a panda bear ring, she was stoked! At the checkout, she saw that some things were monogrammed with paint pens. “I wish I could have that done on the clipboard, but I want to save my money for pens at the art store.” I so wanted to just say “If it’s just a few dollars, Momma will pay for that extra.”

Well little did we know that was FREE for her to do! Oh the sparkle in her eyes when the cashier asked her if she wanted it done and she could pick out any color. She became very talkative and cheerful as we left the store in the pouring rain. Asking how long we had to go to the store and when did we need to get Mindy? She is little Momma in our family, always thinking of others and punctuality.

At Michael’s, she learned real quick that a yellow clearance sticker was like a golden ticket. Racking up enough supplies to glitterify the whole house and paint her Daddy two “D’s for his office, because he didn’t have any decorations”, and a pencil box to match her clipboard, we headed to checkout! The total was about $1.50 over what she had left of the $25, so I told her she would need to put one thing back. “OH NO, honey child. You just wait.” Said the friendly cashier to Lillie-Mae who had been smiling up at her the whole time. Scanning one coupon… then another…. and one more, her total was just right! That SMILE on her face. Goodness, worth it all!

Now, Lillie-Mae still didn’t know today was a “Yes!” day heading into World Market where she got a Bo Peep Pez Dispenser with three candy refills, “One for brother when he comes back and sister and me! Do you and Dad like these too?” She didn’t ask for anything else. The lady did give her a pack of gummies that was the cherry on top of the candy mountain. At checkout, Free again!

“Want to eat inside somewhere Momma???” Inside is a big treat for just a lunch day, because paying for chaos at a restaurant isn’t my jam. She wanted to go to Steak N Shake, but honestly I didn’t think we would have enough time. Lillie-Mae, “Well, we might not have enough time to go there and get sister. How about Chick-fil-A?” That works! Little does she know that I have hoarded bazillions of points and have a never ending gift card that has been swiped three times but still has money! Jackpot!

Sipping her lemonade, she told me she was saving it to last all day. I told her she could get a refill. Eyes big as the plastic lid, “I CAN!!!!” Apparently my children don’t know this, because they get water refills when they run out of lemonade. She chugged that and then said, “Why did you say I could?” “Today’s a “Yes!” day. Have you not noticed.” She didn’t! And trust me, this Momma says “NO!” a lot. Getting a refill, she got one more freebie! A stuffed cow! Couldn’t believe the irony as I had steered her away from them earlier at the toy store.

What a gift this random turned intentional time was!

I want all kids to know they’re loved, freely. In my house, that starts with me and my husband making it a priority. Make the time for your own kiddos as you can. Trust me, it will be beyond worth it.

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Sleep

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Sleep

There’s this theme of “mindfulness” floating around on the internet. All kinds of inspirational quotes follow and how being mindful throughout your day can lead to a focus on what matters. This seems impossible, to stop and think, during a busy day of raising up three kids, running a business, and keeping marriage a priority. Throw in the 100’s of tasks in between those areas, and Whoa!… insert overwhelmed. Defined, mindfulness is the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.

How does this play into sleep?

Well, besides the fact that I’ve been up at night not being able to fall asleep due to worry, I wanted to play connect the dots on mindfulness vs busyness.

Is the reason you can’t sleep at night due to a checklist that doesn’t have all the boxes ticked? Or, is it because without being mindful, priorities have gone to the wayside. There are so many things pulling at our attention, literally if you still have toddlers at your toes pulling at your shirt.

Here are some unconventional tips to sleep better at night. Trust me, they work! You won’t find counting sheep on the list!

1. Keep your priorities straight- throughout the day, make a point to check off what matters. I am the queen of ideas. Does your mind ever turn off? I’ve found through chatting with friends, that some people literally have a blank mind sometimes. This blows my mind! It’s always on. This isn’t a good thing as I can get pulled away by the next best thing instead of putting work in on what needs to be done. Checking off what needs to be done at the start of my day leaves less anxious worry throughout the rest of the waking hours.

2. Create a routine- In the morning, it’s my goal to pick up, clean a few things, and get laundry going before the coffee brews. My morning routine sets the pace for the entire household’s day. Even more important is a nightly routine. I’m not sure what works for you, but for me it starts in the bathroom. Take the time to wash your face (oil cleansing is my new favorite method!) and brush my teeth. Start the dishwasher. Crawl into bed and turn on Netflix. I keep lavender essential oil close by to put a drop on my hands and inhale or to put into a diffuser. This is my time to tune out the day, and I can do so peacefully if tip #3 has been the focus.

3. Think on what matters- “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whater is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable— if anything is excellent or praiseworthy— think about such things.” Philippians 4:8. Do you trust that what God has put into His Word as good practice for mindfulness is still relevant today? I do! Behind every inspirational quote, there is a scripture that has already been written.

My Daddy always said that all of life’s problems could be found in the Word. I tested that one! I urge you to give it a try. Before you do a quick word search for “scripture on fear”, dig into your Bible to find the stories already been written with an ending.

4. Be in consistent conversation with yourself- My Mamaw was always muttering. Talking under her breath was her consistent conversation. Check in with your thoughts and emotions. Pay attention to that tightness in your chest or weightless feeling in your legs. Then provide an antidote!

Prayer is my antidote. Is it that way for you? Taking each moment during the day and being in conversation with the Lord will lead to better insight on your next best step.

5. Clear your mind- I mentioned Netflix, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen advice in any article written for “how to sleep better”. But it works for me! For a mind that’s constantly on, tuning into a fictional character’s life story helps me tune out the clamor of the world. What works for you to clear your mind?

I want to reiterate this thought, Is the reason you’re not sleeping at night due to busyness throughout your day instead of mindful intention?

A couple of extra tips for good night’s sleep: have a routine with your kids; explore aromatherapy for helping to clear and settle the mind; go to sleep at the same time as your spouse; have a lights out time and wake up time that is consistent.


Here are some quick facts about how important sleep is:

• while sleeping, your heart and blood vessels repair
• lack of sleep contributes to obesity, depression, and diabetes among other health issues
• between the hours of 1:00-3:00 am, your liver detoxes. If you’re not asleep by this time, expect to be kept up with restless legs, possible itchiness if you suffer from eczema, or just overall restlessness
• you need between 7-9 hours of sleep.
• good sleep can maximize brain function and athletic ability!

What fact most resonates with you? Moms with brain fog, turn off the lights sooner. Restless legs, create a routine and be consistent.


Here’s a sleep tracker for you! Fill it out and see how sleeping consistently makes you feel during the day.

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Mothers’ Sayings

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Mothers’ Sayings

Your words matter, Momma. As I’m taking a guess daily at life, evaluating whether or not I said or did what mattered in the three sets of eyes looking up at me, it’s the things that came out of my mouth that I knew shouldn’t have that make falling asleep in peace hard.

The couple of times my Mom said something hurtful to me in my 30 years of life, I remember like it was yesterday. You know what’s crazy? When I brought up those two things to her in just this past year, she didn’t remember saying either one of them.

I’m not trying to get you off of the hook for shooting off foul, hateful, critical language to your kids. Just keep it at the front of your mind (I’ll be right there with you!), your words matter. Apologies are always better than silence.

"Don’t be the reason your kid needs therapy.”

Opening the door up into my childhood through therapy brought a lot tumbling out that I didn’t like. As an adult, it was my job to now organize (throw out what wasn’t needed, store what was, and pass through the love of God some items that just couldn’t be tied up in a little bow). The point is definitely not to paint my parents or anyone in my childhood in a bad light but to let you in on what I do remember. My Mothers’ sayings… they mean so much more than a couple of off hand comments.


“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” Proverbs 31:26


*written in 2013 when Mamaw was still alive

Every day, I hear my Mothers' voice. My biological Momma, Nana, and Mamaw have through my upbringing, shared little tidbits of information. For my Momma, she would repeat these things to me daily. Nana, would sit me down and have "a talking" with me that always ended with, "Now, you know your Nana loves you and I'm usually not wrong about these things."Mamaw would mostly say things under her breath- I would have to listen carefully. But, I learned most life lessons from watching these women work and love throughout their lives.

"Don't ever go hungry without coming here first." 

I am so thankful that my Mamaw is still alive*. Her memory is not anything like it used to be- she still believes that I am the young mother to Dallas and that he is crawling around calling her "Maw". She will be 90 years old this June, and I can only imagine what her life has seen. I had the utmost admiration for her growing up- I loved going to the church to help her cook for the homeless. The sign from the road read, "Free Meal to Anyone in Need". It was my job to tally the people that came in and to stir the pots. At seven years old, I was saved. From that point on, Mamaw would have me go into the the dining room with the needy and pray. Every 30 minutes, I would go in there and ask a prayer over their food. "Don't do that rote prayer you said when you were little. And make sure you say Amen," she would remind me. Mamaw also headed up a food pantry and clothes closet for "any and everyone in need". After filling a cardboard box with cereal, flour, canned milk, and canned goods, she would tell them, "Don't ever go hungry without coming here first." As she locked up the steel door I heard the firm command, "You have to treat everyone equal- you never know when you will end up without anything." I could never imagine Mamaw and Papaw being poor. Papaw worked hard up until his very last days. But, she would remind me that growing up, she was embarrassed that she only had "peanut butter crackers" instead of a ham biscuit in her lunch pail. She ate oatmeal for breakfast, used an outhouse, washed her clothes by hand, and got an orange in her stocking every year at Christmas. She knew what it was like to not have as much, and she knew how to work hard. Mamaw was the first person I told that I was pregnant. Her response, "Well, that's alright. It's going to be okay. Babies are a blessing, and you're going to have one for a reason." In her older years (I wasn't around for the younger ones), Mamaw did not tell many people what she was going to do for the day, "If you don't tell anyone your plans, they can't tell you 'No'". She was always going. And as hard as it is to remember her saying, "If you quit moving, you'll just die," I know that she has lived and led a beautiful life! 

"You shouldn't go should'n"

I am fortunate to also still have my Nana around. According to her, she "still isn't old" at 85 years young. She is the most caring, level-headed woman that I know. I have came to her with my doubts and fears since a very young age. She has seen me through childhood friendships lost, bad school grades, teen pregnancy, too many of the "not good enough boys" I dated, and motherhood. Through her, I have seen her be a devoted wife and mother. Her advice may have seemed outdated, but I would always find myself following her recommendations. Many a time she has been upset with me worrying over the past, "You shouldn't go 'should'n over something you can't change." My favorite thing about my Nana is her sense of humor. She gets "tickled" quite often. It's hard to say what will set her off, but if she's not laughing then something isn't right. Many a time I have walked through "sticky situations" with her, and her final comment would usually be, "Well, if we didn't get arrested, then we must have done something right!" If I am ever in need of love and a lipstick kiss, I can count on my Nana. "Just a little Coca Cola won't hurt" and "A little sugar will settle your stomach"- her ways of enjoying the little things in life.

"Be happy, and they will be happy." 

My Momma... I think I fought against her up until the point that I became a mother myself. It's hard to understand the sacrifices they make and the things a mother does out of love until you find yourself looking back in your memory vault to see how she handled a situation. Then, turn and do the same with my own children. My Momma is a worker- she loves to be outside and do for others. I used to sit in the truck on the steepest of hills watching her dig a ditch in the Georgia summer heat. I watched from the window as she mowed, pulled weeds, planted flowers and then went next door to my Mamaw's and did the same in her yard (if Mamaw let her). "Always plant pansies for color in winter," was her advice. On sunny, cold, winter days, Momma would throw open the front door, pull up all the blinds and lay outside on the patio in a bikini- soaking up every bit of Vitamin D that she could. She knows how to live!  

I have probably went to my Momma for parenting advice 1000x's of times. I don't remember her raising me as a baby, but I think that I turned out alright. Therefore, I trust her wisdom. When frustrated with Lillie-Mae not falling asleep when rocking her, "Lay your baby down to sleep and she will sleep." And she was right! Lillie-Mae would talk, toss and turn, spit out her paci, and then just fall asleep. "I always just fed y'all when you seemed hungry." No 'by the clock' feedings according to her. My favorite advice, "Be happy and they will be happy." Dallas' first days were started with a smiling, singing Mommy even though I didn't always feel up to the task. 

Unfortunately, I have had my fair share of sickness starting when I was a child. After moving out, I would lay on the couch, delirious from high fevers, and my Momma would say "Go.To.The.Doctor." I would, and I would get better for a little bit. Then, I just "took my health into my own hands" and started trying every natural remedy to rid and ward off sickness. Now, with a built up immunity and Silver Shield at hand, I have my own ways. However, my Momma will stop by at will with a flashlight at hand, ready to look down my throat or in my ears to give her judgement of my condition. 

I don't have many "deep" conversations with my Momma, but I can always count on her to find humor in the situation. "Some people, you have to imagine they are 14. Then, you can just accept their ways." And she always likes to remind me, "Your middle name is Louise for a reason." Somedays it's to compliment and most days it comes with a head shake and stern smile. 

I am so blessed to have had these women as my "Mothers" growing up!

I love them all, and I believe that I have a piece of each of them in my personality. I hope I stay witty like my Nana, strong like my Mamaw, and beautiful like my Momma. 

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