5 Ways to Feel Less Frumpy As A Stay At Home Mom

Before you get worried, I’m not going to tell you to wear jeans instead of yoga pants. Let’s all breathe a sigh of relief and acknowledge that’s taking this way too far. No, what I’m about to suggest are small ways you can feel pulled together during the day, even as you step on Legos and swear you’ll be donating every toy in the play room next week.

  1. Take the time to do your makeup and hair

I know these might seem like fighting words when you barely have time to shower, but honestly- this works. On the days I don’t bother doing my hair, or swiping on some mascara, I feel more tired and less motivated to do the things that matter.

2. Wear cute earrings

Okay, so if your sweet little ones are around the 6-10 month age group I know that the long dangly earrings that we all love so much are out of the question: they’ll be ripped out of your ears and your baby’s first words won’t be ones you’re proud of. If that’s your situation, find some super cute studs that stand out, and help you to not feel so plain. My stand-by is a pair of silver hoops that go with everything, and even though they aren’t fancy by any means, I feel a bit more polished when I wear them.

3. Only wear clothes you feel cute in

When I first began staying home, I wore whatever lounge clothes I had collected in my college years. My shirts were baggy and shapeless, and my pants were sweats that sell for five dollars without even being on sale. In these clothes I felt as lazy as I looked. Over time, I realized that even if no one saw me, I needed to at least feel good- and I needed to make sure the UPS guy didn’t try to stage an intervention because I looked like I had given up on life. So, I began investing in more fitted lounge and active wear- comfortable enough to do the acrobatics required when raising two boys, and nice enough that if I answered the door, it wasn’t assumed I had checked out of life altogether. My current favorites are some active wear capris I found at Costco- and they have POCKETS. So you know, I’ve basically located the Holy Grail.

4. Take care of your hands

Even though they’ll be doing things like wiping bottoms and washing dishes- take the time to file your nails and even put some polish on them if you’re not like me. I get so annoyed when they chip even a bit that I remove all of it immediately. My solution has been clear polish-my nails look shiny and “done” and I don’t immediately go crazy if it chips because it’s not that noticeable. This is one of those small things that somehow makes a big difference. I haven’t figured out why yet, but it doesn’t really matter, does it?

5. Do something just for you

Read the book. Watch the movie. Listen to a podcast. Do something every day that makes you feel connected to the outside world, especially if you’ve got little ones that make going out a chore. You’ll not only feel refreshed, but like you have more of yourself to give to your kids- and that’s the end goal, right?

The bottom line is- put your oxygen mask on first, and you’ll be able to help those that need you most. Raising kids is a marathon, not a sprint- and taking care of ourselves along the way is vital.

I know being a mom is hard work- and in the most draining moments it’s hard to remember what God has to say- That’s why I’ve created a FREE printable download, that has a bible verse for the most difficult moments of motherhood (Kids having a meltdown in Target? Got you covered. Overwhelmed by the housework? It’s in there too). I love to encourage moms on this wild and crazy journey- and I pray this free printable helps you!

When a Dream and Reality Collide: An Announcement

I was sitting on an overstuffed pillow shaped like an elephant in my boys’ playroom, and doing my best Spider-Man impersonation, when my literary agent broke the news that Harvest House Publishers wanted to publish my book. It was one of those moments in life when the world stops turning for just a moment, when the ordinary collides with the extraordinary, and dreams crash into reality. My shaking hand still held the Spider-Man action figure as I stared in disbelief at my phone. This was happening.

I haven’t stopped thanking God for His immeasurable goodness since receiving the call, and I can’t quite stop thinking about how the small steps we take every day toward God’s will in our lives can amount to something more than we could ever dream for ourselves.

I’m writing a book about my transition of leaving behind a beloved career, to become a stay at home parent- and all of the unexpected feelings of loss and grief that accompanied it. It’s been almost seven years since I lived it, and yet that period of time remains etched in my heart. I’m so impassioned to share what I’ve learned with others. There’s a way to walk into this season of motherhood at home that empowers us- and helps us become the mother God planned for us to be, and the mother our children need us to become.

I’m writing about the ways God taught me about His unending love (and patience), when I felt lost and without worth-even as I followed His call. It seems fitting(and also hilarious) that I would be sitting on the floor playing super-heroes with my three-year-old when I received word that this dream God placed in my heart of sharing my story about true identity, loss, and motherhood, was becoming a reality.

I’m holding every mother close in thought as I write, who like me, felt a sense of guilt and a loss of identity when she dove head-first into motherhood at home. You are not forgotten, and you’re going to be more than okay. It’s time to embrace the beauty of this season, of God, and of the dreams that you, too, have hidden in your heart.

If you would like updates about my upcoming book, encouragement, and a behind the scenes look at writing a book (while also perfecting the art of cutting the crust off of sandwiches), please sign up for my monthly newsletter!

Blessings,

The One Thing You Need to Remember in the New Year

I live in a town with one stop light. There’s nothing special about it- nothing remarkable or noteworthy. It’s a simple town made of every day people, and for the most part, we all live our lives in a secluded fashion-so wrapped up with the busyness of life that we rarely live in community the way I wish we did. There’s one thing, or person, though, I should say, that my little town has that warms my heart.

You see, there’s an older man in our neighborhood that cares more about others than just about anyone I’ve seen. He gets to know each family he passes on his daily bike-rides, and makes a special note to remember the names of each child he encounters. During most of the year, he’s just a friendly grandpa type with a long white beard. During Christmas, though? He’s Santa, dressed in red with boots adorned with jingle bells, and he visits each home individually for pictures by Christmas trees. He rides atop a vintage fire truck a week before the 25th of December each year, posing for photos and handing out candy canes. As he holds babies and listens intently to wish lists, he addresses every child he knows by name. 

The look on my kids’ face when Santa wishes them a Merry Christmas followed by their individual names is a thing of beauty. “Santa knows your name, buddy!” I exclaimed as we walked home from our visit to the sparkling old fire truck a couple weeks ago. I was met with an awe-filled silence, my boy’s eyes gleaming and excited. Santa knew his name.

Known. Seen. Remembered. Don’t we all want to feel that way? Rest assured, friend- you are. Jesus knows more than your name. He knows everything about you. Your details. Your quirks. Those things that no one else knows but you- He knows them. He loves you anyway.

As most of us limp instead of sprint into the new year- let’s remember this one thing. We are known by the God of the universe and loved unconditionally from the top of our heads to the tips of our toes.

This world (along with social media, let’s be honest) has a way of convincing even the most confident of us that we aren’t getting much right. We aren’t doing enough, our house isn’t nice enough, our wardrobes aren’t stylish enough, the list goes on. So let’s get this one thing straight for 2018- the only thing in this world and the next that matters, is that He knows us, and we know Him. 

Happy New Year, friends. May it be blessed with the ever-present knowledge of who you are in Christ.

Are You Ready To Be Held?

Today has been a rough one. Today, like every day for the past week, my three year old cherub-faced boy has thrown a tantrum of epic proportions. We are in a season of screaming, and foot stomping that lasts longer than I have energy or patience for. Today, the trigger was simply that his shoes weren’t tight enough, and though I offered to tighten them, the screaming that ensued lasted forty-five minutes. FORTY.FIVE. During these explosions of feelings too large for my little guy to handle, I try my best to remain calm, and do what I can to make my way through the blood curdling screams without screaming myself.

Anyone that complains about the terrible twos has only one child that has not yet become three. Somewhere between the screaming and stomping he calmed enough for me to ask him a question.
“Are you ready to be held?” I asked, and inwardly winced, bracing myself for his response. As I asked the question though, I felt God ask me the same. You see, I’ve spent the last… I don’t know how long, trying to do all the things. I want to go to bed every night knowing my children feel loved, and my family feels supported. I want a clean house. I want approval. I want to feel accomplished. At my deepest core, I’m a people pleaser- and a God pleaser- constantly working to earn my place in their hearts. Maybe you can relate.

It’s not something I consciously do- and you probably don’t either. It’s the small voice in my mind telling me that the laundry should have been put away already, and the floor mopped. It’s the voice that tells me if I had just tried harder, things in just about every failed scenario I can think of would be different. It’s the grace that I strip from myself, believing I don’t deserve it- even if Jesus died for it.

It’s futile to try and earn favor with God, when we already have it. We are righteous in Him. Forgiven. Free. You probably know this. I know this. Our places in the Father’s heart are secure and unchangeable. And yet…my head continues to wrestle with the unspoken belief that if I just do more- for Him, for everyone- that my worth somehow increases. Oh, with my mouth I’ll tell you that Jesus did all the work on the cross. I’ll nod my head and tell you how confident I am of this- because I AM confident of this. In my day to day life though? I still try to earn it.

So today, I’ve decided to stop stomping my feet and screaming that I can do it all- that I can earn my way into the good graces of Jesus, because I’m already there. Today, I’m going to rest in His arms, and be held. Because today, I’m ready- and just as I stood waiting with my arms outstretched for my sweet boy to come running, I know He’s waiting for me to do the same. He’s ready for you too. Are you ready to be held?

 

Friends- would you do me a favor? If you feel like this post helped you, or that it might help someone else, would you share it on Facebook or your social media accounts? It’s an honor to serve you in this way, as always, and my prayer is that somehow, my words are a blessing to you.

5 Ways to Trust God More

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the relationship between faith and trust. Some might say they’re actually the same thing- and I wouldn’t have a very strong argument against that. I’ve been thinking, though, about how easy it is to extend prayers, confessing our faith in God- while still harboring an inner lack of trust that He will do what we ask- or even what’s for our own good.

Do you ever struggle with this? Sometimes I pray about something – because I have complete faith that God exists and loves His children- but after I say my silent “Amen” it’s as though my brain somehow still feels responsible to solve the very problem I’ve just supposedly left in the hands of Jesus. It’s so hard to let it go, isn’t it? To walk away from our deepest unspoken desires, and trust that they are safe where we’ve left them- with the One who placed those desires in our hearts to begin with in the first place (If they align with His will and Word).

I’m beginning to think that though faith and trust are very much related- if we aren’t careful, the two might not exist together as they were meant to. Not only do we need to have faith (even if it’s small), that God exists, He is good, and He loves us- but we also need to trust that He will keep His promises, His love is unconditional, and He is faithful. The Bible frequently mentions the word trust, the Lord’s trustworthiness, and that we are to trust Him. In God’s word, trust and faith are mentioned separately- because they offer us different things, I think. The word faith often feels general, while trust is specific, and intimate. When we truly trust that He will do what He says- it communicates the level of intimacy in our relationship with Jesus, doesn’t it? Any good relationship with those we love involves a deep level of trust.

How about you? Have you noticed a difference between having faith and truly trusting God? What does that look like in your own life?

Here are some ways I focus on trusting God:

  • Reading the Bible, every day- and researching any questions about the text that come up as I go.
  • Reflecting on all of the times Jesus has been faithful in my life in the past (He hasn’t failed me yet).
  • Getting honest with Jesus about my lack of trust, and repenting for it.
  • Thanking God for all of His goodness, and all of the blessings He’s given me and those I love, while thanking Him also for what He will do in the future.
  • Getting specific with God about what I fear, where I struggle, and how I need Him desperately.

I would love to hear about how you place your trust in Christ more every day- are there actions you take to re-center your trust in Him? Talk to me in the comments!

 

Give Your Kids- and Yourself A Break

You guys- life is hard. Parenting is hard. So many things in this world feel heavy right now- maybe heavier than they’ve ever felt before. When I was given the opportunity to help spread the word about my dear friend Kim Fredrickson‘s new book, Give Your Kids A Break, I jumped at the chance. Kim’s been a marriage and family therapist for more than 30 years, and she’s now facing a terminal illness. With no grandchildren of her own yet, she wanted to find a way to offer her children her timeless parenting wisdom that she might not be able to offer otherwise.

And so, she wrote this incredible book. It’s so full of wonderful and practical advice that Kim has clearly used and offered to parents in her counseling practice for years. Kim gives us real and tangible ways to extend compassion in not only the way we parent, but in the way we deal with ourselves. We can be so quick to judge the way we do just about everything- and to find a way out of that would feel a whole lot like a sigh of relief, wouldn’t it?

I’m so grateful she decided to offer this to the public, and not keep it hidden within her own family instead. Now, we can all benefit from her gentle guidance- and happy families and children will be the legacy she is known for.

If you’d like to order the book for yourself, you can get a copy here. The Kindle version is only $2.99! I hope you’ll join me in celebrating Kim’s accomplishment of recording her incredible knowledge for all of us- I’m so grateful. What would it look like to have more compassion for your kids- and for yourself?

Where is God

This is Where God is When Bad Things Happen

Two months ago I stood in the hallway of a hospital and heard earth-shattering news about my mother’s health. In all of the times I had imagined receiving such news, about anyone close to me, I never imagined the reaction that I actually had: peace. When fear began to eat away at the edges of the serenity Christ encircled me with, there He was again- pushing back the fear with His embrace, in the way only He can. There was pain, there was discomfort, there was uncertainty- and there was also the divine intervention of a Savior calming the storm within that none of us saw coming.

In our minds we often imagine unexpected or gut wrenching situations to knock us off our feet, to create chaos in our lives past the point of no return. The truth is, though, that in our tragic imaginings, we make the mistake of forgetting His faithfulness in the midst of heartbreak- His nearness in the center of pain. Our imaginations simply cannot conceive of His extravagant love that casts out fear and gives light in the darkest of nights. A love that rushes to comfort, to fill the cracks in a freshly broken heart.

My own faith is fraught with fragility, even when it masquerades as certain. My human tendencies forget the reality of God on a much too regular basis and I’m in desperate need of daily reminders that His grace, His presence, His love- are all more real than even the next breath I take. In stark contrast to my often fickle, forgetful faith, His faithfulness is abounding, unfailing, and trust-worthy.

Where is God when you need him most?

In those moments that feel hopeless and void of any kind of joy- He is near. When the phone call comes that brings you to your knees-He is near. In the dark of night when you lay awake imagining the worst is to come- He is near. His perfect love does indeed cast out all fear- we need only remember it’s presence. It goes ahead and behind, and circles back to cover us head to toe, so that we never ever walk alone. There is nowhere we go that He has not been- leaving peace in His wake, promise in His presence.

Allow yourself to feel the peace that His presence encircles you with. He’s enough for every struggle, and He is near.

How to Overcome Anxiety

 

 

Anxiety is as much a part of life as breathing for some of us, but that doesn’t mean that’s how it has to be. In fact, God never planned for it to be a part of our lives at all. This week I’m over at Moretobe.com talking about 5 tools I use to overcome anxiety in every day life.

An excerpt from Moretobe.com:

As I sat in the car, clammy handed, dry mouthed, and sick to my stomach with dread, I found myself left with the task of forcing myself out of the car and putting one foot in front of the other all the way into that dentist chair I loathed thinking about. The thing is, when you come to the end of your own strength, your own willpower, and your own ability, all that’s left is Jesus. And He’s enough. Here’s what I did and how you can connect with Him to face your fear in peace and find your courage”read more.

My prayer is that when you come face to face with your anxiety, that you also come face to face with your faith…and the reality that Jesus is enough, always.

Blessings,

3 Ways to Be Patient When Waiting Is Hard

My five year old spit the chewed blueberry on the dusty ground in disgust. “Yuck, this one’s sour!” I glanced to the ground where the chewed berry fell. “That’s why we only pick the blue ones, Buddy- we can’t pick them before God says it’s time.” We continued to walk the acres of green fields blanketed in blue sky, lined with endless blueberry bushes. Most of the berries still hung green on the branches, so we spent the morning carefully separating those ripe enough for picking from the majority that weren’t.

We left with blue-stained fingers and satisfaction with our half-filled bucket of berries. They were hard-won, as most things worth having are. On the drive home, I couldn’t stop thinking about how we can’t rush God’s hand. Berries won’t turn blue without the warmth of the sun, and our own plans and desires won’t come to fruition without the hand of God opening the doors ahead of us. And this is exactly as we should want it. Just as a berry picked before it’s prime tastes sour, so do any achievements without the blessing of God.

be patient

 

So what do we do in the waiting, when our hand feels tempted to pry the green fruit from its branch before He says it’s time?

We go to Him

Yes, He knows the desires of your heart. He is the God who sees, after all. Even when it feels awkward to bring your request to Him one more time, lay it at His feet, once again. God doesn’t tire of hearing your voice, your thoughts, your dreams. Confess your temptation to rush things, to take control- and then set that at His feet as well. Our first response should always be to run to His open arms, and confess our desperate need for Him to take the reins in our lives- because we will surely make a mess of it sooner or later. We don’t want to go where He isn’t- and so even when patience is difficult, we wait.

prayer 3 ways to be patient

We do our part

Sometimes I think we expect to play no role in His will in our lives- especially if it’s concerning something we really want. When we really desire something, it can feel a little self-serving to take action to make it happen. We fear we’ve made it about us, and not His will, and so we sit on our hands and wait for the miracle to arrive- whether it’s a job, healing, or finding direction- if He wants us to have it, it will happen, right? While this is true, I also think we need to understand that He moves in all things,and in unexpected ways. While He might heal you of your health condition miraculously, the miracle might also be found in a book that He leads you to that provides a path to healing. Sometimes, the miraculous looks ordinary.

3 ways to be patient

We worship while we wait

Though this sounds a bit Snow White-ish, those dwarves were onto something when they sang about whistling while they worked. Worshiping in the waiting is one way we can not only draw near to God during the difficult act of being patient, but it’s also the only way we will obtain the strength we need to do it. Instead of growing bitter or resentful as you see friends and family achieving their goals (even if they’re the same as yours!), ask God to give you eyes that see through the lens of gratitude for all the things He’s given you, and to not have a laser focus on those He hasn’t.

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient.– James 5:7-8

 

What Butterflies Teach Us About God

 

I saw the yellow monarch climbing gingerly over blades of grass in our back yard, it’s torn wing catching on each blade as it made the unending journey to the side of the yard. As incredibly beautiful as butterflies are, they are equally fragile. It happened over a year ago, and yet I can recall that spring day as if it were yesterday. Our cat most likely attacked it, as she was known to be quite successful in her attempts to catch winged things. I gently explained to my boys that we needed to help the hurt butterfly, and they needed to stand back, as I began researching on my phone how to help the insect best.

The wonders of the internet told me that I could, in fact, mend its torn wings with tape and a lot of patience. I was willing to try. I gathered it into a plastic box and brought it inside. It was clearly exhausted from trying to survive in the wilderness of a backyard. Butterflies were meant to spend their time flying, not climbing. I put sugar water in front of it, and coaxed it’s long tube-like tongue down into the liquid. It drank a little but continued to sit, stunned and tired.

I cut the piece of scotch tape knowing that my efforts would most likely be useless. I carefully aligned the tape with the edge of its paper-thin wing, and pressed softly. My hands felt huge and cumbersome for such a delicate task. I then carefully cut away the excess, leaving the wing with no visible holes. From the moment I put the scissors down, I knew that my solution would not be a success. The monarch’s wing fell to rest at the floor of the plastic tub. The tape was simply too heavy, and the butterfly would not be able to fly with it. Tape was no replacement for a gossamer wing.

Being the sensitive soul that I am, and wanting to shield my boys from the truth, I asked my husband to take the butterfly outside in the box, and then check on it the next morning before he left for work. I asked him to take care of it, if it didn’t pull through. I know this sounds silly to some- caring so much for an insect, but in those moments of coaxing this gorgeous creature to drink, and watching her struggle against nature to survive, I became invested in this tiny life, and hoped for a miracle.

The next day my husband took care of the butterfly’s lifeless body, and I began thinking about what this experience had shown me. I came away with this: There are some things that only God can do. With all of the knowledge we’ve been given or work to acquire, the bottom line of it all is that some things in life cannot be explained by human minds or fixed by human hands.

Maybe you’ve been given a diagnosis that has shaken your faith to its core. Perhaps you’ve been begging for healing, and the doctors have no answers to offer. Maybe you’re waiting for a job offer, and it’s looking hopeless. You might be fighting an internal battle that no one else can see, but God. Can I tell you something? He sees you. He hears you. He knows you.

The very same God that dreamed a butterfly wing into creation, is the same God that knit you in your mother’s womb. He knows you so intricately, so intimately, that every hair on your head is numbered. You are personal to Him. You’re not a barcoded mass produced product. You’re his child. Human knowledge and effort will fail. We are flawed. We try to fly with our own taped wings, burdened by the weight of this world. He, however, never fails. His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30).

I urge you to seek Him first even in the things you think you can fix yourself. He wants us to go to Him first, in all things. Don’t wait until you’ve come to the end of your abilities to reach out to Him for His. He is able to do ALL things. Ask Him to work through you, for His purpose, and you’ll have the power of the One who created the universe guiding your hands and mind in this world.

Butterflies aren’t meant to fly with taped wings, and you aren’t meant to depend on your own power. Your dependence on God isn’t weakness, it’s your greatest strength.