What My Impatience Teaches Our Kids As I Rush Them Out The Door

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This morning was busy. Although I got up early for a head start, we were still running behind, struggling to get out the door on time.  We made it to the car just in time, only to need to go back inside to change a surprise dirty diaper.

As we finally left the driveway, I was taking a deep breath to compose myself as our son vocalized what I was already saying in my head…Hurry mommy, we’re going to be late!

Then, he turned to his sister, “Baby, you maybe made us late”. Uh oh.

While I didn’t use the words ‘hurry up’, he picked up on my impatient rushing as I demanded they put on their shoes and coat now. Plus, I’ve told him ‘we’re going to be late’ or to ‘hurry up’ plenty of times. An ongoing pattern.

Sigh…while its one thing for him to tell me to hurry, I don’t want him blaming his sister. Wonder where he learned that? While I have been careful not to say a person made us late, I have been guilty of blaming something – You know, we’re late because of that lost shoe, temper tantrum, or…problem. Not surprising he was perceptive enough to translate that as blaming the person.

Yep. Nothing like my own hurried, careless words being repeated by our child to stop me in my tracks.

Perhaps rushing around like a crazy lady morning after morning isn’t doing any of us any good.

I’ve been thinking about what I’ve really been teaching them with this pattern of impatient rushing. I often excuse the craziness of getting out the door by telling myself that being on time is a necessary life skill – And it is, but not like this.

I do want them to learn to be on time and respect the time of others. But I really want them to learn how to be on time without rushing, which requires preparation, flexibility, and grace. Even if we need to hurry once in a while, it can be done without barking demands. And, sometimes, unexpected things happen – it is ok to be a little late.

In truth, it is better to be late and not be a big ball of stress with two cranky kids in tow when we get there (you’d be cranky too if you were rushed into the car by an impatient mama!).

What is the point of being on time if you’ve exasperated yourself and those around you in the process? While I’ve heard the phrase “timeliness is next to godliness“, I’m pretty sure God is appalled by the rushed methods employed by many parents as we force our kids out the door.

While I may be reinforcing the importance of being on time, there is much more they are learning from my hurry – and most of it is unimpressive.

What My Impatience Teaches Our Kids As I Rush Them Out The Door:

  • Their last-minute (albeit important) need is a hassle they may even feel they, themselves are a hassle. I should be grateful we had the chance to change that diaper BEFORE we left, even if it means removing her coat, hat, mittens and boots, and putting them all on again (yes, it is snowing in April in MN)
  • Being too busy is OK, and a way of life – is this how I want them to treat their families when they grow up?
  • Being late is an excuse to forego kindness and gentleness – we taught Ephesians 4:32 to our son and often talk about being kind to others. As I hurry him along, sighing and making demands, I’m a hypocrite, undermining my own efforts. Of course he will turn around and do the same to his sister – he learned it from his mama!
  • Being on-time in tears, angry, or frazzled is better than being late – nothing like a stressed out, tearful family, on-time on to church…because that will get them in the mood to worship the Lord (note the sarcasm)
  • What’s next is more important than right now – There is nothing wrong with purposeful preparation, but worrying is a whole different thing. They will never learn to just be if I’m impatient to move on to the next thing or how what we are doing now is taking too long
  • Being on-time is more important than pausing to help them learn to zip their coat, tie their shoe, answer a question
  • Getting ready to go isn’t fun – if it always ends with an exasperated mama or daddy, or kids in tears…I would drag my feet too
  • Everything must be done quicklywe don’t have time to appreciate details, make observations or ask questions. Oh, the teachable moments I am missing!
  • A schedule is more important than what they are doing now
  • They slow me down – I never want them to think I’d rather they weren’t with me so I could go faster, but sometimes my words or actions may communicate exactly that. Ouch.
  • In a hurry, their feelings don’t matter ever tell your child you don’t have time for their meltdown? Sadly, I have, even when it was fueled by my own sharp tone? How wrong is that?
  • They can’t do anything right, or fast enough if we haven’t allowed enough time, they probably can’t do it fast enough. When hurrying, they will make mistakes, especially if I’m barking orders to hurry
  • If you’re late, it’s ok to be cranky, all the way there – sometimes we just need to accept we’re late. Don’t sit with clenched jaws in a car full of tension all the way there, turn on the radio and move on! Better to be there happy and late, than stressed and still just as late.

There are very few instances where the cost of impatient rushing is really worth it. Time to slow down, mama!

7 Reasons This Mama Wakes Up BEFORE The Kids

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Once upon a time, I was a natural morning person. It was normal to wake before my alarm with a spring in my step – motivated to exercise, get ready and get to work early. That said, I wasn’t necessarily a ‘social’ morning person – I needed time to get my head on straight before attempting conversation.

Ready for the day – but only after being awake for an hour or two.

I purposefully went to work early to my coffee while sorting through emails. By the time co-workers arrived, I was adequately caffeinated and focused. I planned my day but was able to be flexible. Like any day with kids, a day in my former job was rarely what I expected it to be.

Then, we had kids.

After 15 months of consistent and severe sleep deprivation due to a hurting baby, a semblance of sleep normalcy returned.  However, sleep has never been the same. In just the past month we’ve had all kinds of night-waking due to dirty diapers, coughs needing a nebulizer, bloody noses, wet beds, a cold or hot child needing different jammies or an extra blanket, illnesses, sore legs, itchy skin, teething, falling out of the bed, thunder storms (OR clouds that might storm), burned out night lights, children claiming they are not tired at 2 AM, and…sigh…I’m sure I’m missing something.

The result? I have admittedly become a sleep-worshipper. Now, the idea of me being a morning person is downright laughable. 

Problem is, sleeping in until the kids wake me is not pretty. I greet those sweet joyful faces with an ill-prepared, impatient, attitude, still in the fog of sleep. You would think after two years of being home with the kids I’d have this figured out.

The truth is, I used to get up and prepare myself for my job. Staying home with our kids is no less of a ‘job’ than my previous employment. Staying in bed means I haven’t prepared at all – we all pay for it. In fact, I could easily argue that being mentally ready and prepared is even more important now because consequences are endured by our children.

So, I’ve been experimenting with changing my routine to make myself into a morning person again. It’s time to be purposefully prepared…

I started ‘for the kids’, but in reality, it has been as beneficial for me as them.

Our kids get up between 7 and 8. Most days, it’s 7:30. By getting up at 6, I now have between 1 and 2 hours without kids.

Alone.

Quiet.

To do whatever I want as the sun rises.

It is no exaggeration to call these mornings glorious.

Why? Here are 7 benefits I’m now experiencing. Not sure you can wake up that early? Start with just 15 minutes. Trust me, you’ll like it so much, you’ll want more. I’m actually considering getting up even earlier.

7 Reasons This Mama Wakes Up BEFORE The Kids

1. Exercise

While I often feel like a glorified pack-mule, hauling bags and kids everywhere, usually the most aerobic exercise I get is a quick walk/run around the block. While I tell myself I’ll exercise during nap time, I end up cleaning or relaxing. If not first thing in the morning, exercise doesn’t happen. Getting up at 6 means not only do I exercise, I exercise without interruption.

2. Quiet Time

If you’ve tried to read your Bible, pray, journal, or do anything that sounds like reflection in the presence of a 2 and 4-year-old, you know the result is endless interruption and likely frustration. Getting up early allows focused time, leaving me recharged and equipped for the day.

3. Caffeine

What makes a peaceful quiet time even better? Hot coffee, and finishing the whole cup. Coffee after the kids are up is found on the counter by my husband when he gets home from work, cold and half-full. Now I enjoy caffeine mixed with workout adrenaline when they wake. In other words, by the time I see them, I feel fantastic.

4. A Step Ahead

Staying in bed does means warm blankets and a slowly brightening room – tempting, I know. But it also means when I hear crying and finally get up, I stumble bleary-eyed into our daughters room. She greets me with ‘Yucky’ and ‘Big One’ (you know what that means). After changing her diaper she points to her hair and says ‘knot’ because she twirls her hair and it is a rats-nest each morning. By now, her brother has joined us and is desperate for breakfast, and ready to burst into tears because I’m just not going fast enough. Even though we’ve just begun, mornings often feel like a rude-awakening – from the bliss of a warm bed into a reactionary mode where I’m always one step behind. Waking early means I’m alert and ready to help them. I usually have breakfast on the table so our son can go eat, preventing hangry whining – I call that sweet victory.

5. Planning

I love having a moment to plan the day. I might even pack snacks or the diaper bag before the kids get up. Plans may change, but I’m more likely to be flexible. Because I’m prepared, I can help the kids know what to expect so they are more likely to transition quickly, with a good attitude.

6. My Full Attention

Instead of being preoccupied the kids have my undivided attention because I’ve already covered my bases. I am more patient, responsive, and less likely to frustrate them by being absorbed by something else and asking them to wait.

7. Relationships

One of the greatest benefits of rising early is hearing the first noises our kids make. I can go in for morning snuggles before they fully wake up. Hands-down, this is worth every minute of forfeited sleep. It helps them wake with a smile. Another benefit is getting to see my husband before he leaves for work. A short conversation over coffee with a morning hug and kiss is delightful.

Ready to be a morning person?

‘You Are My Sunshine’ Birthday – DIY Bird and Sunshine Garland

You Are My Sunshine Birthday DIY Bird and Sunshine Garland

In March, we celebrated our daughter’s second birthday. The house was decorated with a ‘You Are My Sunshine’ photo birthday banner, strung using patterned paper covered clothes pins. To brighten things up a bit, we made a few strings of bird and sunshine garland using patterned scrapbook paper and thread.

Patterns:

birds and sunshine

Five patterns of colored (non-yellow) scrapbook paper were used to cut 15 each of birds and wings. To mix things up a bit, 5 birds were cut facing one direction and 10 the other direction. Three patterns of yellow scrapbook paper were used to cut 12 each of suns and 2″ circles.

assembled birds and suns

Birds and suns were assembled using a glue stick, making sure each bird and sun had two different patterns.

Bird and Sunshine Garland

The birds and suns were strung on both using a needle and thread in a pattern (1 sun, 1 bird, 1 sun, 2 birds), 6 inches apart. Tape was applied over the thread in the back to secure each bird and sun in place. Both horizontal and vertical garlands were made.

Since similar paper was used for the photo banner, the garland was a great compliment. The light-weight garland was was hung using Scotch tape – easy to put up and remove.

The kids loved the garland and photo banner so much, we left both up through the Easter holiday. We are just taking it all down today, almost a month later! The decorations will be saved so some will be modified for our daughter’s room when she transitions from her crib to a bed in a few months.

‘The Bunny’ Isn’t Going Anywhere…Ideas For A Christ-Centered Easter

the bunny

Did anyone notice that the Easter candy arrived at the same time (or earlier) than Valentine’s candy? I know we joke about Christmas in July, but I am not so sure how I feel about Easter in January, even though the hope and joy of a risen Jesus Christ is worth celebrating every day.

What I’m not so sure about is the drawn out bombardment of the Easter bunny, spreading his marketing agenda through children’s cartoons, billboards and aisle endcaps – obviously targeting children, parent and grandparents.

Now, I’m no bunny-hater – I grew up celebrating Jesus’ resurrection at church, with a basket of Easter treats at home. ‘The bunny’ hid eggs and treats all over our house (because usually MN Easter is cold and snowy or very wet) and we enjoyed many challenging egg hunts as a family. We dyed eggs and I have very fond memories of all aspects of Easter and the childhood wonder that goes with it.

What I struggle with is how to embrace both the bunny and Jesus with a consistent, Christ-centered message. I want Easter to be so much more meaningful to our children than a day celebrating a bunny, hopping from house to house, leaving eggs filled with candy. Up until this year, we’ve kind of avoided the issue. Last year our son was 3 and participated in an egg hunt but there had been little talk about the actual bunny.

It has never been our intent to shelter our children from the bunny entirely. Plus, sheltering from the bunny is simply not practical, and perhaps not even possible. The Easter Bunny is a dug in, popular figure who isn’t going ANYWHERE. The way I see it, the bunny and I are going to have to find a way to co-exist, and I’d rather it benefit our children by pointing them towards Jesus. Easter means so much to me, I long for them to feel the same way, long after the childhood wonder of the bunny has worn off.

When our son learned about Easter at preschool last Thursday, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Since the preschool is in a church, I was hoping what he learned would be in line with what our family believes. When I picked him up, he had decorated a cute little white bag with a face and ears like a bunny. He was extremely amped up and excited to see what the Easter Bunny had left in the bag while they were outside playing.

I thought…uh-oh. We haven’t talked about the Easter bunny yet. But I was blessed and pleasantly surprised to see the careful and intentional instruction of his preschool teachers. Inside the bag were 3 small (nut-free!) treats, some of that fake grass (annoyingly messy, static-charged, impossible to clean up…but I digress), and one easter egg with a heart sticker on the outside.

The egg was empty.

I asked my son, why is the egg empty? With delight in his voice, he told me what he had learned at school:

“It’s empty because Jesus isn’t in there anymore! He’s alive! It has a heart on it because Jesus is in my heart” (let’s talk about how these words make MY heart leap for joy). Then, “Easter isn’t about candy or the Easter ‘rabbit’, Mom, it’s about Jesus”.

If he’d have been a teenager, I’m sure his final, matter-of-fact statement would have been followed by “Duh” by the tone he used. For now, I’m glad he doesn’t know that term yet.

While we’ve been talking about Easter and Jesus’ death and resurrection for weeks, with reinforcement from Sunday School, this is the first time he really seemed to be able to verbalize it.  I was amazed to hear him profess how the Easter bunny wasn’t at the heart of Easter. We’ll see how he feels on Sunday after he gets his basket, but for now, this is a good start.

Friday morning, he informed me that if we don’t have a bag or basket to leave out for the ‘rabbit’, he won’t come. He reasoned, “We need to get one. For baby (his sister), too”.  As in, right now. 

SO, off we went to Target so he could pick out two buckets with shovels to use as ‘baskets’ this year. He wanted nothing to do with a true basket, because “you can’t play with it. It might break.” I found this logic to be pretty smart, and forward-thinking for a 4-year-old.

While I wasn’t sure how we would embrace the Easter bunny, I see no harm in using ‘the bunny’ to educate our children about Jesus and the true meaning of Easter. This year, ‘The Easter Bunny’ is planning to give our son the book, Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones in his Easter Basket. It is our plan for our family to read the book together as a family devotional every evening after dinner.

Other book ideas for ‘the bunny’ to put in your little one’s Easter baskets include:

Given our son’s new-found understanding of the Easter bunny, I figured I better get my act together. I spent the past few days, searching for other, free ideas to incorporate into the next couple days, and to plan for in future years.

For a wealth of great Easter ideas, I recommend you pop on over to the Happy Home Fairy – the blog is filled with simple and great free printables and activities. While we won’t be doing all of these activities this year, I pinned a bunch of them on my Easter Pinterest board to use in the future. In particular, I liked:

Other options from other websites to use for Easter baskets or activities include:

What are your best go-to ways to discuss the ‘bunny’ and Jesus at your house?

 

He is Risen, Indeed! Happy Easter!

He is Risen! – But We Must Have Faith To Claim Victory In Our Everyday Lives

John 1633

This Easter, the best way to celebrate the gift of Jesus is to share what God has been doing in my life this past year. Last year, Easter exposed a void in my faith that I ddin’t even know was there. Deeply painful at the time and very personal even today, I wasn’t sure I would ever share this here – but the work of God and His victories in our lives is always worth sharing, even when it is beyond our comfort level. Sorry, this is going to be a long one…Here goes…

Last spring, the women’s bible study studied the book ‘Fearless” by Max Lucado. After the first session, I arrogantly (and ignorantly) told my husband, “The book seems good, but I really don’t struggle with fear”.

Somehow, I thought that learning what God’s word has to say about fear didn’t apply to me –  a grievous mistake. We completed one chapter of the book before Easter.

You know how some years Easter seems to creep up on you? I’ve had plenty of years when I’ve neglected time with the Lord and haven’t been in His Word as much as I should have been. But, last year, I had been studying the book of Matthew in BSF. For months, I studied Jesus’ life and ministry. Last year I felt ready for Easter with the study of Jesus’ life and death fresh in my mind. I anticipated an Easter with family, filled with gratitude, joy and peace.

I entered the weekend on a perceived spiritual high, having no idea what was about to hit me. I was woefully unprepared.

With family visiting, we were invited to join the rest of my husband’s family at his mom’s church on Easter morning. The idea of those we love, standing together and worshipping the Lord is a joyful one.

What could go wrong?

We walked into the church (which is not our home church), and joined our family. As we took our kids to children’s programming, I noticed tables with donuts and pastries, a treat for the special day.

It took just one child running by me, carrying a pastry, dropping bits of almond on the floor for paralyzing fear to seize me. Our son has a nut allergy, and I had forgotten the Epi-Pens and Benedryl at home – an hour away. It isn’t that an Epi-Pen means safety. It does not! But not having it with me was negligent. It showed my lack of preparation and foresight that I usually have before walking into any unknown environment with our son.

I was as unequipped with his medications and planning, as I was in my own faith on a spiritual level.

I dropped him off in his room and had a sigh of relief as the staff asked me if he had allergies before I could tell them – even with it on the tip of my tongue in my now hyper-aware state. Initially they weren’t planning to provide a snack, so I felt comfortable that the room would be safe, even if the hallways were littered with nut-contaminated (albeit TINY) crumbs. I joined our family in the sanctuary and waited for the service to begin.

I tried to keep it together, but felt rattled. Unsettled.

A woman from the childcare came by and showed me a dixie cup of cookies and asked if my son could eat them. I told her without a label to read the answer was no. They came back later and asked about graham crackers, but again, no label. My anxiety climbed in the very room designated for the worship of the all-powerful God.

As the service began, I sang but the words came out hollow. I prayed for peace and protection. But I was preoccupied, fearful and frustrated with my own poor planning the entire service. My prayers pleaded but were powerless as fear exposed my unbelief.

It felt like both the longest and shortest Easter service I’ve ever been in. I longed for it to be done so I could hold our son, but I longed for it to continue so I could find peace and worship Him fully.

When it ended, people all around me were joyful. I felt defeated.

And still very afraid. I could not shake it. I was so ashamed that my faith was so weak. I was discouraged that it took so little to leave me feeling exposed and that I could not find peace. This was beyond anything I had ever felt or encountered before. It hurt.

I ran to our son and found him safe and sound. He had a wonderful time and told me all about how Jesus had risen. We met our family in the hallway. Many of them had donuts. I kept him close to me. As my son looked around, he asked for a donut. Squatting down, I told him that we were going to grandma’s to eat and had plenty of treats. I showed him how his mom, dad and sister didn’t have a donut either.  But as one might expect, he got upset. Tears welled up in his big brown eyes.

He lashed out, pushing me back and crying out in frustration. He was right. This wasn’t fair at all.

Now choking back my own tears, I signaled my husband we were leaving and scooped our son up as he wailed and ran to the parking lot. By the time I reached the car, we were both in tears. And now the poor child thought he was in trouble for pushing me. We were a mess. There was no way I was going to discipline him for being frustrated because yet again, he could not eat what everyone else was having. I was frustrated too, but grateful we were in the car, away from the crumbs.

I told him I was sorry he couldn’t have the donut and just hugged him until everyone else came out. I was afraid to say anything more because I didn’t want him to sense my fear. As we drove to my mother-in-law’s house, I tried to shake it off. I didn’t want to talk about being afraid in front of our son, so I didn’t talk to my husband about it.

The fear and startling lack of peace remained.  All day. As our children delighted in their lovingly and carefully prepared nut-free Easter eggs and baskets, as we laughed and talked, and as we celebrated the victory of Jesus Christ over death, and the sacrifice He made to save us from our sins.

Who would expect something as simple as a donut could bring me to my knees, shaking in fear on Easter Sunday? Certainly not me – I was on a spiritual high, remember?

Easter. The day that highlights the POWER of God and the sacrifice, love, grace and mercy of a willing savior. I was there to worship Jesus, who chose to come to earth, humbled in a human body, choosing to serve and forgive His own creation, even as they rejected Him – A creation that should have known He was their savior – A creation that scorned Him, plotted against Him, and ultimately killed Him although He had never sinned. Not once.

He chose to do it, and in doing so, He took upon Himself, not only my sins and but your sins if you believe, confess and call on His name. He died, willingly, not using His power to stop the pain, suffering, and injustice. Instead, He cried out asking the Father to forgive the very men who were crucifying Him. Then, of His own power, He died, and rose again 3 days later, conquering death and sin. He saved me. He chose me. Jesus is now in heaven, alive, mediating on my behalf, and God the Father now sees me through the lens of Jesus’ blood. Forgiven. Sinless. Holy.

If Jesus Christ is all this…how could I not believe that He could protect our son, whom HE created and loves, from a peanut?

As I wallowed in fear and sadness, Satan was momentarily victorious in my life on a day when I should have been joyously celebrating the victory of Jesus Christ. What more could Satan want than to steal the praise of God as I surrendered to fear? In doing so, I made the day about my own fear and lack of trust. A starling defeat in a season when I had been growing spiritually.

In the days that followed I felt shell-shocked. I downplayed my fear when I mentioned it my husband before bed that night, and then he left on a business trip in the morning. I couldn’t figure out why the fear remained and was so powerful. I decided not talking about it would make it go away.

I was wrong. Once you’ve experienced paralyzing fear, it is far too easy to let your mind wander to what could have happened. It is far too easy to let your mind dwell in dark places that only heighten the intensity of fear and fuel it with more power. I tried to ignore it, but instead it consumed my thoughts, running rampant.

Looking back, the entire situation caught me off guard for a few reasons. First, I had not yet experienced seizing fear about our son’s peanut allergy, even when he was diagnosed two years before. Why? I controlled his environment and food. I had never really had to trust Him because I was trusting myself. Second, my lack of preparation forced me to see my lack of control over our son’s safety. I never forget the Epi-Pen! Third, I tried to pretend I wasn’t afraid because I knew in my head I should trust God, but lacked the perspective and trust to surrender my son’s life.

While doing all I can to keep him safe is absolutely my job, there is simply no way I can control everything. Practically, I should have simply had him sit with us in church, because that would have been the safe and wise choice. And my lack of preparation was a problem I do not plan to repeat. But this was much more than just forgetting the Epi-Pen and being surprised by a donut. There was a much deeper heart issue. I had been so prepared up until that point that I had a false sense of security. By feeling like I had everything under my control, I didn’t have to face reality. I had never surrendered to or even considered the fact that I don’t have this all buttoned up. I never asked myself if I trusted God in this area.

Not having control and ability to keep our son safe was a new feeling – one I still don’t like. But it is the reality all parents face. We will all face fears; of allergies, strangers, accidents, bullies, and choices they will make. We will face the reality that we cannot possibly control everything in our children’s lives as they grow up. Whether we want to or not.

In the middle of the night, my husband out of town, I found myself seized by fear, and crying. Not just weeping, but I think I’ve heard it termed –ugly crying. That following Tuesday, still struggling, I shared with our bible study what had happened. In a rare show of public emotion, I not only teared up, but I sobbed. I choked on my words.  Women dug in their purses and handed me tissues, squeezed my shoulders and gave hugs. They offering wise and Godly advice. They prayed for me. I left encouraged instead of embarassed. They blessed my socks off

They changed my thinking by pointing me to a powerful God who can conquer all of my fears for me if I give surrender to Him and trust that He has them under control. This time, with the truth spilled and prayers of wise Godly women spoken on my behalf, when I then asked God to give me peace, I felt it. Tangible. Powerful. Real.

It wasn’t that the peace wasn’t available on Easter Sunday. It was. But I trusted what my eyes saw – nut covered pastry crumbs – and not what my faith and the Holy Spirit were shouting within me. I learned a very powerful lesson. Fear is a not to be underestimated. It cannot be ignored. It has to be addressed. It cannot be stuffed, or we will give it reign in our life. Delaying the admission of my fear was wrong, and at my detriment.

Fear must be named and brought into the light.

I know now that despite being deep in the study of God’s word, I had neglected to ask God what I was holding back. Self-reliance and thinking we are in control of anything is nothing but pride in disguise. It is dangerous. God was gracious to me by letting me experience the fear 2 years before I have to send our son to Kindergarten. Now I have time to learn to trust God all-the-more before that day. And as I gradually have to surrender my control of our son’s life as he grows up, I need to trust MORE and MORE in God’s control and sovereignty.

I still struggle with fear. As I’ve shared before, it rises often, and has surprised me time and time again this past year. In fact, I have struggled with fear this past year more than ever in my life. The situations I cannot control are not going anywhere and are increasing in frequency. They will continue without ceasing, until both of our children are adults and on their own.

But I refuse to give fear victory in my life. With every test of fear, with every prayer for peace and with every moment I surrender fear to God, the more powerful the light of Jesus shines and the less I dwell in the stifling darkness and oppression of fear. I am learning to turn to God rather than to allow rabbit trails of fearful daydreams. The greatest thing I have to report today is that I have consistently seen victory in the area of fear on a daily basis. It is not easy. Fear for me is an ongoing struggle but with daily struggle comes the opportunity for daily victory. And let me be clear – without the power of Jesus in my life, I am helpless against this fear. There is no victory without Him for me.

As I prepare for Easter this year, I look at Jesus’ victory over sin and death a little differently. Same Jesus. Same sacrifice. But I feel more victory in my life. I see how He has worked in me this past year to deepen my faith, to rely less on my own strength, and to strengthen and prepare me for new challenges. I have felt the peace and comfort that can only come from surrendering to His will and trusting that He will be with us. I know to my bones that no matter what I cannot control, He will still be God, He will still be good, and He IS faithful. I cannot hold onto anything too tight – even our children. I cling to the truth that they were HIS even before they were mine.  He loves them even more than I do.

This past year I have been given tangible evidence that He longs to carry our burdens, knowing I am ill-equipped to carry my own. He has shown me how thinking I don’t struggle with fear is an open door to let it consume me. I must be prepared and be willing to ask myself where I have not surrendered to God because I am controlling things and trusting myself instead of HIM. I find myself grateful for the struggle because the victory is so sweet. This fear is no joke. It rises up and it when it was exposed it felt like a wound ripped open that might never heal. But slowly, I’ve been equipped and althogh it rises up, the fear loses it’s power as I claim Jesus’ victory and promises in my life. I am grateful that instead of letting me dwell in fear, He redeems it and makes me stronger for the next time. At the cross, we become heirs to peace, and heirs to His victory.

“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 (NIV)

He is risen! But we must walk in faith to share in His victory and we must let Him be God.

May He bless you richly as you consider His sacrifice this holy week.

Happy Easter.

6 Truths For A Mama-Attitude Adjustment When Our Work Feels Unnoticed

Some jobs are never done. The laundry never ceases, meals do not make themselves and dishes, beds, and bathrooms will be used and require cleaning. And the toys…here is one of the rooms I cleaned and organized this morning. Don’ think it looks bad? This is only 10 minutes later and they’re off in another freshly cleaned room wreaking havoc in there.

attitude adjustment

My attitude varies. Many days, I enjoy the work and feel productive and fulfilled, even when my husband returns from work and the house is again in disarray, and the sink is again full of dishes.

Just what did we do today?

But more often than I’d like to admit, I feel self-pity; as if I were singled-out and sentenced to picking up toys and scrubbing toilets, again. Waking up to a pile of laundry to fold and more to be wash can be disheartening. Sometimes I desire recognition for the work that was done and unseen before the kids scattered every toy from the toy box, again. And some days, I feel the work is not worthwhile or of any lasting value.

But entertaining and dwelling in these selfish thoughts is both toxic, infectious and habit-forming. I no longer feel blessed, I feel controlled. When I could demonstrate good stewardship and a servant heart, I instead demonstrate how to sigh and be resentful while doing chores (no wonder our children struggle with this too!). Now, instead of serving my family and loving them, I’m looking at their dirty laundry, bed sheets and dishes as a burden. So wrong! These people I love (and their things) are not a burden!

This attitude is ungrateful…for our children and their playful hearts…for the blessing to stay home while my husband works equally as hard as I am (or harder)…for the washing machine and dryer and clean water available to me…for the carpet to vacuum, the floors to mop and the bathrooms to clean…for the abundant provision and blessing of God to our family.

Do you sometimes think your children need an attitude adjustment when they are begrudgingly doing chores, or complaining? I have told our kids to change their attitude many times. But we parents know all-too-well that this is no easy task. Once self-centered, negative, grumbling thoughts creep in…they are difficult to banish. When we have much to care for, we are blessed far more than we realize. But the mundane, repetitive nature of these daily tasks often leaves me short-sighted and unrateful.

I can admit that sometimes, this un-grateful mama needs a serious attitude adjustment.

I need to consider the truth of who we do this for, what it is we are doing, and why we are doing it. Then how we do it (our attitude) will follow suit. There is much to be grateful for today. This is the time to enjoy all of this. 

6 Truths For A  Mama-Attitude Adjustment When Our Work Feels Unnoticed

1. You Aren’t Singled Out

No matter what your job is, much of what is earnestly completed may go unnoticed. Unseen. Or must be repeated again and again. When I worked in the lab, the biohazard bins were filled, right after taking it out, and the samples for tomorrow came in even before we reported results from today. The same is true in corporate jobs; as one issue is resolved, two or three more come up. It may sometimes seem daunting, but in reality, is job-security.

As a mama at home, my children begin enjoying the room just cleaned, or drop crumbs on the floor before I’ve finished mopping the other end. Like everyone else, much of our work is behind-the-scenes, maintaining, cleaning, fixing, and living. In truth, I am no different than you, and we are no different than anyone else. Our work is no less recognized or unrecognized, even if it sometimes feels that way.

2. ‘Tis The Season

The chores of today will not always be. Welcome the season of life you’re in, and live IN it. Here and now.

Ask any mother of grown children – they know the truth and value of these busy days. They experienced children growing up and all the dishes, laundry, noise and chaos that came with it. They miss it. Caring for and raising children is a privilege. A time will come, with less mess, but also with fewer feet making noise and fewer mouths to feed. I, for one, am not ready for that. I like today. The future can’t be sped up or put off. Longing for a time with less mess is not just silly, it is a waste of the blessings I have now.

3. Gratitude Requires Practice

It is not easy to be grateful when scrubbing toilets after a potty-training toddler has left their mark. No, it’s downright hard. But, take time to practice. The more you do, the easier it will be to see things with eyes of gratitude instead of eyes of self-pity. Instead of seeing an unending pile of clothes, thank God for the people who wear them, and that your family is blessed to own such a large pile of laundry. When overwhelmed by the mountain of dishes, be grateful your family has food to eat, are healthy, and for the ability to prepare food in a clean kitchen. So what if you have to clean it? Instead of feeling resentment towards your spouse when they return from work not seeing what you did all day – recognize that you have no idea what mundane details and tasks they did all day either. Thank them for their hard work.

Wondering if I’m going to give thanks for those toilets? Sure am. It may be hard to see the rainbow here, but here goes – when tired of cleaning toilets that smell like the zoo, be glad you’re not cleaning an outhouse and have indoor plumbing. Furthermore, a toilet to clean and a toddler who is learning (and not wearing a diaper) are BOTH blessings worth my gratitude. Also recognize bleach for what it is – a gift.

4. Our Work Is Not Unnoticed

While the love of family can get us through many mundane tasks with a joyful attitude, we also need the hope of an eternal perspective. The Bible tells us that no matter what work we are doing, we do it for the Lord:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23 – 24 (NIV)

And, as Philippians 2:4 points out, sometimes I just need to and obey and do whatever it is without complaining or arguing. When the tasks seem daunting or we are tempted to complain or feel neglected, we must remember that God sees everything. He knows every single thing we do. And (gulp) He knows our attitude while we do it. Your work may feel unrecognized, unnoticed, or unimportant, but the God who created you and loves you, sees you. D you get that? He. Sees. YouThis is no small thing.

5. Our Attitudes Have Long-Term Consequences

Be forward-thinking as you consider your long-term desire for your children, and your spouse. How do you want to be remembered?

I won’t care in 20 years if my children remember that I cleaned their toilets, or if my husband knows just how many times I picked up Legos today, even though they are now on the floor. What I don’t want them to remember is how I begrudgingly cooked, cleaned, and complained. It won’t matter how good the meal was if they felt I was irritated making it for them. When I complain, it is memorable and infectious. They will learn that these tasks are worth complaining about, and they will not enjoy doing them either because I will have taught them not to. These things are not what I want to impart to them.

No, I am actually OK if they don’t remember me doing any of these things if they remember I served them willingly and lovingly. I will know that I served them regardless of their response. Instead, I will cling to hope that when I see the Lord, I will be recognized for service and obedience to HIM that perhaps no one else on earth will ever know about. Good enough for me.

6. The Work Is Important

Mundane tasks have to be done. We have to eat. We cannot (well, should not) live in filth. Good stewardship is a life-lesson that must be taught. Cleaning and cooking are hygiene and health issues with lasting value and consequences. I can degrade the thought of these things by telling myself it is unimportant work, but it is simply not true. It may not feel like it, but I am imparting life lessons to our children and this is a serious, and important job.

Finally, I am responsible for my own attitude, and I choose my words and actions. It’s time to own them. I decide whether I will approach my work with gratitude and joy or self-pity and disgust. If I didn’t have this work to do…it would mean I didn’t have a family to care for, a house to live in, a job to go to, or a Lord to serve. I would desire and long for these jobs if I no longer had them.

Today as I scrub toilets, mop, cook, and fold laundry, again, I will take time to thank the Lord for the little and big feet who wear these socks, for the country we live in and the clean water, appliances and electricity we enjoy, and for the food that makes the crumbs on my floor and dirties our dishes.

And I will relish the thought that as I choose to do these things joyfully, in service to my family, that the God I love sees me and my work, even if no one else does.

‘You Are My Sunshine’ Birthday – DIY ‘You Are My Sunshine’ Photo Birthday Banner

DIY You Are My Sunshine Photo Birthday Banner

Our daughter turned TWO on Sunday. She is fun, sweet and joyful – full of curiosity, and quirky humor. She is a delight to be around and we are blessed by her every single day.

Before she was born, I bought her a sign for her wall that said “You Are My Sunshine” for her bedroom wall. And it is so true! She brightens up every room, and every face in it.

Even though she’s only two, I wanted to honor her by creating a few decorations. If you know her, you’ll agree that ‘You Are My Sunshine’ is a fitting theme for the girl who truly is…our sunshine.

I am convinced that every child (and adult) needs is a birthday banner in their honor. It is a simple and inexpensive, yet personal touch for their special day. The couple’s shower banner, simple birthday banner and dinosaur party banners I’ve shared in the past have been created using patterned paper and stenciled letters.

But this time I wanted to do something a little different.

I am one of those annoying moms who is always chasing their children with the camera…so with the hundreds (no, let’s be honest, thousands) of photos from the past year, I had plenty to choose from to make a photo banner. I wanted to pick one picture for each month of the past year. This way we can display some of our favorite memories of Adelyn and highlight how she has changed as she grew from one to two.

The biggest problem? Picking just one photo per month!

Pictures were selected that captured various facial expressions, and could be printed in black and white. Photos were printed on white cardstock using our home printer (P.S. remember to select grayscale printing if you don’t want to drain every ink cartridge on your printer), then cut to 8×8″.

The words to “You Are My Sunshine” were typed out using PicMonkey online photo editor (easy to use and free) using ‘Animatic Small Caps’ font (one of my favorites). I took some liberty modifying the rhyme to suit a birthday theme (just imagine singing it to the melody of the song):

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy…when skies are gray. You’ll never know, child, how much we love you. Happy Birthday, to you, today.

You Are My Sunshine Banner Flags

The text was divided between 8 flags to hang between the photos and was also printed on white cardstock.

At first, the white flags and black and white photos were hung using plain clothes pins. Excited to see it, I was disappointed by it’s lackluster and drab appearance…not exactly what I was going for with a sunshine theme.

So, I decided to use some patterned scrapbook paper to brighten things up. First, I made patterned paper covered clothes pins. Since I was short on time, my helpful mom cut the flags and lined them wtih patterned paper. We used Scotch tape for a quick application. She then labeled each photo with the month the photo was taken in. The labels were printed on scrapbook paper and glued onto the photos using a glue stick.

Pretty soon, the once coloress banner looked bright and sunshine-worthy.

Labels

The labeled photos and modified flags were re-hung on twine using the newly decorated clothes pins. 3M Command hooks were used to suspend the banner across our kitchen.

There were two very excited children when they came down for breakfast on Wednesday. They noticed it immediately.

Giggles, and a half jumping, half running-in-place ‘happy dance‘ ensued (hysterical, and has been repeated several times now).

Many of our friends have said there is no need to decorate for a 2-year-old’s birthday. And, they’re right…she wouldn’t miss the decorations…But the joy on both our son’s and daughter’s faces was worth every effort and would have been missed by me.

Completed banner

Happy Birthday Adelyn Joy. We love you!