Thank you Jesus for underwear.

k2-_af40ba99-3968-49c0-882d-de6d85e9ae3d.v1Late last night little Clara woke up in an absolute panic, crying and screaming, I went into her room to find out what the problem was. Through sobs she told me that her underwear was on wrong (not the emergency situation that I was anticipating) so I told her we could fix it and everything would be alright. Upon inspection I discovered that there was nothing wrong with her underwear – all the legs were in the correct leg-holes and whatnot, so I told her it wasn’t on wrong, it looked just right – to which she sobbed, “ITS ON BACKWARDS MOMMY! I CANT SEE ELSA!!” (There’s a picture of Elsa from Frozen on the front – but since it was dark in her room she couldn’t see it.) Unfortunately it’s impossible to reason with a three-year old, let alone a frantic, distressed, half-asleep three-year old. So I told Clara we could pray about it.

I prayed for Clara, “Jesus, thank you for underwear. Thank you that Clara is getting so good at putting her underwear on right. Thank you that her underwear isn’t on backwards right now and that when the sun comes up she will be able to see the Elsa picture again. Please help her not be sad and help her go back to sleep so she can have a great day tomorrow. Amen”

Clara felt much better knowing that God cared about her underwear situation and fell right back to sleep.

I love that God cares for us so much that He want’s to hear us call out to Him for every need – even those that seem small and insignificant, and He wants us to THANK Him and have grateful hearts for ALL the gifts that He’s given… including underwear. For some reason I’m much better at spontaneously thanking God when I’m in “mom mode” and I want to show my kids that they can talk to Jesus whenever they want, about whatever they want, day or night.

Last night as I was sleepily trudging back to my bed after praying with Clara I realized how easy it’s been for me to outgrow my natural inclination to thank God and include him in the  craziness of my day-to-day routine. I want to be better at acknowledging God as the giver of every good gift and expressing appreciation to Him for those gifts.

I’ve been studying the book Choosing Gratitude but Nancy Leigh DeMoss with my SideBySide group here in Grand Rapids. Our group has been discussing how to work gratefulness into our lives everyday. Ephesians 5:20 tells us to give thanks to God for everything. EVERYTHING! Even the little things that we often overlook – and when it comes down to it, I really am grateful for underwear.

P.S. SideBySide has been an absolute gift from God to me in the past 4 years. If you know the wife of a medical or dental student, resident, fellow, or attending you should let them know there might be a group in their city! You can connect them with me and I’ll help them find a group or you can look on the CMDA website for more info.

Delay Saying Yes… and Learn to Say No

My friend Jennifer spoke some great words to our group of moms at SideBySide this morning. She talked to us about the importance of learning to say “no” to free up our calendars for the people and things that ultimately matter most. It was such a refreshing thought, that I asked Jennifer if I could borrow the book she was quoting so I could share some of this wisdom with you, dear blogosphere readers. I know a lot of you are moms, and I hope this post gives you a little sigh of relief today.

I cannot give you the formula for success,

but I can give you the formula for failure…

which is: Try to please everyone.

-Herbert Bayard Swope

Throughout my life I have been a “people pleaser”, meaning that when someone asked me to do something, I typically did it because I wanted their approval, I wanted them to like me and I wanted them to say nice things about me to other people. It’s an unfulfilling and frustrating way to live and I do not recommend it.

Now that I am old and wise (I’m going to be 33 you know…) I don’t care so much what people think of me. I’ve become more confident in myself and my ability to make good decisions on how I choose to live each day. As a wife and a mother, I cannot make 99.9% of my decisions based solely on myself, I have to think of Ryan and of my children and consider how each decision will affect our family as a whole.

This isn’t about choosing between right and wrong, but choosing to turn down “good” things in order to make time for the “best” things. Sometimes the best thing is just slowing down and spending an afternoon drawing with chalk on the driveway.

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I think for most of us, when someone asks us to do something we immediately say “yes” to their request. It’s instinctual, we like feeling needed, we are flattered to be asked, and we have forgotten that there is a difference between being asked and being called. In her book The Worn Out Woman Alice Gray suggests that if we can delay saying “yes” long enough to seriously seek God’s direction it may help us free up our daily schedules for the things that God wants us to be available for. Wouldn’t it be great to live with space for God to work in and through our lives?

If we can determine our goals for our families, that will help us be able to say no to things that do not push us closer to those goals. If we are clear on our priorities, we can more easily identify which things are in line with those and which things we simply say “no” to. For example, it’s nice to be invited, but I am not going to spend all Saturday morning at a birthday party for a kid in Ruby’s preschool class who we hardly know because my priority is that when Ryan is home, the girls and I get to spend quality time with him. I don’t have to explain all this to said preschool classmate’s mother in the RSVP… I just have to say “no”.

Saying “no” isn’t easy, so here are some tips from an anonymous author. I especially like the last one.

How to Say No

  • I’ll have to pass it up.
  • I’ve done it in the past. I’ll do it again in the future. But I can’t do it right now.
  • I’m sorry, but my schedule doesn’t permit me to take on any more obligations this week, this month, this year, this decade!
  • It was really kind of you to ask me, but I really must say no.
  • I’ve made a mistake. I shouldn’t have committed myself. I’m sorry, but I really must back out this time.
  • FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS: I cannot do this. I don’t have the desire, the time, the interest, or the energy. NO. Absolutely not!

All in all, we need to rest in the fact that for this short window, our number one ministry is motherhood. We need to recognize the value we are adding to our children and our families. We need to feel honored that God would give us the incredible responsibility of daily shaping the character and integrity of the little hearts of our children. These long days and short years are not easy, so I’m taking every bit of advice I can! Here’s to delaying saying “yes” and learning to say “no” more often!

Love God, love your husband, love your kids. Keep it simple and chill out.

Some of my mom friends and I have been conversing about our calling as mothers – and whether we should feel bad about not really “doing” enough “christian type-stuff” in addition to our duties as wives and mothers. Should we feel bad that we haven’t been taking our kids to volunteer at the food pantry each week? Should we feel guilty that we turned down that offer to help more regularly in that ministry at church? Is it bad that the daily task of mothering is pushing us to capacity and all we want to do is go to bed at 8pm when our kids do? Most importantly, as a mom, am I really making a difference for Christ? How do I know I am fulfilling the mission that God has given to me? I have gifts and talents that I used before I had kids… how can I use my gifts now? Is there more I could be doing to further the Kingdom? Am I doing enough? What does the bible have to say about motherhood?

Maybe you’re a mom and you’ve had some of the same questions run though your mind. Maybe we all need to help one other step back, take a deep breath, and regain biblical perspective in our lives.

For me, to regain perspective (which is so easily lost amidst the piles of laundry, dirty diapers, whining, messes, etc.) these are my thoughts:

This is a season of years, months, days, hours, minutes filled to the brim with raising the children that God has gifted me with. Right here, within the walls of this humble house I have the incredible responsibility to train up my daughters into the women God created them to be. Right here, in a city that doesn’t feel quite like home, I am called to be a light for Christ to my little family on a daily basis, in hopes that they will be little lights for Christ wherever they go, for the rest of their lives as well. I believe their lights will shine farther than mine ever could alone – so I feel peace in this season… and I’ve been told that little people grow up way too fast, so I know this truly is a short season.

Do I wish I could hop on a flight to India to spend a few weeks serving with Raj and his team reaching hundreds and thousands for Christ? Yes! I would love that so much – but in this season, my calling is right here. My job description is to love God, love Ryan, love my kids. Keep it simple and chill out… knowing that maybe in another season, later in my life Lord willing I’ll be on that plane to India, or serving in some great ministry, or helping more in my church. All of those good things do not outweigh the GREAT thing that is my current job description as a mother to young children. This whole article is SO ENCOURAGING! I’m going to share an excerpt below. It’s based on Titus 2:3-5. If you are a mom, know a mom, have a mom or are someday going to be a mom this is for you.

Moms, Jesus wants you to chill out about being a mom. You don’t have to make homemade bread to be a faithful mom. You don’t have to sew you children’s clothing to be a faithful mom. You don’t have to coupon, buy all organic produce, keep a journal, scrapbook, plant a garden, or make your own babyfood to be a faithful mom. There’s nothing wrong with these things, but they’re also not in your biblical job description.

Your job description is as follows:

  • Love God. This simply means finding some time during the day to meet with the Lord. It doesn’t have to be before all the kids are awake. It doesn’t have to be in the pre-dawn stillness. Your job is to love God. How you make that happen can look a million different ways.
  • Love your husband (unless you’re a single mom, of course). Your second job is to love and serve your husband. Husbands are to do the same for their wives, but that’s for a different post. If your husband really likes homemade bread, maybe you could make it for him. But don’t make homemade bread simply because you see other moms posting pictures of their homemade bread on Facebook.
  • Love your kids. Your calling as mom is to love your kids and teach them to follow the Lord. They don’t need to know Latin by age six. If they do, more power to you. But that’s a bonus, not part of the job description. Your job is simply to love your kids with all your exhausted heart, and to teach them to love Jesus. That’s a high calling. Don’t go throwing in other, extraneous things to make your life more difficult. If you want to teach your kids to sew, great. But don’t be crushed by guilt if your kids aren’t making stylish blazers by the age of 10.

Moms, Jesus wants you to rest in him. He wants you to chill out. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. Don’t compare yourself to other moms. Don’t try to be something God hasn’t called you to be. If the mom blogs are making you feel guilty, stop reading them. Be faithful to what he has truly called you to do, and know that he is pleased with you. When your kids are resting, don’t feel guilty about watching an episode of “Lost”, or whatever your favorite show may happen to be.

Love God, love your husband, love your kids. Keep it simple and chill out.