I didn’t know what to do with myself. For a few years now I have been very purposefully taking Sundays “off”. Of course, for a young mom, this is still an eventful day. I have little girls to tickle and feed, a husband to chat with, friends to call…yeah, it is just a different kind of demanding. I am busy, but I switch my focus from chores, writing, and child care to quality time with family and worshiping God.
This weekend my mother-in-law borrowed the girls so I would be able to care for the farm while Jovani was on a trip. As you can imagine, I packed Saturday with those jobs I can’t do with girls in the house. I kept a fast pace and felt great about what I accomplished. But Sunday…
Sunday felt eerie. What was I to do with all that quiet? After farm chores and church I felt like a little boat in the middle of a massive lake, dead in the water. I didn’t like the feeling.
I recently finished an incredible book, Your Best Life in Jesus' Easy Yoke. In one of the chapters, the author discusses people who are addicted to adrenaline. The description of such a person sounded like a workaholic. Now, I don’t know about you, but to me a workaholic is that man or woman who is never home, obsessed with their job, and gives their family a low priority in their lives.
But, as I read the chapter on Adrenaline Addiction in Bill Gaultiere’s book, I was shocked. How he described the person obsessed with being productive to the point where they panic if they are not accomplishing something, that was ME.
I think I pouted and argued with myself about this for a good two weeks before I simply accepted the reality: I am a workaholic.
I am a workaholic who prioritizes her family and is almost always home, but that doesn’t mean it is healthy. In fact, it is very unhealthy, because I struggle against the idea of rest. I struggle against giving God His agenda in my life. God doesn’t want us to always be going. He also wants us to spend a lot of time stopping, listening, and breathing. When I was honest with myself, I realized that I have a tough time trusting God. It seems easier to trust in my own power and strength. What if His will means I don’t get to accomplish my goals and dreams? What if the house is a mess? What if the laundry hasn’t been folded?
Bill Gaultiere’s book, Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke, encourages you to constantly live in the rest that Jesus offers. We shouldn’t be striving and struggling and worrying. If we truly live and act in the belief that God wants the best for us and will guide us in all things if we let Him, then life stops feeling like a struggle.
We also must give up that addiction to adrenaline. If we are resting in Jesus’ love, we won’t be getting our adrenaline fix. Like all addictions, it is hard to give these things up.
The road to healing will be long for me, but I am learning. Since reading Bill’s book, I have started to do things that God has asked of me for a long time such as letting the house get cluttered on the days when the girls are needing extra love and attention. Leaving dishes in the sink and using my last hour of quiet for devotional time. Most of all, I don’t write or work on my ministry if I feel spiritually disconnected or disconcerted. I am learning to trust God when He tells me I need to prioritize something that goes against my own thoughts or will for the day. I am learning to stop, breath, and let the day come instead of me attacking the day with my own agenda.
You might have an addiction to adrenaline that turns you into a workaholic as well. Take a moment and visit soulshepparding.org and take the Adrenaline Addiction test.
If your results are positive, stay tuned. We will be discussing this topic further in my next Monday blog post.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Do you see other qualities of yourself that point towards being addicted to work?
Devotion: n. love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person or activity (from The Oxford Dictionary)
What does your devotional time with God look like?
God wants to be as much a part of our life as He can be. He wants to find Himself on our minds and in our hearts from the moment we wake to the instant our eyes close in sleep. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to profoundly dedicate time to and with Him.
Lucky for us, that list is very long. Below are my favorites.
-Read your Bible. Study. Take notes. Stop and pray as you feel moved to do so. Talk to God about what you learn in his word.
-Read a daily devotional. Let the beautiful words of Billy Graham or the encouragement of Joyce Meyer guide your time with God.
-Pray. Have a deep, quiet, intimate conversation with our Heavenly Father.
-Write down your prayers in a prayer journal.
-Sing or listen to praise music. Let the soothing rythms and uplifting lyrics open your heart to God.
-Study with a group. Find fellowship with like-minded men and women. Learn with them and through them.
-Draw, doodle, illustrate Bible verses or prayer journals.
I was taught that devotional time should be a quiet, private affair. I learned that it was about silent study of the Bible and deep prayer time. To this day, I still find these two things to be helpful in learning God's word and connecting to Him. But as I hear how others spend devotional time with God I realize that it can be so much more. I love shaking things up when it comes to my daily devotions with God. I don't like to be caught in a rut in which I feel less alive during those minutes with God than I do the rest of the day.
As a mom, I admit to having to fight for my devotional time. My personality thrives on a quiet time with my Heavenly Father where I focus only on Him, but it is hard to fit a good block of that as I care for my husband and family. I’ve learned to get creative and self-disciplined. However, just as this season of my life is crammed with activity and demanding on my time and heart, it is for this reason that I need to grow with God. I need to walk with Him and learn His ways.
For most of us, the reason we haven’t found a way to do daily devotions is time. We feel we do not have the time for it. But we do. The Bible says that where our treasure is, there is also our hearts (Matthew 6:21). The things we treasure we find the resources to care for them, invest in them, and adore them. All of us can look back on our typical day and see many things we invest our resources in that do not include God.
So, where are our hearts?
My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways
How do you benefit from devotional time with God? Have you found a way to daily come into His presence?
“God, please bless me, greatly.”
All my prayers begin like this now. A dear friend leant me a book The Prayer of Jabez and it has completely changed how I pray.
Honestly, I’ve always been so hesitant to ask God for some things. I feel that I am not worthy or that some things are selfish or not in keeping with God’s will. So I just won’t mention them. Being bold with how I talk to God wasn’t in my make up.
And then I read this little book and changed my mind.
About seven days after I started praying Jabez’ prayer, I realized that I wanted to ask God for specific blessings for my girls. That morning, curled into a ball on the couch, I asked God, “Let Adela excel in her school work and be wise in her choice of friends. And, please let Micaela learn one great thing today.”
As soon as I said it, I felt an amazing stirring, like my soul was sighing. I don’t know if I was praying in God’s will or simply pleasing God with my heartfelt honesty, but it was a beautiful feeling.
Micaela did several new, little things that day such as movements to songs and isolating the movement of her index fingers. Adela came home and read her weekly reader book. Nothing crazy miraculous, but my heart would not let me forget that feeling I felt when I had asked bold things of my Heavenly Father.
Something in my heart has changed. Deep down I believe in the power and deep love of God and that He has spread it over my life. I am not waiting for a trickle of blessings to descend from Heaven but believe that His Miraculous grace surrounds all of me.
And boldness comes easy.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
Have you found you boldness when praying to God?
Once upon a time, I had a hard heart towards parents with different children. From children who threw tantrums to those with learning disorders, my mind turned judgmental towards their parents. Though I never spoke these horrible thoughts aloud, I am ashamed that they lived in me.
God totally weeded this out of my mind and heart when Micaela joined our family. It is one of countless ways I have seen God use the trials that come with being a mother of a Special Needs child.
Our trials can be dark and desperate times in our lives, but we have an opportunity to use them in the best possible way. When we ask God to open our hearts and minds to what we are living through, we will find that he is using our challenges to bring about beautiful changes in our world.
As we go through these hard seasons or as we evaluate them from the other side, we need to be intentional about using them to grow.
Trials help us:
I smiled as I wrote this list. I don’t mean to make our trials sound desirable, but I wanted to bring a little hope to one of you today. I remember the moments where I sat viewing the desperate chaos of my world and wondering if it would ever be okay again. And it was okay, it was better than okay.
We all need to let ourselves be molded by The Potter if we are ever going to become His work of art.
Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune as the fate of those whose feet are slipping.
What have you learned through your own life struggles?
That tiny pouting lip almost undid me. Micaela looked so confused. So upset. The technician silently plastered the glue and electrodes, looked at his monitor, and re-positioned the wires connected amidst her mop of curls. Micaela sobbed. My arms shook from keeping her in place. I turned my head to cough.
We were both miserable.
The technician finally finished placing the wires. He wrapped her little head in gauze and said, “Okay. We’ll run the test for 45-60 minutes. Remember, we need her to sleep for at least 15. I’ll observe from across the hall and then come in to do the flashing lights at the end.” He started to leave and then turned back. “Oh, and don’t forget, she can’t move. Keep her as still as possible.”
And, with a flip of the light switch, he was gone. In the dim light Micaela continued to squirm and scream. Oh, God, I prayed, how is she possibly going to sleep after this?
I made comforting shushing noises, and prayed. Calm and peace entered me. It would be okay. I just needed to keep her in place. I put warm hands on her shoulders. The minutes ticked by. Every time Micaela seemed to settle, she would start up a fight again. Half an hour felt like an eternity and we were no closer to settling into unconsciousness.
I started to panic. We needed her to sleep. We needed answers. We waited four months for this EEG. God, please. Please help us. In my mind, I pictured all the friends and family that were praying for us, right then, right at that moment. It reminded me that God was there in the room with us and it was all in His hands. The panic melted away into calm once again.
Micaela’s eyelids flickered. Her body relaxed. Her breathing slowed. She was asleep.
I looked at the clock. We had exactly 15 minutes left.
By the time the EEG finished my arms were shaking from exhaustion but my heart was elated. God heard our prayers. And, He was working to our success before we even made it to the exam room. Micaela arrived sleep-deprived because I wasn’t able to get on the road to Albuquerque until late the night before. And then, at exactly 4am that morning, a framed painting fell off the wall breaking with a crash and waking Micaela. Funny, I was so sick that night that I wasn’t going to wake her up even though the EEG instructions said to wake her at 4am. God made sure things happened like they were supposed to.
And, I know, I would not have had the strength or peace to keep Micaela restrained for so long if God were not keeping me close to Him.
Sometimes miracles are big, huge, events, but other times, the miracles are the incredible series of little pieces falling in place to answer a prayer. That was us this week.
Because Micaela fell asleep, her neurologist found the part of the brain that has been causing the seizures and the information will help us establish a treatment plan for her. I am so thankful.
Thank you for those prayers. Sometimes we pray for others, not knowing if those words are heard, but I want you to know that God heard you and your acts of love helped us through a very difficult time.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Have you ever witnessed something miraculous in answer to a prayer for someone else?
Taking care of yourself as a mother isn’t complicated, but it does take dedication. Our hearts want us to focus only on others. Our minds worry that there isn’t enough time. Our bodies feel too tired to consider yet another task.
Remember two things: 1. You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself. 2. You are a beautiful child of God who deserves to be cared for, too.
So, next time you are feeling worn, look at this infographic and consider how you could be treating yourself to some better self-care.
A wife of noble character who can find?
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Women are naturally caretakers for those around us, but we can get so caught up in our role that we begin to develop habits that make us both unhealthy and unhappy. Look at the list below and identify any that you are particularly guilty of.
1) Frequent sleep deprivation
When pushed to get something done, using our sleep time seems like an easy answer. Or, when we are needing time to relax we stay up late, knowing we will pay for it later. The problem is, everything starts to crack when we don’t get enough sleep. Studies shows that sleep deprivation makes us feel angry and frustrated. It makes it difficult for us to focus, retain memories, and even engage socially with friends. Tomorrow isn’t going to be better because you watched one more episode of your favorite show or got that last load of laundry put away. Tomorrow has its best shot at being beautiful if you begin with a well-rested body, heart, and head.
2) Giving no priority to our diet and exercise
We skip breakfast, eat what our toddlers eat, guzzle caffeine, forget where we put our water bottle, and decide there are more important things than taking a walk. Woah there, sister. That body that you depend on to change diapers and get the grocery shopping needs some respect. It will start to tell on you if you ignore the needs of your body for too long.
3) Quality time with Spouse and Children, Friends and family
Quality time means doing a single activity with your loved ones and enjoying those moments with them. It is so easy to get in a rut of preparing dinner and washing laundry for our family that we forget to stop and simply enjoy them.
4) Multitasking—during quality time, quiet time, any time
Multitasking is one big fat lie. The reality is we only attend well to one thing at a time. So, if we multitask our focus and quality of work plummets. Plus, it starts to make us feel insane. Don’t worry, sweetheart, God has your back. Take a deep breath and give yourself license to do one thing at a time.
5) Quiet time.
Introverted? Extroverted? It doesn’t matter. That quiet time, alone with our own thoughts and God, helps us reboot. It gives us room to think about what we are doing, how we are feeling, and what is important. Without this, the world can either morph into exhausting auto-pilot, or spin out of control into chaos.
6) Negative Thoughts
If your life is anything like mine, we are already pretty low on head space. There is too much to remember and too much to do. Worse, we are low on heart-space too. Our role puts us in situations where we must help others deal with emotional crisis. So, those negative thoughts about our life and self must be cut out. If your head and heart were a refrigerator, would you stash away a bag of moldy potatoes inside. No way! Learn new ways of thinking so your heart and mind are filled with good and healthy things.
7) Saying No to Help
I’m so guilty of this one. For years I tried to handle my kids and family with little-to-no outside assistance. I didn’t want to burden anyone nor did I want to admit that I was not capable of doing it on my own. However, about a year ago I had an epiphany: God did not design child-raising to be a lonely job. In the age of Abraham and Sarah, raising a child and caring for the sick was done with an entire group of family and workers alongside you. This idea that we must handle it on our own isn’t Biblical, it is a concept our society has created.
Stay tuned. Our next blog post is all about how you can turn these habits around and become your own best advocate for health and happiness and become an even better wife, mother, friend, spouse, or caretaker.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Can you think of some other ways you undermine your health and happiness?
I was fairly certain the roof shuddered as the last syllable came from my mouth. It had been a bad day. No, it had been a horrible one. Both the girls were whiny, defiant, and inconsolable messes. To top it off, since we had spent much of the week visiting with family, I had a list of chores that could have wrapped around planet earth.
By the end of the day my patience was all gone. It was bath time. Adela and Micaela seemed angry about everything—water temperature, bath bubbles, toys, hair washing, etc. As their complaints resounded on the bathroom walls, my frustration built.
And then, I exploded.
I can’t remember what I said, but I know exactly what their faces looked like. I was very ugly with them. As I finished bathing them in near silence, I felt so ashamed. What had I done?
Okay, I could just say that I’m human. I know. But I want more for my daughters than a mom who is hurtful with her words whenever she is feeling frazzled. Thankfully, I found some priceless Biblical solutions to put in place the next time I am starting to feel too close to the edge. If you are struggling with this too, perhaps you’ll find these tips helpful.
I thank God that His mercies are new every morning and that my girls are small and won’t remember everything about that day. Little by little we are all being changed into better children of God. Hallelujah! It will take time for me to learn self-control and safe guard my words.
I will just have to trust God to grow me in this.
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
Do you struggle with watching over the words you say as you interact with others?
I was “that” kid. I loved school. I loved having the right answer and waving my hand for the teacher. I loved my perfect handwriting and A+ finished assignments. Later in life, the decision to earn my teaching degree was an easy one.
A decade later I became a mom. I stared down into the sleepy eyes of my newborn daughter and imagined how bright and brilliant she would be. God had some lessons to teach me about that.
For the past two years, Adela has not been even slightly interested in academics. She stomps around outside instead of drawing on paper. She colors to get it done instead of make it pretty. She wants nothing to do with flash cards and letter-tracing and counting.
Frustrated, I told my best friend with three young boys how worried I was. Surely there must be something wrong with my parenting techniques. My friend’s five-year-old could already identify letter sounds while my little Adela wouldn’t even write her name.
Expecting my friend to share secret learning activities with me, I was surprised when she laughed and said, “Lora, relax. There is a lot more to life than school.”
My friend said she felt lucky that her three boys were interested and quick to earn academic subjects, but that wasn’t going to help them become happy and healthy adults. Our society places so much weight on academic success, but the reality is that we need to know how to have friends and a relationship with God to find true joy.
“Look at Adela,” she said. “She is sweet, sensitive to the needs of others, and she is happy. She plays well with others and works hard to do her chores at home. Who knows what plans God has for her? I don’t think we get to pick that as parents. We are just here to the best job we can in helping them fill God’s purpose for their lives. That might involve a doctorate from a prestigious college or it might mean a GED and an ability to be loving wife and mother. Are you ashamed of just being a stay-at-home mom?”
My eyes widened. “No. I love it. I don’t even miss teaching.”
She smiled. “See?”
I did see.
From then on, with a lot of prayer, I’ve learned to release my child’s life into God’s plan and purpose. I help Adela work on those academic things, but I appreciate my daughter’s unique gifts. She is brilliant. She is bright. She sees the world with eyes that are not mine and loves with a heart that I could never have.
God made my little Adela. I will honor His creation and pray that as I mother her I prepare her for His loving plans.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Hope this article encourages you today! Have a wonderful school year!
With Micaela’s slow development I have started to forget that these preschool days won’t be here forever. Adela has already begun to metamorphose into that next stage and these last few months have been a wakeup call to enjoy that little girl while I can. This revelation could not have come at a better time, for as Adela transitions into big girl life, Micaela has entrenched herself in some exhausting attributes of two and three-year-old.
So, lets take a deep breath, and focus on the good. And hey, if you are one of my readers that don’t have little ones at home, memorize this little list so the next time you see one of us young mothers struggling you can give us a big hug and point out something precious about this season we are in.
1. Unlimited hugs and cuddles. A few months ago Adela awoke and didn’t want a good morning hug. She said she didn’t need one. End of story. Ugh! I didn’t realize how special it was to me until she didn’t want it anymore. Now, on the morning she asks for a hug I soak it up. I soak up holding my girls, hugging my girls, cuddling on the couch, etc. It won’t last forever.
2. Still working on their emotional foundation. This means they are learning how to handle disappointments, hurts, surprise, love, etc. We have an opportunity to model for them how we react to hardships and instill habits that will last a lifetime. We still have the ability to positively influence life-long emotional habits.
3. I'm still funny. I can make a silly noise or dance like a crazy woman and the girls giggle uncontrollably. It is too easy to get a smile and chuckle out of these little ones. However, before we know it, that sense of humor is going to mature and become sophisticated. You can bet that mommy’s silly face won’t cut it anymore.
4. Being needed. Right now the thought of not being needed sounds like heaven on earth. Can you imagine an existence where you don’t have to help someone get dressed, cut their food, and strap them into car seats? But, we are constantly reminded that we have worth, value, and are needed. It is something we can have pride in.
5. Loving spending time with you. Right now, with Micaela, it doesn’t matter what I offer to do with her, she is excited that I am sitting down and hanging out with her. Adela, however, usually has a clear idea of what she wants to do or she doesn’t want her mommy to play with her. Some day there might be a short list of the things we enjoy doing together so I’ll savor these times.
Being a mother to a preschooler is one of the most trying seasons of our lives. We have to be “on our toes” emotionally, mentally, and physically 24/7. But, God made sure that there was a beautiful sweetness of this time that we could draw on to keep us going. I hope it uplifts you and strengthens you today.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
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