7 Prayers of a Joyfully Exhausted Momma: Day 7 – Legacy of Love

7 Prayers of a Joyfully Exhausted Momma: Day 7 – Legacy of Love

Day 7 – Legacy of Love

If we’re going to pass anything along to our children, let’s give them a legacy of love. All of our previous prayers help build exactly that. Our actions and words are incredibly powerful. But our prayers will transform their lives.

Let’s create a home of love—love for Jesus, for each other and for others. I want my kids to always feel comfortable walking through these doors and sprawling on the sofa, even when they’re grown. While they’re little, I want our home to be a place of loving security and fun. As they get older, I want them to know that they will always belong here, and and that their hearts will always be safe here. I want them to feel validated, heard and understood. I desperately desire to keep open communication with them through thick and thin. I want them to know, that I am always, always on their team.

You are doing an incredible job! You are making a difference, even when you feel like what you’re doing is unimportant or overlooked. I see you, momma. We’re in this thing together. And remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup, so fill your own heart too.

Jesus, 

Help us to be mommas of love. Pierce the deepest parts of our hearts so that every area is transformed by the power of Your love. Show us how to be more like You, because You are the only perfect love. May we pass a legacy of love to our children, and may they always know my love for them…and above all, YOUR love for them! Thank you for the sweet little hearts in my care. In Your name, Amen!

We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. Psalm 78:4

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:5-7

7 Prayers of a Joyfully Exhausted Momma: Day 6 – Be Present

7 Prayers of a Joyfully Exhausted Momma: Day 6 – Be Present

 

 

Day 6 – Be Present

As mommas, we are constantly pulled in different directions, with a thousand things vying for our attention—daily routine, housework, errands, social media, relationships, work, the news. None of those things are bad, but they do use our time and energy. They push aside things that we should make room for. They distract us from the things we should remain focused on. Have you heard the expression, “The days are long, but the years are short?” That’s not to say that we absolutely-totally-and-completely love every moment of every day. (I mean, have you ever experienced a Level 10 toddler meltdown at Target? Yeah, not enjoyable.) But I do desire to be fully present in their childhood. I want to be able to absorb the moments throughout our days, even if they feel mundane or ordinary. We can be tired and worn out (and even frustrated) and still be present. We can carve out quality time to spend with our kids one-on-one. We can make room for unplanned adventures to the park. We can put our phones down while they’re talking to us, or better yet, even when they’re not…and just be with them. Those plump, food covered, little faces are worth it. 

Jesus,

I pray You would help me be more present with my kids. I ask that You would reveal ways that I can show them I genuinely care, and that I truly love spending time with them. And on the hard days, instead of feeling like a failure, I ask that You help us to pull together and work through those days together. May they always know that I’m available to them, whether they’re dealing with a big problem, or simply want to talk. Please give me the wisdom to cut back the things that are stealing my time and energy, and dive more into time with You and my kids’ childhoods. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 

7 Prayers of a Joyfully Exhausted Momma: Day 5 – Compassion

7 Prayers of a Joyfully Exhausted Momma: Day 5 – Compassion

Day 5 – Compassion

I think we would agree that our culture emphasizes the value of being important, gaining power, and getting ahead in life—even if that means using other people, or overlooking them entirely. I want my kids to be different. I want their hearts to be compassionate and tender. I want them to love the lonely, and show compassion to the outsider. 

When Jesus occupied our earth, he didn’t spend his time inside palaces, building a rapport with the “important” or elite. He walked dusty roads that led to dilapidated homes that sheltered marginalized people. He showed compassion to those who society wanted to forget. He also saw through lavish lifestyles and looked directly at people’s lacking hearts. He showed compassion to every single person he came into contact with—no matter what their status in life was. And that is how I pray my kids live. 

Dear Jesus,

You are a compassionate God. You enter into our brokenness and don’t shy away from our pain or difficulties. Please soften my kids’ hearts to be compassionate like Yours. May they always view people as valued and loved. When they have the opportunity to show compassion to someone, I ask that you open the eyes of their hearts to recognize it and take action—even when it’s not the easy thing to do. Mold their hearts into the shape of Yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:127 

7 Prayers of a Joyfully Exhausted Momma: Day 4 – Unwavering Faith

7 Prayers of a Joyfully Exhausted Momma: Day 4 – Unwavering Faith

 

Day 4 – Unwavering Faith

We will do anything for our children, won’t we? Even the quietest momma has the potential to become an angry momma bear when the situation arises. When they’re babies, we childproof our homes to keep them physically safe. As they get a little older, we can try to bubblewrap them (Not literally, of course. That would be weird. Hilarious, but weird), but we know we can’t keep them from scraping their knees, or running into walls, or breaking bones. Our desire to keep them safe goes deeper than worrying about scraped and bruised knees. One day, our little ones will walk out into the world. They will go off to school, college, get their own apartment, move across the country…or even across the world. We won’t always know exactly where they’re at or be able to guard over them. If you’re like me, even the idea of them experiencing heartbreak, or trials, or pain, or devastation, rips my heart out. But the beauty of Jesus is that He will always see them, know exactly where they’re at, be in every detail of every situation in their lives…and He cares for and loves them so much that He died for them. We may wish we could absorb pain for our kids, but Jesus actually did. That doesn’t mean they’ll experience a pain-free life, but it does mean that they will have the greatest Comforter and Protector by their sides.

When trials come, when heartbreak happens, when sadness and grief enters into my children’s lives (and all of that will happen), I want them to be able to navigate through it with Jesus. I desperately desire for their faith be anchored so deeply inside of their hearts, that leaning into Jesus comes as naturally as breathing. We can’t create faith for them. We can’t make them trust Jesus. But we can do 3 things. And these things will change everything:

  • Model unwavering (not perfect) faith in our own lives
  • Teach them Scripture
  • Pray, pray, pray

Merciful God,

I know You love my kids more than my own human heart can. Jesus, pursue them. Grab a hold of their hearts and strengthen their faith. May my own faith and relationship with You be authentic and real, and pour over into the lives of my children. Holy Spirit, show me specific ways to nurture their faith and continually point their hearts to You. I ask that You cover them, go before them, and show them Your love in tangible ways. Even while they are very young, speak to them. Build their faith, Lord, so that they never let go of You. Instead of using all my energy worrying, remind me that You have secured them. Instead of viewing my kids as something to keep safe, help me to see them as arrows to be released into the world. Give me wisdom on how to parent them in this way. In Your name, Amen.

“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

7 Prayers of a Joyfully Exhausted Momma: Day 2 – A Love for Jesus

7 Prayers of a Joyfully Exhausted Momma: Day 2 – A Love for Jesus

Our world holds a fluid definition of love. It’s constantly shifting, changed by circumstances, and dependent on a feeling. In a world that displays a thousands examples of what love isn’t, we fiercely desire for our children to know the One who is Love. We want them to love Jesus with every fiber of their being—to hold tightly to eternal things, loosely handle temporary things, and to have the discernment to know the difference. We want their love for Jesus to be their anchor so that when the waves come, they remain steady. Even greater than our own desire for our children to know Jesus, is Jesus’ desire for our kids to know Him! His eternal love for them far exceeds our love for them! Pretty incredible, isn’t it? I can’t imagine a love for my babies that is fiercer than my own. And yet, the love of God is deeper, stronger, fuller. It stretches before creation and will extend unchanged through eternity. He is madly in love with them. He died for them. He will pursue them.

Jesus,

Help me instill a love for You inside my children’s hearts. Help me to model a passion for You. And when I mess up, help me to be an example of the power of your forgiveness and grace. May my good days and my bad days reflect Your love for them. Show me ways to nurture and encourage their relationships with You, without trying to control or perfect it. May my words and actions help build a foundation that only You can build upon. Thank you for loving my children even more than I do. In Your name, Amen.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. Matthew 22:37-38

7 Prayers of a Joyfully Exhausted Momma: Day 1 – Sibling Bonds

7 Prayers of a Joyfully Exhausted Momma: Day 1 – Sibling Bonds

Day 1 – Sibling Bonds

The bond between siblings is a powerful one. Oh sure, there are wrestling matches on the sofa, and arguments over whose turn it is to use the coveted blue sippy cup…and attempts to duct tape your sister to the wall to see if it actually works (or so I’ve heard.)  But beneath the healthy quarrels and natural arguments, there’s an intertwining of heartstrings—a deepness that only siblings share. Some days that intertwining may seem tight. Some days it may seem loose. Other days it may seem completely undone. But despite whether or not our kids “get along” everyday, we want that bond and connection to put down deep roots. We want our kids to grow into adults that love, respect, encourage and protect one another. We want kids that are always on the same team—Team Family.

Dear Jesus,

You are a God who ties hearts together and strengthens relationships. I pray that my children’s love for one another would continue to mature as the years go on; that they would be able to rely on, confide in and encourage one another like only a sibling can. No matter how different their personalities are, Jesus, I pray that their love and bond always draws them closer to You and to each other. Give me wisdom as a momma on how to nurture these bonds and create a tight-knit home. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:2-3

When New Becomes the Normal

When New Becomes the Normal

mom-love

This particular feeling of transition is familiar to me. The waiting game. The anticipation. The dreaming and preparing and eagerness and anxiety. The constantly being on edge, while trying to distract myself and not think about how I’m constantly on edge. It’s e x h a u s t i n g .

Oh yes, I know this feeling well. It’s a mixture of heartache as well as over-the-moon excitement. A haze of surrealness that we are in the last days of being a household of 4—transitioning to a household of 5.

I felt this right before each of my daughters were born too—this strange place of savoring every moment of how life currently is while impatiently awaiting what will become our family’s new normal.

I can’t remember life before my youngest daughter. It is like she has always been here. And I surely can’t remember life before my oldest daughter. I am convinced life started the day she born and it is the life that I have always wanted to live.

However, these were not my sentiments right before they were each born. During the days leading up to their births it was more of an, “OH. MAN. How the heck am I going to do this? I barely have my act together right now. Like, barely. And I’m supposed to add another human life into the mix!? This is not going to be pretty.”

But sure enough, after a little bit of time (and tears and small victories and slowly conquering the learning curve) I moved from the scary newness to a more confident rhythm of life. Trust me, we still had those days. We still have those days. I don’t think the frequency decreased. I think maybe I just figured out how to handle them better. I’m not sure. Either way, I’ll take it.

And soon…it was normal. Life with a baby was normal. Then life with 2 kids was normal. And now, with faith that that truth will continue, I know life with 3 kids will become my new normal. And eventually, the details of life before our son will become foggy. Because he will be the perfect puzzle piece that our family was missing.

As I was drying my girls’ hair this morning, (there really is nothing like the smell of fresh babies right out of the bath) one was swaying back and forth singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star at the top of her lungs—the other one was playing a music game on my phone. And as I ran my fingers through their hair, I held my breath a little. My lungs captured that air so very tightly. And I didn’t want to exhale. Because I loved that moment. And I love our family dynamic right now. I love my full days with my 2 little best friends. And even though those full days can be hard and wearing full days, I love them just the same.

But eventually I had to let out that precious breath and when it did my heart exploded with these words…

You are losing nothing and gaining so much. The joy of life is going about to be multiplied. Life will look different, but it will be better.

I am settled into that place—that place of absorbing the right-now as well as the soon-will-be. And I am thankful for both, because both make me a mom.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:22-24

Seasons of Savoring and Suffering

Seasons of Savoring and Suffering

dirt and grass

Here’s some honesty for you: A few months ago I lost my makeup bag. Not misplaced it. Not set it down somewhere I don’t usually keep it. I straight up lost it. I couldn’t for the life of me remember when I had seen it last (meaning I couldn’t remember when I had actually put makeup on last.)

I sometimes very often find myself standing in the middle of my kitchen just staring at the overflowing sink full of dirty dishes and wonder, How? How can 4 people make all these overnight? And how in the world are there 47 dirty sippy cups in here!? We don’t even own 47 sips cups, yet here they are.

And my bedroom almost always has at least one pile of laundry in it that’s just begging to be folded and put away. My reaction to its pleas are always the same. I kick it out of the way to show it who’s boss and sternly remind it that it’s lucky it even got washed.

Ok, ok. My examples of missing makeup bags and condescending laundry piles may not totally resonate with you, but hey, I’m a mom to 2 littles (and one on the way.) So my makeup-less days really are filled with wiping, scrubbing, changing and washing. And an occasional, “Spit that out of your mouth!

But I’m not just talking about housework or mommyhood. This happens to me as a wife. And a friend. And a woman. And a human being in general.

I feel like I’m constantly moving—yet not going anywhere. Like I’ll be stuck in a certain place with a certain routine forever.

My days become this constant, repetitive spinning cycle. And if I let it, I get caught in its rotation and forget to…you know…breathe.

My point is this. It’s so easy to just do routine. To get what needs to be done done. And one day, you pause and look around and think to yourself, Where am I? How did I get here? I used to have the energy to put on makeup everyday. I used to have time to finish things. I used to be so confident as to what direction to go in life.

But what the Lord has been showing me recently is that life comes and goes in seasons. Nothing lasts.

And when I grasp that perspective, it makes it a little easier to push through the hard days and causes me to more fully savor the good ones.

I’m sure there have been seasons of your life that have felt endless, but looking back at them now, you can see they didn’t last forever.

There were times in college where I literally thought a class was going to kill me. The work was hard, the professor sounded like the guy from the Clear Eyes commercial except not as interesting. (I probably just dated myself with that reference. If you’re a little young thing, please smile and nod…then watch them on YouTube so we can be on the same page.) I had to work my tail off in those classes just to make an average grade.

But that time didn’t last. The class really did end and eventually it became a faint memory that still makes my eye twitch. It was a season that passed.

After college I went through a huge emotional shifting. I had to figure out life very quickly when my entire world felt like it was crumbling around me. I didn’t know what to do or where to go or if I would make it out in one piece.

But I did make it—more whole than I ever could have thought possible. In that dry land of unknowns, I cultivated strong friendships. I learned more about myself in that season of difficulty than I had in any previous season of ease. That time didn’t last. It became a season that passed.

After my husband and I got married, there was so much to figure out and get used to. Thank goodness he put the roll of toilet paper on the right way, so that wasn’t one of the battles. (The correct way is over…not under. Ever.) But we still had a lot of other important decisions to make. Jobs, moving, finances, transition. And then there was the general settling in to our new married roles. There were many times that we didn’t know what was around the corner or if our rent would even get paid.

But we made it. The hardships sealed us together in the most beautiful way. We had to lean into each other and rely fully on God during that season. It was scary and wonderful and life changing. I wouldn’t want to do it over again, but I’ll tell you, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Because we learned to quiet ourselves to hear His voice when we desperately needed direction, we recognized His voice when He called us into the next wonderful season. And every year we’ve gotten strong and stronger.

Four years ago and 2 years ago, I miscarried babies. We went through a season of grief and rawness. I ached for my babies and I cried every day. There were no answers to the whys or guarantees for the future. But those times changed me. My losses stirred up strength. The brokenness brought wholeness in some ways.

And although the scars will always be there, the initial sting lasted a season.

Life is not a solid line stretching from point A to point B. It’s fluid—constantly moving, changing and shifting.

If you are grieving deeply and feel like nothing will ever resemble anything close to normal again, remember—there will be life again. There is a future and it is filled with more seasons. Healing is on its way.

If you find yourself in a place of confusion and you’re wondering whether you should move forward or hold still, remember—this is a season. Listen to His voice. Clarity is coming.

If you can’t find your makeup bag for 4 days because you barely have enough energy to do anything besides chase adorable little people around the house and wash their 47 sippy cups every night, remember—little people grow up and one day there won’t be sippy cups to wash. So savor the chaos. Forget the makeup. It will soon be a season that passed.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

How to Keep Your Home Immaculate While Living with a Toddler

Clean-House

For years, I struggled. I worked tirelessly to have both worlds – children and a clean house. As someone who struggled with keeping an organized and clean house before kids, those cute little ones added a whole new element to the already impossible task. I would do what I like to call “The Run Through.” That’s where I would speed around like a wild woman in each room, picking up as much as I could in the least amount of time. If I made good time with “The Run Through” (my best time being 7 minutes, 48 seconds), I would even begin on the laundry. However, 9 times out of 10, I would turn around and see what looked like a F5 tornado (also known as a toddler) had hit the entire house again when my back was turned. Well, the struggle is over. I have discovered 9 Simple Tips that solve every momma’s clutter problem and if you follow them, you too can have an immaculate house while living with a toddler.

1. Carpets

The cleanliness of your carpets are threatened by a few things. But one of these things surpasses them all. Oh sure, at first glance it seems harmless…pretty even. But looks can be so deceiving. Glitter. Once the little bottle tips over, that stuff flies through the air and it looks like a shimmery atomic bomb went off. You will find it in the carpet for the rest of your life. And just for good measure, stay away from all crafting and messy projects. Glue sticks, Play-Doh, markers, paint. I shudder to even think of what they would do to the carpets if left in the hands of a toddler.

2. Clean Windows

To keep clean windows, it is imperative to keep curious little hands and inquisitive faces from being pressed against the glass. If a firetruck drives by, a flock of birds lands on the patio, or it begins to snow, discourage the child from looking out.

3. Furniture

To keep the furniture spotless, restrict all eating to the dining room table. This includes sippy cups, suckers and all snacks in general. And no jumping. No shoes. Only sitting.

4. Living Room

The living room is the most important room in the house because that is where you will most likely socialize with your guests. As awesome as it would be to throw all the cushions on the floor and pretend that they are boats floating down a raging river, don’t. Dragging in the dining room chairs and placing them in a circle, then covering them up with sheets and blankets would make for an epic fort. But then your toddler will want to have fun. And fun is messy.

5. Laundry

Use the time that your toddler is quietly reading books or practicing algebra to make sure all laundry is separated, washed, dried, folded and hung.

6. Bath Time

To keep the floors dry and the bathtub looking neat and tidy, keep bath time simple and uneventful. No bubbles. No toys. In and out.

7. Walls

Because children’s hands are always sticky (regardless of whether or not they’ve touched something sticky) your walls will inevitably have little handprints on every wall of your home. These smudges are at exactly hip level and come in a variety of colors and textures. To avoid your walls looking like your toddler gave 6,000 sticky high fives to your home, have your toddler wear gloves at all times. No exceptions.

8. Potty Training

There’s no getting around it…this is strictly an outside-hire job. If the carpets, furniture and bedding are to stay clean, dry and poop free, potty training can not take place within the house. If the potty training child has to stay on the premises, the majority of said training should happen outside. Laying down newspapers in the child’s playroom will also work as an absolute last resort.

9. Organization

One word – Pinterest. Not only will your DIY organizers be functional, they will also be gorgeous. While you’re watching your toddler in backyard having the time of her life painting rocks, (with water, not paint of course) pull up your Organization board and get sewing! The projects are so easy and cost/time efficient. You’re sure to nail every project every time and walk away feeling really good about yourself. In only four hours, voila! You have yourself one fabric-lined, shoebox-sized organizer. Thank you, Pinterest. Thank you.

Ok, ok. So these tips are…ridiculous, to say the least. But really, I think that’s what I would have to do in order to have an always clean, always organized home. If you’re like me, you struggle to keep clean underwear washed for your husband, much less perfectly clean or organize anything in your life. There are always at least a few dishes in the sink and toys are always strewn around the house. I can’t see through the bottom half of any window or glass door of my home because the toddler handprints, face smudges and dog nose marks have fogged them all. 

But you know what my home does have? Giggles. And lots of them. We laugh and we play and make messes. Our adventures are unrivaled and I know our playtime together will not last forever. One day, my little people will grow up. My windows will be clean and the house will be more organized. My heart aches to think about it.

Oh, weary momma. Don’t feel guilty that you juggle playtime and housework all day long and feel like you have nothing to show for it. Don’t measure the success of your day by the size of the dirty laundry pile. Don’t worry that your bed is always unmade or the sink always has dishes in it.

You try so hard. You work so hard.

Did you and your child giggle today? Then you did today right.

Are there handprints still on the kitchen table from working on today’s masterpiece? Then you did today right.

The giggles. The adventures. The dance parties. The glitter explosions. Those make up the memories that your children will carry for the rest of their lives. They won’t remember how clean the windows were. They will remember all the fun you had taking turns making each other laugh by smashing your faces against the glass.

You’re awesome, momma. The mess is just for a season. So enjoy this season.

Now, go make that epic fort.