By Elizabeth Behrens | Category: Pursuing God, The Journey of Motherhood | Posted Wednesday, April 25, 2012
I am so excited to introduce you to another new contributing blogger (can I get a woot, woot ?) Speaking candidly and from the heart is something I treasure in others and Elizabeth is no exception. Today she opens her heart in an honest reveal of self evaluation and as she does so I am challenged to do the same. I would love to know who of you can relate to Elizabeth’s confession and hope you will feel comfortable leaving a comment. We would love to hear from you.
My name is Elizabeth Behrens and I’m the wife to an amazing husband and mother to two beautiful daughters, Evelyn and Annabelle. I began blogging when we moved to Kansas City, away from all our family and friends, in order to keep them in touch with our lives. It’s turned into my favorite place to record our family’s memories, share our struggles with Evelyn who was diagnosed with Celiac disease over a year ago, and tell the story of our hopes of adopting in the near future.
I was the kid who made up her own games at recess and was happy to play them alone. I was the teenager who hung out, quite contentedly, in her own room a lot. I was the college student who had her own dorm room instead of a roommate. And now I’m the mom, clinging to her sanity as two small children find happiness in crawling all over me, pulling at my legs while I cook, and wanting to sit in my lap while I eat my lunch.
Now I adore my children with every fiber of my being. I stare at them while they watch a movie so I can absorb the adorable reactions that cross their face. I secretly record them singing so that I can listen to it over and over again because they won’t repeat it once they realize they have an audience. I savor teaching them new things and watching the glow they get in their eyes when the light bulb clicks on and they get it.
None of these things change the fact though that God created me to be an introverted person and spending every waking hour surrounded by little people exhausts me to no end. My love for them doesn’t keep me from counting down until naptime so that I know I can have a few moments where I’m all by myself.
I’ve finally reached the point where I can openly say that I love my children; that they feel like little bits of my heart walking around outside my body, but I need time away from them. That used to induce great amounts of guilt for me. Huge quantities of it. And I would be lying to say that twinges don’t still arise from time to time. But the truth of the matter is that parenting is hard work, and that work takes on a different dimension when you are introverted.
One of the biggest moments of letting go of that guilt came during a sermon I heard where the pastor confessed that we was an introvert that loved people. I wanted to stand up and say, “me, too!” That’s me! I love people, I love spending time with them, getting to know them, entering their lives and supporting them. But people exhaust me! I need time away to be all by my lonesome.
A quick glance through the gospels shows Christ himself going off for time alone. Time to pray. Time to meditate. Time to recharge.
Not only did I not have to feel guilty about it anymore, I no longer had to see it as a character flaw either. Because it’s really, truly not. Wanting and needing to be alone in order to recharge and feel like yourself again is perfectly acceptable.
So how do other introverted mothers get through their day? Any tips for survival?
By MelodyGross | Category: Pursuing God, The Journey of Motherhood | Posted Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Are you guys enjoying our new contributing bloggers? I feel like our conversation here has been broadened and enriched as these new mommy voices have chimed in and I am loving it. I hope you are too. Today I want to introduce you to Melody. I love that she is a homeschooling mother because I know that will resonate with many of you. I love that she is willing to speak transparently about her life because we can all use a breath of fresh air in that department. And I love that she loves Jesus which means we have the same standard of God’s loving grace to start from and from there we can grow and teach each other as we learn different lessons along the way. With a broad smile and warm heart, I welcome Melody:
Hi! My name is Melody Gross. I’m a stay at home mama and homeschooling newbie to a very rambunctious brood of little people. At this very moment, my house is nearly quiet, except for the muffled sounds of Veggie Tales that I have going for my kiddos, a few rooms away. I try not to use TV as a babysitter too often, but it has been one of those mornings where there was serious threat of this mama going off the deep end, “If one more person gets out a roll of toilet paper to do a magic trick…”
I sit in our home office that looks much like a small bomb has gone off. On my desk is quite the array of clutter: a half eaten candy bar (which will very soon become a whole eaten candy bar), a pile of my daughter’s new headbands and socks, some rouge bathtub toys, an action figure, a wilted daffodil blossom, and _____, you name it, it’s probably in here somewhere. And littering the floor there are boxes of clothes (eventually bound for the attic) shoes, paper wrappers, and yes, even a set of golf clubs tucked back in the corner. The breakfast dishes have yet to be cleaned up, and dirty clothes are spilling out from the laundry room and into our hallway. And apparently, my two year old has grown tired of singing vegetables. He’s now squirming in my lap, coloring with an ink pen (mostly on paper but also on my arm), and very adamantly demanding my i-pod. I’m wondering how long it’s going to be until he discovers the chocolate.
Oh this crazy, messy life of mine. This is not what I envisioned before I became a mom. Seriously, I was going to have it all together! My kids would be quiet, little, subservient angles. My house would always be immaculate. And I would most certainly never lock myself in the bathroom, just so I could eat my Snack Pack in peace.
I had this whole mothering gig figured out.
Then I became a mom.
My kids are not quiet. My house is not clean. And locking myself in the bathroom is a pretty common occurrence around here. It turns out this whole raising human beings thing, is pretty tricky.
But God’s grace abounds. And oh, how He is using this wild, tornadoesque life of mine, to mold and shape me. This mama who used to hold so tightly to every.single.thing. is slowly learning to loosen her grasp. And as it turns out, letting go can be a truly wonderful thing.
My life is loud. My life is messy. But mingled with the chaos and the noise, beauty and joy reside.
aaaand…my toddler just discovered the golf clubs.
By Jocelyn Compton | Category: Pursuing God | Posted Monday, April 16, 2012
Not too long ago you were introduced to Jami Nato, who is now one of our contributing bloggers. Through Jami’s blog I met another lovely woman named Jocelyn. Although Jocelyn is relatively new to our blog, her heart sings the same song as mine in many ways including her love of Jesus. I had the privilege of reading the words that Jocelyn has written below last week and since that time they have etched themselves on my heart continually reminding me of the gift that awaits us, should we be wise enough to clothe ourselves properly. I pray they will encourage you as well.
Hi! My name is Jocelyn Compton. I’m a lawyer-turned-homemaker (the best kind of lawyer, uhthankyou). I love Jesus, my family, reading, running, baking, coffee with friends, writing and the Oregon Ducks. Phew. I’m figuring out how to cook, garden, love my husband, parent and homeschool. And, this is my fam.
My daughter, Eliza Grace, is four (and a half, she’ll tell you) years old. Sandwiched between two brothers. She loves all things pink, sparkly, glittery, and sequined. Preferably all of that on the same article of clothing. Or at least the same outfit. Her daily “quiet time” is usually filled with a plethora of outfit changes. It’s kind of how I imagine backstage at a runway show during Fashion Week in New York City. Clothes flying out of drawers and off of hangers. Lightning fast wardrobe changes. Massive amounts of make-up (okay, in her case, Lip Smackers) being applied.
But the Lord calls me, as a believer, to put on just one outfit. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground . . . Stand firm then with the belt of truth . . . the breastplate of righteousness . . . your feet fitted . . . take up the shield of faith . . . [T]ake the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Eph. 6:13-17). He gives me one thing to wear. It is actually God’s own personal armor. An amazing gift from an amazing God.
The only catch is that I have to put the armor on. I love Paul’s imagery of changing our clothes to illustrate the process of change in our lives. It’s like any type of clothing. Clothes are not going to do me much good sitting on my closet floor, or strewn across the chair in my bedroom, or rumpled in a laundry basket (not that my clothes are ever in those places – ummm). In just that way, God’s armor won’t do me any good if I don’t purposefully put it on.
In those moments when I am about ready to snap at my kiddos in impatience . . . again. When I can feel the anger rising up . . . again. When I’m tempted to obsess over an offense committed against me, trying to look at it from every angle. When I feel like I just can’t make it to naptime or to the hubs’s arrival home from work. Those are the moments when I need to put on the full armor of God. The Word of God, the Truth stored up in my heart, and prayer are my armor and my weapons for womanhood, motherhood, wifehood, relationships, crises, and plain old daily life.
Part of the armor-ing up process is putting off the old self first. Paul calls the Ephesian believers “to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires.” (Eph. 4:22). Often when Eliza is in her outfit-changing frenzy, she forgets to take off pieces of one outfit before putting on the next. And sometimes she just can’t figure out how to get off some piece of clothing. It has led to some pretty amazing combinations of clothing. Amazingly adorable on a four-year-old munchkin.
But, when I neglect to take off my “old clothes” before putting on the armor of God, it’s not adorable at all. It’s a terrible ugly mess. Lately I’ve realized that when I struggle, it’s often because I’m trying to pile on the Truth without taking off my old self first. Just add a little bit of this Truth here, a little of that Truth there. Be kind with my words, but harbor bitterness in my heart. Speak the words “thank you” but grumble and complain in my thought life over what I didn’t get. Add a few encouraging words here, but continue allowing unwholesome talk to come out of my mouth there. Give generously with my time, but not with my money.
More often than I’d like to admit to you, I don’t take the time to stop. To spend time with Jesus. I mean really spend time with Him. Looking at my heart with Him. Thoroughly examining where my sinful nature is rearing its ugly head. To purposefully reject the world and its way of doing things. Ephesians 4:17 says that we “must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.” The amazing thing about God is that He wants to help me with this process. Miss Eliza gets stuck in a shirt. I get stuck in my sin. Eliza needs my help to get that shirt off. I need God’s help to conquer my sin. And, He gives it to me. He doesn’t leave me to struggle and figure it out all by myself. In Ephesians 6:10 He says “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Our good and gracious God gives us His power for all things. Including the power to put off the world and to put on His own armor.
So, I’m asking Him to help me remember that the armor is there, available to me at all times. My ideal is to be up before my children to study God’s Word and to have uninterrupted prayer before everyone is awake. Sometimes (okay, a lot of times, I’ll admit it) my ideal just doesn’t happen. But, I can still put off my old self and put on the armor of God.
I’m asking Jesus to stop me dead in my tracks throughout the day when my thinking goes haywire. Asking Him to cause me to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and stop before I take that first step down the path of sin. Or, to stop even if I’ve already headed down that path . . . when that first unkind or gossipy word has already rolled off of my tongue, when I’ve already snapped once at a kiddo, when I have that first unforgiving thought about an offense committed against me. To stop, turn from my sin, and turn my focus to Jesus.
When we turn our focus to Jesus, He protects our minds with peace. We are protected with God’s armor. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you . . . ” (Isaiah 26:3). I can post the Word on my walls where I can see it, I can carry it on index cards to the grocery store, I can sing it with my kiddos. Paul tells the Christians at Ephesus to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
It is such an amazing gift to have access to God, His armor, protection and weapons for everything I face.
I don’t want to leave it sitting on my closet floor.
P.S. If you enjoyed Jocelyn’s post, please let her know and if you would enjoy writing on this blog, the offer still stands!
By Heather Ledeboer | Category: Pursuing God | Posted Monday, January 9, 2012
Now the serpent was the shrewdest of all the creatures the Lord God had made. “Really?” he asked the woman. “Did God really say you must not eat any of the fruit?” Genesis 3:1
A handful of warped words and twisted truth changed everything for Eve. A few moments spent focused on the tempter and everything that was once perfect, unraveled.
How easily I can do the same. Sometimes all it takes is one night of poor sleep, one afternoon in a dirty house, one outburst from more than one child at time and my focus slips, my perception fades, my priorities disappear. Just recently I ended the day feeling discouraged and overwhelmed. As I began my evening routine I thought of Eve. I wondered how she arrived at the foot of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the first place. She knew the fruit of this tree was forbidden. She had been told that death would come should she eat of it. Yet one day she stood close enough for the words of the serpent to poison her mind as the desires of her flesh tempted her heart. Why did she wander so close, did she not sense the eminent danger?
I get too close to health danger when I go too many nights without adequate sleep, when I start eating too many unhealthy foods and when I don’t drink enough water. Even worse, I get too close to heart danger when I compare my life or my possessions to others, when I focus too heavily on things that are temporal and when I commit spiritual starvation by attempting to be sustained today on “food” consumed last week.
I am challenged today to remember that the tempter would love nothing more than to whisper lies within my heart. Giving him a ear to do so only puts me at the foot of the tree ready to reach out to grasp the fruit. Instead, I need to run straight into the arms of my Heavenly father and cast all my cares upon him, because he promises to care for me.
“Give all your cares and worries to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7
By Heather Ledeboer | Category: Pursuing God, The Journey of Motherhood | Posted Thursday, December 1, 2011
I sit. Hands in lap, chin up, heart churning. My hair, wet and combed, is held at the nape of my neck by a band securely holding the 12 inches of length grown out over the last several years. These inches were with me when I cradled my son Sawyer for the last time. They graced my neck as we anticipated Quinten’s arival