Five Inspirational Verses on Mothering

1) Psalm 31: 28-29!

28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”

For years. Like 20 plus years, I have watched as Proverbs 31 was held up as the gold standard that all Good Christian Women should immolation. I’ve read books, done Bible studies, listened to sermons revolving around this particular passage in the Bible.

And last year, I began to hate it.

Ok maybe hate is a string word.

But I began to loathe hearing about this Wonder Woman.

And , far too often. I bore witness to Proverbs being used as a club to emotionally beat women . Shape up, be like this Shining example. Stay up late, rise early, don’t eat the bread of idleness. I have even heard the case of “strength and valor” being the reason we modern women should workout and stay fit , in order to please our husbands physically.

And I hate to admit but I’m my 20s I bought this hook, line, and sinker.

Having a baby every two years is not exactly conducive to shedding post baby pounds, y’all. And now you’re telling me I’m biblically mandated to appear fit in order to appease my husband. Just back that truck load of guilt, condemnation, and body shame right on up and dump it on me.

By now you might be wondering where the inspiration comes in.

Guess what?!?! We got it all wrong!!!

In Ancient times, Jewish men would sing this proverb over their wives every sabbath.

And some orthodox Jewish men continue this practice today.

Over their wives. Every week.

As in, these women already are these things.

Proverbs 31 isn’t a todo list. It’s not a list of goals. It isn’t even a list of virtues we have to pattern our lives after. We are already proverbs 31 women. the more we become like Christ, the more these traits are showing up in us and through us. No striving or weight loss or shiny hair required.

We don’t have to become women of valor. We already are!

( woohooo)

Luke 2:51 b

“But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.”

I love this verse. Theologically it’s fun to think about how Mary and Joseph would have attempted to parent Jesus. But today I’m bringing this verse to your attention because I’m highlighting Mary’s role not as virgin but as mom.

Because we do this, don’t we?

We relate labor stories , and we tear up on their birthdays. We remember long nights of walking the floor when they had colic. We remember the first tooth, the first word, the first step. We keep locks of hair from their first haircut. We have their baby teeth crammed in the back of our jewelry boxes. ( what are we going to do with them? We have no clue.)

This verse reminds me that this is what moms do. We remember. We carry our children’s stories until they are ready to take ownership of them there selves.

3: Isaiah 66:13

“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.”

This is a sweet verse as it relates to the nature of mothering. Comfort.

Today I am reminded of God parenting us. comforting us, even as we in turn pour our our lives , our time, our energy to comfort and build up our children.

4: Isaiah 49:15

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”

What a love. We understand this to be rhetorical. Of course we wouldn’t forget our babies.

Occasionally one hears of neglectful or abusive , or even downright monstrous mothers on the news… but they are the exception that process the rule. They are noteworthy precisely because they are unusual.

Mother’s protect and care for their young. Mother’s make themselves available in a million little ways for their precious children.

Mother’s are compassionate, consistently putting their babies needs above their own. There is a reason there is a term “mother love”.

And as fiercely as we love our children, God loves us, and then, even more. What good news!

5 : Proverbs 31: 10-12

For our final verse today we are headed back to Proverbs 31. We remember that this isn’t a list to achieve , but encouragement to delight in.

10 [a]A wife of noble character(A) who can find?(B)
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband(C) has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.(D)
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.

I hope this encourages you today, no matter where you are on your mothering journey.

Piles of Puppies

My life has been overrun by puppies.

We are doing chores with puppies, school with puppies.

I knew they would be cute but I wasn’t prepared for how absolutely delightful it is to have a puppy snuggled up to you while working on something else.

10 Ways to Nurture Your Children

What is nurturing? Nurturing is essentially developing a secure bond between your child and yourself. I’m going to give you ten ways to nurture your children. Some of them you may not have thought of before, many of them may be things you are already doing.

One: Look your child in the eyes when they are speaking to you.

This may seem like something I put here just to illicit an eye roll response form you but I assure you that it is not the case.

Maintaining meaningful eye contact as your child speaks shows them that they are valuable to you. That they are worthy of your time, attention and focus.

Two : Love them Unconditionally

Basically, love them even when you don’t feel especially loving. Don’t withhold your encouragement when they are struggling in an area. Don’t withhold love, adoration or respect as a means of manipulating your child into a certain behavior. Your child shouldn’t have to achieve in a realm you deem valid- academics, sports, beauty – before you accept them. Your child is valuable simply because they are a person. As people, we are created in the image of God. That gives each person worth simply by virtue of existence. Let’s try to love our small people accordingly.

Three: Be empathetic.

Your friend’s problems are your problems. You empathize about their unfair boss, their stretched too thin paycheck, and their overbearing mother in law…

Our children should be counted among our greatest friends. We should empathize with their struggles. I’m not advocating for overindulgence or coddling them. I’m saying that when they are struggling to learn to speak correctly, we are gentle with them. And when we correct them, we make sure to encourage them at the same time.

Empathy doesn’t mean we give them the permission to have a come- apart over every broken toy from the dollar spot. Rather, it means relating to them on their terms.

Saying things along the lines of “ I’m sorry your friend ignored you today. That must feel really hurtful.”

Let’s make sure that we aren’t quickly brushing aside all of their fears and concerns.

This relates to valuing our children, as well.

Four: Don’t lie to your children

Don’t lie to your children. Ever. Instead, aim to develop a strong bond with them, built on a secure foundation of trust.

As their parent, you are their number one means of support. You are their advocate. When you lie to them, this completely undermines the foundational level of trust .

How hard is it to trust a friend or parter when they lie to you?

We don’t want to put our kids in that position.

Five : Be a Soft Place to Land

Physically, mentally, ,emotionally. Welcome their comments, questions and concerns. Hear them out. Be that comfort and supper system for them. Be proactive about meeting their need so there isn’t a huge deficit that you have to fill.

Some examples ; physically maybe they need an extra ten minutes of snuggling before bedtime. Emotionally perhaps they simply need for you to listen without judgement or rushing to explain your opinion on a topic.

Six : Foster Meaningful Conversation

Each day. Let’s commit to each other that we are going to follow through on this.

When? At breakfast, in the car on the way to school, dinner time… the time of day is not nearly as important as insuring that we are having meaningful conversations with our children on a regular basis.

Learn about your child.

They are a separate entity. They may have come forth from your womb, but they aren’t a miniature you.

They have their own needs. Give your chickened what they need. Not what you need. Not even what you think they need. Give them what they need. Being a student of your child is helpful to this. Much ink has been spilled over love languages and personality types, and these are well and good and sometimes even immensely helpful.

But – spoiler alert – your child’s emotional needs will be pretty basic. They won’t be the emotional equivalent of trigonometry. Being seen, heard, understood, loved…. These are what our kids from us.

8: Ask your children “what makes you feel loved” periodically.

I do this about once a year. Often, I think I know as a parent what my kids value, how they feel loved.l, specifically how they receive love .

And each time they say something that surprises me, something I hadn’t considered or hadn’t realized meant much to them.

Nine: Teach them something each and everyday.

Awaken their curiosity. Read books. Do projects. Provide opportunities for them to learn and explore. A vital part of child development, of humanity’s development, is learning about the world around us. Give them opportunities to do just that.

Play classical music. Take them to an art museum. Read Shakespeare. These are eye- opening delights. And your child isn’t too young to experience them. We listen to classical music not because we want to few supine to others, but because classical music is timeless and widens the imagination. We don’t have to attend art lectures or have a degree to enjoy really beautiful paintings. And neither do our kids!

Ten : Spiritual Development

Spiritual development. This one of the main commands given to parents in the Bible. We are told to diligently teach our children about God and His ways.

But

At the end of the day- we’re going to fail our kids. We are. And I know for many of us that’s not what we want to hear. But it’s the truth. We’re going to mess up. Focus on the wrong things sometimes. Sometimes because of tragedy or stress we don’t show up for our kids like we should. We let teachable moments slip by because we are distracted .

We are human.

God alone is the perfect parent. If our kids knownHim, they know a loving Father who is never going to abandon them.

And really, what could possibly be more nurturing than that?

Fresh Starts and Arbitrary Measurements.

I love the fresh start of a new year.

Clean slate.

Zero mistakes.

No regrets clouding my view or keeping me up at night.

I love plans and goals and color coded charts,

And yet, last year, I only set one goal for myself.

I didn’t achieve it.

But I did make great strides in that area.

And I don’t feel like a failure for not attaining it.

This would have not been the case a few years ago.

I know all about five year plans and SMART goals. In the past I have utilized them, and I still actively appreciate and kind of love them.

But it occurred to me last year, that a lot of the goals we set are tied to numbers.

Work out X number of times.

Loose x amount of weight.

Save X amount of dollars.

And sometimes, even when we accomplish what we set out to do, we aren’t satisfied.

We move on, to another number.

Growth is crucial. We want to continue to grow and learn and develop. We want to be kinder and gentler and wiser each and every year. And goals can help us to head in those directions.

However, I’m tired of tying my sense of self worth to arbitrarily decided measurements.

I’m more than the sum total of the number on the scale, the number of followers I have on Instagram.

I’m more than the size of my home, my income, even -dare I mention it- my carbon footprint.

I’m more than the number of lines that are magically appearing on my forehead, more than the decades that are starting to rapidly slide by.

I’m more than my height (not much), and more than my girth (too much). I’m more than my bust, hip, and waist measurements.

I’m more than the dollars in my bank account, the worth of my earthly possessions .

I’m more than my age, the candles on my cake.

And although I personally adore the Enneagram, that also is not the sun total of who I am.

None of these adequately describe who I am.

I’m more than the numbers others might use to describe me.

And so are you.

Girls, grab your planners! It’s a new year!

Are you a journal keeper? Do you enjoy planning? I do, on both counts.

I do Morning Pages every morning, which is basically three pages of stream of consciousness before you start your day each morning.

I also write weekly in my Next Right Thing Journal by Emily P Freeman.

I am currently working out of two planners – one my mom created for me for my personal work and home tasks, and then a second planner just for homeschool lessons and assignments.

First semester it was all in one place and it was a bit messy- I’m hoping that dual planners help my crazy brain this semester.

My boys purchased a gorgeous leather notebook for me for Christmas this year, and as I am turning 35 in April, I plan to record my special moments in that notebook. I’m calling it Year of 35 because I’m so unique in the arena of naming things . 😜

My Year of 35 pages thus far :

* 2021 Memories : a few notes on each month .

* My Word of the Year : the word, the definition, and some thoughts

* 10 areas of my life and their corresponding goals/ intentions

* one page for each of my “main” relationships

* a page of Dreams for the next year. These aren’t goals exactly, more like things I hope to accomplish.

I used to plan five or so goals for each area of my life. I think growing older, plus the season of life I’m in, are contributing to me aiming more for Adjustments rather than Complete Overhauls.

I like how my morning time is working, I like my rhythm of working out, I like how our homeschool is progressing… so rather than big audacious goals, what I need are more minor adjustments.

I love SMART goals, and Five Year Plans. But I don’t plan to utilize them this year.

The next five years will be very important, as I will be graduating 3 of my children in that span of time. Not having a five year plan doesn’t mean the time period is not important. Rather, it means I’m learning to lean in and asses in each season what my children need most from me.

Where are you at ?

Are you a bit sad and nostalgic for the year that had passed?

Are you looking forward to the year to come, ready and eager to turn the page on the calendar?

Do you have huge goals that you’re ready to chase?

Or do your resolutions look more like gentle intentions this year?

Images of Motherhood… or How to Be Your Own Lifestyle Photographer

We love these children. We would give our lives for them. We diligently plan fun experiences for them, and capture their lives on camera.

But do we have photos of ourselves with them, or are we always behind the camera?

I am sharing images I took this year of me with my children , with both my Canon and my iPhone camera.

I don’t always like how I look, but in thankful to have these photos.

Now, you probably already know that DSLR cameras take the highest quality photos.

In fact, I wish I had more high resolution photos with my children from when they were young.

However, getting photos with your children is the main thing, and if all you have available is a camera phone, I will be sharing tips for that scenario as well.

Tip Number One : Document Your Actual Life

– Homework

-Dinner

– Practice

For me , in 2021 these photos looked like

– Bella learning to read

– creating crafts together

– dinner time

– quick (cellphone) family photos on the way out the door

What ages are your children? What stages are they in?

Sure, nicely posed portraits have their time and place. But as my children get older, I’m finding that I love the photos that captured very particular stages in their lives.

Playing with Blocks : Taken by remote on Canon DSLR Camera .
Learning to Read , slightly out of focus , taken on a timer.

Could these images be sharper, more in focus? Yes. Thankfully I have grown as a photographer since taking them. Am I glad I have them regardless of the quality? Also , yes. Just take photos with your children!

Tip Number Two : Utilize that Cell Phone Camera ! Timers, Selfie’s, and mirror photos , oh my!

If your cell phone camera is all you have – utilize it. Cell phone cameras have come a very long way, and are a photographing mom’s best friend.

Set your timer and read to your child, or practice yoga together.

Take a Mirror Photo of you wearing matching outfits.

Set up the timer and snap pictures of you playing with your children, reading to them, doing crafts.

Not the highest quality image, but it adequately captures the moment.

Tip Number Three : Know your Angles

Ok, so to be fully candid here : when I’m working with my camera for lifestyle photos of my children and I , I’m not particularly worried about my hair or makeup or possible double chin.

However, I also feel that one of my main hang ups when printing photos of me with my children, can be how I feel about the way I look.

I also get frustrated with many of my photographer friends who don’t pose Moms in flattering poses, because it perpetuates the problem of moms not liking how they look in photos , but that is a different post for a different day.

Sometimes , you want a cute photo of you and your child. Sometimes, you want to share it without reservations or over analyzing how you look… or how you Feel about how you look…

Enter the Mom Selfie. That’s when holding your phone above you , IG selfie style, works wonders. It isn’t exactly Hi-Res, but you’ll have an easy win, a photo of you and your child that you feel good about, and that certainly counts.

That’s when holding your phone above you , IG selfie style, works wonders. It isn’t exactly Hi-Res, but you’ll have an easy win, a photo of you and your child that you feel good about, and that certainly counts.

Tip # 3 Know Your Angles – this was a Very Important Doll Wedding

Tip Number Four : Take Posed Photos, as well as Candids on Timers

Mother’s Day, semi- posed with DSLR. I got my boys to cooperate by telling them we were only taking photos for ten minutes.
Our “Official” Family photo, taken with my DSLR.
Decorating the Tree- on a timer, I had no idea what I’d end up with. Frankly, everyone looks cute but I’m making a dumb face. However, what stands out to me is the laughter. We were having a blast.
But capturing the moment is what we’re doing here.

Tip Number Five : Just Take The Photo Already!

When working with toddlers, teens, groups of people , or the camera adverse… something is better than nothing. Don’t love how I look in this photo, but love the memories of Thanksgiving dinner around the table.

Stop striving for perfection. Aim to authentically capture your life as it is right now, not in some imaginary scenario.

Thanksgiving dinner – Shot on a DSLR, Remote timer, but didn’t pose per say

Tip Number Six : Take a Quick Family Photo in Your Way Out of the Door.

Headed to church, wearing matching hoodies . It’s cute. It reminds me of this time in our lives, and it took less than two minutes.

If you’re headed out, this is a great time to snap a photo with your cell phone. Your children are clean and dressed, and your partner is most likely with you. I love how these turn out, and they’re usually just for me anyway.

My teen boys aren’t fond of posing for photos, but they don’t generally mind a quick cellphone picture with the whole family.

Tip Number Seven : Capture the Season, your way.

Baking together. This photo is certainly imperfect, in that you can see my phone , and my hair is a mess, but I love that it captures the fun time we had.

This could be the literal season (Spring) the Holiday Season, or the Season in your life (; (crawling , toddler, teen, )

A special Christmas tea last year. It’s fun to take similar photos annually and note how much your children have grown.

Play up the colors of whatever season you’re in- this was obviously spring.

In conclusion, friends, take photos of you interacting with your children. In twenty years you won’t care what you looked like now, you’ll just be glad that you have photos of this very special time in your life .

And , for my photographer friends, I know I broke a few cardinal rules. Ie, I should have edited all the photos the same way, etc. I’m trying to show imperfect motherhood captured authenticity. That was the point, not technically perfect photos. Thank you.

Glitz and Glitter and Glamour

We are in the transition from Christmas to the new year.

Everyone is a little off.

Children are off school.

The house is a little off after the festivities .

It’s not quite the new year, but it almost is.

The temptation to swing from the pendulum of excess – excess of food, drink, possessions – to the opposite side of minimal is present.

And so New Years resolutions proliferate our brains like so many Black Friday circulars .

Eat less, move more. More water, less wine. No more sugar. This year I’m going to get organized.

But what if we held off for a day . Or three.

The week between Christmas and the New Year is not the time to make new resolutions. It’s not the time to trot out all your insecurities and plan goals around them.

It’s time to rest . It’s time to reflect. It’s time to spend treasured time with those around you.

The garage, the 20 extra pounds, the endless paperwork..those things will still be there the second and third week of January. And if someday we magically straighten those issues out? New ones will take their place.

We can put off the things that annoy us for a week .

We’ve worked hard to get to this point.

Remember the hustle and bustle of early December?

This week is your reward. Claim it. Enjoy it. Savor it.

Don’t beat it into submission.

Enjoy the Glitz and glitter and glamour. We all know these things don’t last.

That doesn’t mean we have to ignore or push through. Temporary can be fun. Glitter has its place.

Not Quite Done Christmasing

I have learned a handful of lessons this Christmas Season.

The top three that come to mind are:

1) we will continue making good, meaningful memories.

2) When I don’t over decorate, then I’m more peaceful, and not itching to undecorate immediately the day after Christmas.

3 ) We don’t have to stop celebrating Christmas on December 25th. We can continue for as long as we like. In fact, many people celebrate until January 6th- Epiphany. I decided that is what I’m doing this year. ( Even though classes resume the 2nd.)

The first lesson is meaningful to me because I have been feeling excessively nostalgic. My oldest has his license, my second has his permit.

My second youngest is a freshman, my oldest will be a senior in the fall.

There are ongoing conversations about what it means to be a man, and why it’s easier to never try drugs in the first place rather than trying to overcome an addiction.

There are part time jobs and honest conversations about character traits, and plans about what the future might hold.

And while all this is good and wonderful and full of hope… I miss the little days. I miss being their whole world . I miss snuggles on the couch, and whispered secrets.

I miss them and they’re still all right here. This seems excessively ridiculous, and that is precisely why I’m sharing it.

And all this is to say, that in the very midst of being sad and nostalgic, we had a great time together. Looking at lights, playing games, just talking and drinking coffee.

I realized that this might have been the best Christmas yet.

And I also said this last year.

And the year before that.

So, then by my own admission- each and every Christmas is the best ever.

Meaning that just maybe, we are still living the “good old days”, right now.

Maybe even though I feel sad that my kids are growing up, I can acknowledge that we’re still making great memories right now.

This is a necessary and valuable thing to remember.

My second lesson is pretty self evident. By choosing to decorate three main places , I am not “tired of” Christmas decor by December 26th.

My third lesson ties into the first two.

We’ve had some great times of celebrating this Christmas season. We also have had a lot of hosting , volunteering, and projects.

I don’t feel like I’m finished celebrating Christmas, so.. I’m going to keep going.

The tree is staying up. I’ll still be lighting the red candles, and playing calm, contemplative a Christmas carols.

And I have a big Christmas party to host this weekend with family from out of town.

I’m not finished with that trappings of Christmas, because at the end of the day, there is a deeper reason to all of this.

This isn’t where I trot out the tired “He is the Reason for the Season.”

He is. And most of us acknowledge that.

But He is also the motivation for the season.

And this year in particular, He had given me so much.

He has worked miracles in my home, my children, my marriage, my finances, my church …

He worked year-round miracles . Miracles of hope and healing, “far as the curse is found.”

“Repeat the sounding joy”, indeed!

I’m not finished Christmas-ing because I’m not done contemplating all He has done for me.

And I can’t help but want to help others find the peace that He has brought me as well.

On a more practical note, Will I be pulling my hair out when I’m back in the thick of homeschooling and running children places and still have to take down my tree on January 6th? Only time will tell. 😉

Your turn! What have you learned this Christmas season? Funny or serious , sentimental or sacred or none of the above. Feel free to comment below, or if you’re more comfortable with journaling about it, then I would like to encourage you to take a few moments to do so.