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The Introverted Stay-at-Home Mom: Uniquely Challenged and Abundantly Blessed

girl-by-lake

Dear grocery store clerk,
I’d like to apologize. I’ve been avoiding you. You offer to take my groceries to the car and I turn you down. You try to get my attention in the parking lot to take my cart back and I pretend I don’t see you.

Dear friend,
I’d like to apologize. I’ve been avoiding you. I have waited too long to return your phone calls or I haven’t returned them at all.

Dear sweet children of mine,
I’d like to apologize. I’ve been avoiding you. I have reached my socialization quota for the day. Instead of finding a quiet space, I had a meltdown.

Dear passenger,
I’d like to apologize. I’ve been avoiding you. I spent 45 minutes serving drinks and food to you. I socialized with you. I laughed at your jokes and made a few of my own. I engaged your children. I was warm, friendly, and accommodating. But I reached my limit and needed to go hide in the galley for a few minutes so that I could recharge my batteries.

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Posted by on August 17, 2014 in Parenting

 

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Hurricane Martha and Me

Hurrican Flickr

Today was one of those days that if I wasn’t looking for a muzzle to put on my mouth to prevent me from saying (or yelling) something stupid, I was looking for my foot to put it in afterwards.

Everything my kids were doing or saying seemed to get on my nerves.

Today was one of those days where my best just wasn’t good enough, and where my to-do list seemed to have a hole in it.

Today was one of those days that I spent hours doing backbreaking cleaning work in the house, yet it looked like I did nothing at all.

Today was one of those days that I felt as in one of those dreams where you try to run and it’s like running underwater.  I seemed not to have any grace to look at a messy house and be okay with it.

I know that while my kids are little, I sometimes have to choose between having happy kids or a clean house.

My husband graciously spent much of the day caring for the kids while I meticulously cleaned the baseboards around the house of dust that has accumulated during our two years tenure here.

I worked hard all day on it, taking short breaks in between rooms. When it was time to do the last (and dirtiest) room, I had to give up and give in. I was too tired to go on.

I am that person who has a hard time starting a project and leaving it unfinished. I have a hard time letting go when it’s time to let go.

You could say that of Mary and Martha, I am Martha. A friend recently related on her blog that what God showed her about Martha was that what she was doing was not wrong, but rather when she was doing it.

My kids were playing in the living room all day with some fun toys that their cousins gave them the day before at our family’s 4th of July gathering. I really did not want to stop my massive cleaning project to play ball with them.

Playing with little kids all day does not come naturally to me. I enjoy it in small spurts. My mind was preoccupied with cleaning; however, I did stop what I was doing a few times to spend that time with them.

It wasn’t the same thing as spending time at Jesus’ feet; however, it was time to be His hands and His feet.

After throwing in the cleaning towel, I stopped to rest and watch the World Cup game with my husband while the kids played. As the game went into extra time, it was time to get ready to go to church.

Our pastor spoke on adversity tonight. He spoke about what happens when there is a major hurricane in our lives. He said we have two choices. We can lengthen that hurricane by drowning ourselves in self-pity, or we can shorten it by asking the Lord to use that hurricane to draw us closer to Him.

We have been going through a Category 5 lately and I have felt myself really struggling to have faith during this time.

I was meditating on Hebrews 11:1 last night:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.
(NKJV)

I have read or heard this verse hundreds of times during my Christian walk. However, last night the “things not seen” part of the verse particularly struck me.

I had always interpreted this verse to mean we need to have hope that the future will bring us better things.  However, things not seen does not talk about the future. It talks about what presently exists but we are blind to.

What that meant for me is that faith is evidence of truths we are not presently able to see.

The enemy works primarily in our minds, trying to lie to us about our life. I need faith to have my eyes opened to all of God’s truth about my life.

My prayer tonight is that God would open my eyes to see the beautiful truths that I have been unable to see in my present situation.

I pray the same prayer for you tonight, friend.

July 6, 2014 Update:

I found the following scripture verse this morning that expounds on the verse on faith a bit:

1 Corinthians 4:17: Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting. (NKJV)

Therefore that which is unseen is deathless and everlasting. This verse makes me hunger even more for my eyes to be opened to that which is unseen!

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Image: Hurricane Jeanne; Courtesy Kakela Flckr

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2014 in Parenting

 

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If it was easy, everyone would do it

Mimi boat

I always dreamt of being a stay-at-home mom. For as long as I can remember, I hoped and imagined that when I had kids someday, I would be home to take care of them rather than working.

I admit that I even judged some moms who worked rather than staying at home. I was convinced that they could make it work financially if it really mattered to them. I especially didn’t understand those moms that chose to work when they didn’t have to.

Although I had this dream for years of staying home with my kids, I did not realize how unprepared I was for it or how much my life would change.

The women who were the closest role models in my life had all been career women. I was raised by a single, working mom. The only grandmother I ever knew had been a career woman her whole life. She never raised children. She became a grandmother through marriage. (She was an awesome one, by the way and I miss her dearly. She is the woman pictured above traveling around the world in the 1950s.)

I started my first job when I was 14. By the time I got pregnant with my first child, I was well educated, well traveled, and well experienced. I had held a variety of exciting jobs working for globally recognized companies in my city. I had also spent a year in another country as a missionary.

What no one ever told me was that wanting to be a stay-at-home mom and preparing to be one are different things. Almost nothing I had done in my career “qualified” me for this position. I was totally inexperienced at this thing of making a home and raising a child.

I went through a very difficult adjustment period during which there were many days I wanted to cry and scream. The loneliness, lack of mental stimulation, and boredom seemed too much to handle at times.

I recognize that my situation is unique. I was able to stay home with both my kids for the first six months of their life. After that, I went back to my job as a flight attendant; however, I work part-time so I spend many days with them during the month.

Today was one of those days that I wanted to cry and scream. I have been off for ten days because of vacation on my schedule. I admit I am spoiled in that I get opportunities to travel several times a month. However, more times than not, these opportunities are not vacations for me. I work very hard at my job and oftentimes make sacrifices about the types of trips I fly in order to spend more time at home with my family. When I do get longer trips with great layovers in exciting cities, I enjoy it in the beginning but soon find myself very homesick. I usually come home from work exhausted and needing more time to recover than I get before jumping back into the stay-at-home routine again.

My adventure begins again tomorrow as I head out for 10 days in a row of trips.  This sacrifice I make in order to have the 4th of July holiday off to be with my family.

Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, working mom, work-at-home mom, or some combination of these, you have great challenges and make great sacrifices. My hat is off to you tonight, whatever type of mom or dad you are.

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Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Parenting

 

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Confessions of a (sometimes) stay-at-home mom

 

 

woman praying

Today was a tough day. One of those days that tests you in every way.

I woke up with a sore throat that continued all day along with a general malaise.

I recently began staying at home with both my kids on my off days. I have found incredible grace to do this and praying on the armor of God everyday has helped tremendously.

I reached a point of frustration today though. I realized that I hadn’t had time to open the mail in five days. I hadn’t had time to make a phone call, do our budget, or other administrative things necessary in our house.

In case you haven’t met me, I am that perfectionist mom. Everything has to be done right and done on time.

My daughter is no longer in school and my kids no longer have to go to a sitter each day now that my health has improved. That means less time to handle business that needs doing around the house. I was in a quandary this morning about how to handle this.

I decided I would let me kids sit on my bed while they watched a TV show on my laptop. I set everything up, with big fluffy pillows for them to lean against and asked them not to touch the computer.

I then began to use the time to make those phone calls I needed to make, open the mail, read my email, etc.

Then all of a sudden Bang!

I went into my bedroom to see my laptop on the floor and my daughter informing me that my two year-old son had managed to throw the computer on the floor. Fortunately it still worked just fine (I’m using it now), however part of a corner was cracked and the screen was separated a little bit from the cover.

I immediately shut the computer and ordered the kids to go play in my daughter’s room. I made it clear there would be no TV since my computer had gotten broken. My son went to time out for his part in the fiasco.

I could tell by his face that he knew he had done something wrong. I told him he could get out of time out and go play. He went to the other side of the house, then turned around and came back to give me an apologetic hug.

I continued making my phone calls; however I was interrupted by the sound of my kids screaming at each other at the top of their lungs. They were fighting about something. I got off my phone call and stormed back to where they were playing. I ordered each of them to go to their respective rooms. They both started crying. I went to my room on the other side of the house and broke down crying.

I cried and I cried out to God. These were not faith-filled words or praises. It was gut wrenching and honest about how hard I sometimes find life to be as a stay-at-home mom. I cried out to God about not being able to open the mail and about not being able to have a peaceful phone call.

I felt somewhat defeated the rest of the day and a little sad. Sad because I had once again failed to live up to my own expectations.

I was able to show myself a little mercy as it got later in the day and I realized that a number of factors were working against me. I was both sick and hormonal at the same time. Not to mention still learning how to juggle this thing of staying home with my kids.

As the day went by, I pondered how I could explain to my two year-old that I forgave him. He doesn’t understand what the word “forgive” means. I felt it was very important for him to know that even though I was mad about what happened, I forgave him and we were okay. I sat him down and told him I wanted to talk to him about the computer. I told him that I knew he didn’t mean to break it and that it was okay.

I managed to muster the strength to head to the grocery store to get a few urgent items we needed. While I was there, I saw a Facebook post by Lysa TerKeurst:

Lysa TerKeurst

I got teary-eyed in the grocery store because it was just what I needed to hear.

It was a reminder that despite all my imperfections, God chose me to be my kids’ mom.

What an awesome privilege.

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2014 in Parenting

 

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Does God speak through your children?

Fruit Loops

My two kids and I were all enjoying a bowl of fruit loops this morning. There was nothing particularly spiritual about breakfast. We had not prayed together yet as a family, nor had I had time to pray on my armor.

But as we were eating breakfast, there was something on my mind. I was thinking about how our Amazon Prime membership would be expiring at the end of the month. They raised their rates this year and it was going to be tough for us to renew. However, this is our only option for TV. We cancelled our satellite TV a couple of years ago to save money and were unsuccessful in getting an antenna to work to receive local channels.

I don’t remember if I was actually praying about this issue or if I was just thinking about it. It was very early in the morning and my brain was still not fully awake. However, as I thought about it, I had an idea. I started thinking that we could subscribe to Netflix and just pay by the month until we can renew our Prime membership.

Just after I had that thought, my daughter who had been silent for a while all of a sudden said, “But mommy, I want the red square.” The “red square” is what we click on in the menu of our Blu-ray player to access Netflix. We cancelled Netflix when we signed up for Prime but she still remembers we used to use the red square. It has been a year since we cancelled Netflix and probably months since my daughter made any reference to clicking on the “red square”.

I stared in silence and wonder for a while.

In my prayer times, I have been asking God for wisdom. And I believe He spoke clearly to me this morning about a particular issue through my daughter.

I have a friend who once told me the story about how she was driving down the road with her daughter in the car one day and was thinking to herself if she should go ahead and stop for gas or if she could make it home. At that moment, her daughter piped up and said, “Mommy, we need gas.” This girl was too young to understand this concept but God spoke through her this day as well.

God spoke to Balaam through a donkey. Why not through our children?

 
 

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Little kids…Big God

Child

Things were not going well this morning…

I was determined to pray on the armor of God. My four year-old had other plans.

I kept asking God to protect that time so I could be ready for the day.

But the drama continued. The whining. The clinginess. And crying at the drop of a hat.

My little girl was not acting like her usual chipper self.

I was getting angrier and angrier.

I finally almost blew a gasket and started stomping towards her and in the direction of her room. She burst into tears (again) and started running towards her room.

I realized in that moment that I had both scared her and hurt her feelings at the same time.

This was a teachable moment for me. I was scared of going any further with my day without praying. However, God was sending a clear message that I needed to stop and attend to my daughter.

I sat on the rocking chair in her room and held her. Her face was very unhappy.

I finally asked her, “Are you feeling grouchy today?” Her response was a sullen “yes”.

I said, “Let’s pray to Jesus about this.” Despite some reluctance, she repeated my words.

“Dear Jesus, please help me not to be grouchy. Amen.”

I saw an immediate change in her. She began to play with her little brother right away in a loving, sharing manner. Her behavior the rest of the morning was completely different.  And it was such a simple, short prayer.

I heard a preacher say years ago that God doesn’t send kids a “junior Holy Spirit”. Their God is as great big as ours is and so is their Holy Spirit.

Luke 18: 16 But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.17 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (NKJV)

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2014 in Children, Prayer

 

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Stewardess, how do I use this thing?

oxygen-mask

How many times in 14 years as a flight attendant have I listened to an actor’s voice telling my passengers traveling with small children to “put their own oxygen mask on first”?

I believe that putting on the armor of God every morning means that I am not only preparing myself spiritually to handle whatever comes at me but also preparing to be the spiritual authority with my children during the day. Jesus is my oxygen, and if I don’t allow Him as my armor bearer to place His armor on me first, I won’t be much good to my family.

However, any stay at home mom or dad of little children knows how difficult it is to find time to spend with God each day.

As I accepted the challenge to begin praying on the armor of God every day, my first thought was How?

Young children have the potential to keep you busy every minute of the day until bedtime.

I have been living with a certain amount of fear for a while. Fear of being a leader when it comes to my kids. I believe part of this is because I was raised an only child. We never had to deal with sibling rivalry or conflict in our house.

Not only are there conflicts, there is also a lot of noise and loud, rambunctious playing. My kids are good friends with each other and play together all day long.

I realized this past week that I would need to stop parenting from a place of fear and instead begin parenting from a place of leadership. Maybe kids can’t smell fear, but I believe they can sense it. I believe they know deep down when mom or dad are intimidated by them.

I mentioned in a previous post that I am learning to care for both my children on a daily basis again. After I got better from my illness, I was mostly taking care of my son on the days I was not flying while my daughter was in school. Now that it’s summertime, I have them both all day when I’m not working.

I knew that one key to our success as a family each day would be structure. Kids seem to thrive on routine. It is comforting to them because it lets them know what to expect. As my daughter likes to say “What comes next, mommy?” She likes to know what’s next on the agenda.

We don’t have a concrete schedule with precise times on the clock to do different things, however my kids know what to expect in general out of each day.

“Mission impossible” for me was to figure out a way of beginning each day praying on the armor of God. I began to add two new routines into our day and did them consistently each day. My kids and I began praying together as a family every day after breakfast. We pray over our day and pray for each person in our family.

Afterwards, I instruct them to go to the older child’s room for playtime while “mommy prays”. They know that they will not be able to come back to the living room until mommy is done. They leave the door open so I can monitor them. I take this time to pray on the armor of God. It is not as long a time as I would like it to be, however it is what I have grace for at the ages the kids are now.

My kids have come to expect this routine every day. Anything new you start may be rough the first few days, but the family will adjust with time.

I know that many moms and dads have little ones that are too young to entertain themselves yet. However, I believe there is a grace for every stage of parenthood. If you are not sure how you can fit this into your day, ask God to give you wisdom. According to James 1:5-6, He will generously give this wisdom to you if you believe He will.

My old singles pastor used to say that you have to be intentional about everything you do. If we are passive and just sit back waiting for life to happen to us, we will not achieve our goals. I have to be intentional about my prayer time every day. My kids need me to have that oxygen mask on. So does my husband.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2014 in Christian Living, Prayer

 

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