May 6, 2016

Mama Revival Stages Series - High Schoolers





A High Schooler’s Mom



I packed her lunch just as I do most mornings. A dry turkey and cheese sandwich, chip crumbs from the bottom of the bag (oops, I should have gone to the store yesterday) and some fresh mixed berries. I’m grateful she’s not picky. “Do you need a fork?” I asked. She told me “no” and that she could eat the berries with her fingers.


She offered a limp hug as I handed off her sandwich like a baton in a race that seemed impossible to win. She was tired. Not the usual “teenager” tired. It was the tired of a determined child fighting her way to the finish line of becoming an adult.


She walked out the door at Dark:30 and got in her car. I locked the front door from the inside and watched the taillights disappear. She was off for another day at school. Some days I feel like I’m feeding her to the wolves and some days I feel like she’s there to tame them. I wonder for a minute if it’s harder to be a 17-year-old or to be the 17-year-old’s mom… for, now, I know both.


I haven’t yet made up my mind.


Andrea Stunz writes at www.emptyplatefullheart.com and is stumbling pilgrim in need of coffee, another sunrise and all the grace.



THE BEST INVESTMENT


Take a deep breath.

For many years, that was my best parenting advice for moms of teens. Just relax, I’d say. It is going to be okay.

I have changed my mind. No longer am I encouraging the bare minimum of survival of teenagerdom, because it turns out people survive at levels I grieve. Teen life today is scarier than just a decade ago. Now my one word for those trudging the forest between adolescence and adulthood is this:

INVEST.

Actively, thoughtfully, purposefully invest in your kids. Don’t just work on habits for today, work toward the adults you want them to be.


You want them to know Jesus? Spend time with Him together.

You want them to be generous? Serve together. Let them see you serving in something that fills you.

You want them to connect with people? Have their friends over. Read books and watch movies (side by side) that give the opportunity to examine relationships from many angles.

STOP WAITING FOR SOMEONE ELSE. Even when they don’t want to, the responsibility is yours. It cannot be done well without a sizable chunk of your time, energy and money. You can do it. You may need to take many deep breaths along the way, but make investing your priority.

Robin Lee is the wife of an airplane part inventing, manufactured home selling husband who keeps her in stitches and mom to three preciously unique kids who keep her on her knees. She loves teaching Bible Study and planning ministry projects. You can read more at brightenacorner.com and robins-corner.com.




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Apr 25, 2016

Mama Revival Stages Series - Middle School



Enjoy this guest post series for every stage along the journey of motherhood. This wonderful compilation was made possible from my loving, supportive group of friends in the blogosphere!




Encouraging Middle School Mamas

The dreaded middle school years. It has been over 25 years since I have been a  middle school student, but I still distinctly remember navigating those drama-filled halls. Now I have helped two of my three children navigate their own middle school experience. My oldest, a girl, hated middle school. However, she has flourished in high school. Now my middle child, a boy, is in the middle of middle school.
I would like to tell you that having a boy tween is less dramatic than having a girl tween. However, boys have their own set of personal drama. Whether you are stuck in the middle of boy or girl middle school drama, I want to share with you some of the best middle school advice I have ever heard.
It is from Jen Hatmaker and it is simply this, “Bye Felicia.”
On a video released during the launch of her book, For the Love, Jen discussed these people that live in our houses. She shared sage advice with us mamas about our precious drama queens and kings. Don’t go on the emotional rollercoaster with them, she advised. Just say, “Bye Felicia. See you when you get back.” We can usually tell when our sweet ones are about to take a ride on the crazy coaster. As much as we want to either fix the problem right then or show them the way they should be acting, they cannot hear us when they have gone on that rollercoaster ride. As Jen advised, you stay on the platform and you can talk when they get back.
This is some of the best advice I have ever heard for dealing with the wild ups-and-downs of your average tween. Most of the time when I see one of our kids is taking a ride on the crazy coaster, I send them to their room so they can have some time (and the rest of us can have some time as well.) Usually, they will come out in less than half an hour, calmer and ready to talk or deal with whatever the problem is. If they were in trouble, they are usually contrite and can move on with their day.
So dear mama of a middle schooler, try to take this advice to heart and put it into practice. If you are like me, it is hard not to correct them immediately or fix the problem right away. But wait. Give it some time. As hard as it can be, wait until they are at a point when they are listening and can hear you.
While you are standing on the platform waiting for your sweet child to come back, know you are not alone, this too shall pass, and maybe give yourself a time out with some dark chocolate and a book.


Dana Herndon is a writer and blogger as well as an elementary and middle school teacher. She and her husband live in Georgia with their three children. In addition to teaching and writing, Dana loves to read, watch Food Network and HGTV, follow politics, and paddleboard. She blogs at danaherndon.com.



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Apr 19, 2016

Mama Revival Stages Series - Elementary





Enjoy this guest post series for every stage along the journey of motherhood. This wonderful compilation was made possible from my loving, supportive group of friends in the blogosphere!




To the Moms of Elementary-Aged Children


I have four kids, and I honestly never thought I would get past the baby, then the toddler, and then the preschool years. My fourth was born when my oldest was only 5 ½ years old. As time would have it, though, they have all grown, and they have all progressed to the next stage. My youngest is now four, and my oldest will be ten in a few months. The oldest three are elementary-school age. It's hard to believe that there are no more babies, no more diapers, and no more pacifiers in my home. My youngest doesn't even want to eat with the IKEA plastic utensils anymore. He wants to be like his older brother and sisters.  

Moms of elementary-age children, just as the time quickly passed from them being babies and toddlers, this stage, will pass too. When you don't think you can sit through one more phonics reader book without falling asleep, embrace it. Before you know it they will be reading chapter books on their own. When you are tucking them in and scratching their backs after a long day, savor it. Pretty soon they will tell you they are too old for you to do that. And when you daydream about your house not being so "noisy" when they are a little bit older--realize there will come a time when you think your house is too quiet.  

Moms, I am not sure if there is one stage that is easier or harder than the others. I think they all have their challenges, and they all have moments to cherish. I am just thankful that I am finally getting a full night sleep these days. Amen?






Heather is a Stay-At-Home/Homeschooling-Mom of 4. She is a Jersey Girl at heart but has lived in Michigan for the last 11 years with her husband Jeff and their kids.  Heather enjoys reading, drinking coffee, worshipping and writing.  She is passionate about her family and living this life, which God has blessed her with, to the full.  You can find her at www.heathergerwing.com.









The Most Important Thing in the Equation


Elementary school = homework + extra-curricular activities + reasonable bedtimes + appropriate hygiene + classroom activities + adequate nutrition + teamwork.

Anyone else see what I see? Routines, permission slips, laundry, meals, chores, taxi-service, the list goes on.

Sometimes, as moms, we can get so caught up in the drudgery of it all that we can lose sight of the most important thing in the above equation: the kids.

Just this morning, I told my husband that yes, it is nice to get everything checked off the ‘to-do’ list, but if we do it at the expense of our kids’, then what is the true advantage? If our kids feel like nothing more than a cog in a wheel, the cost is far greater than not getting stuff done.

We, as mothers, can do this. We can rally around one another to be a community of encouragers. We can navigate our way through the intricacies of this crucial time in the lives of our children. We just have to remember not to lose sight of the forest for the trees. We must parent with the end in mind.



Michelle Nehrig-Shultheis is a daughter of the King of Kings. She loves Jesus, her husband, and their family, which includes her two biological children, Emma and Elijah, and her step-daughter, Madisyn. You can find her thoughts, life-lessons, and sometimes comical adventures with her animals at: beauty in between.



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Apr 11, 2016

Mama Revival Stages Series - Preschool

Mama Revival Stages Series



Enjoy this guest post series for every stage along the journey of motherhood. This wonderful compilation was made possible from my loving, supportive group of friends in the blogosphere!



Embracing the Mess

I have one word to describe motherhood in the preschool years: messy.

I never knew how many surfaces in our house could be dirty at once. Snotty cheeks and hair, pee-soaked sheets, dried out playdough and lidless markers fill my home with never-ending chores. My ever-helpful dogs offer their assistance cleaning sticky, crumb-filled tables and tile floors. I'm learning to embrace these moments of messiness and worry about cleaning up later because I know I won't get a redo with my girls. These are the years they need to learn that it's okay to make messes and mistakes. These are the years they need to learn to be kind and gracious and generous to themselves and others. These are the years that form the foundation for their personality and code of ethics. Our preschoolers are truly works in progress, looking to us daily for the understanding, encouragement and correction we seek from the Father. May we accept and love them in their messiness just as He accepts and loves us in ours.

Lauren Flake


Lauren Flake is a children's book author, 
wife and mom to two preschool-age daughters 
in her native Austin, Texas, at laurenflake.com.





Three Tips for Christian Parenting a Preschooler

End the day together with Jesus.

The Jesus Storybook Bible ends our nights. Sure, there are a few stories we skip (our 3-year old is not quite ready for Abraham sacrificing Isaac yet!), but snuggling up to focus on a story that frames Jesus as the Great Rescuer is an incredible end to even tough days. We read, we snuggle, we ask our son what he'd like to thank God for, and then we sing the doxology ("Praise God from whom all blessings flow..."). These quiet moments orient our day, ending it with gratitude.

Lead by Example

My son keeps me honest when someone cuts me off in traffic. "Mommy, that's not kind." He is always watching, listening, and emulating. I stood in a worship service a month ago and raised my hands during a song only to find him raising his hands, too. Kids learn to give and serve and pray and worship and follow Jesus by watching us. What an honor, and what a huge responsibility!

Apologize Often

Yet we are far from perfect. I'll never forget the day our husband dropped a glass in the kitchen. It shattered and he cried out in surprise. Our son burst into tears, thinking Daddy was yelling at him. Lincoln's startled cry led to twenty minutes of snuggling on the couch where Daddy apologized for the loud sound and explained that he was startled, not angry. Our apologies teach our children that none of us are perfect, and when we sin we can have confidence of God’s forgiveness.



Courtney Ellis



Courtney Ellis is Associate Pastor for Spiritual Formation 
at Presbyterian Church of the Master in Mission Viejo, California. 
She and her husband Daryl have a 3 ½ year old son and a baby due any day.







Read it Again, Mommy

My kids have loved books since they were able to hold her head steady enough to focus on a page. I usually let them choose our bedtime story. During the preschool years, they tend to pick the same book every night. My first-born asked me to read The Polar Express until the pages started to fall out. My middle child chose the book rendition of the Disney movie, Hercules. Now, seven years later, we are in that stage again. My little boy chooses the same books every night. I get so tired of reading about Thomas the Train's race and counting the same chicks every night in his farm book.

Having a seven-year gap between the older and younger kids gives me some perspective. I don't remember much from those preschool years. I remember not sleeping and feeling out of sorts. But I also remember reading The Polar Express and Hercules. I remember the warmth of their body in my lap. I remember the smell of baby shampoo drifting up from their soft heads as we read the same books again and again.

Repetition builds memories. When you are in the middle of those hard raising babies years, you need the repetition to help you remember. So, read it again, Mommy! Read and remember.



Kelly Smith


Kelly Smith is a disciple of Christ, wife to David, 
and mother of three, writing about it all at MrsDisciple.com.









Photo credit: Paige Marie via Unsplash.




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Apr 3, 2016

Mama Revival Stages Series - Babies

Mama Revival Stages Series


Enjoy this guest post series for every stage along the journey of motherhood. This wonderful compilation was made possible from my loving, supportive group of friends in the blogosphere!



To the Feeding Momma

Hi, Momma. Yes, you. The one with spit up on her shirt, and an extra twenty pounds hanging around her middle. I see you— I was you.

I know you’re tired from caring for your new little one. You sacrifice precious sleep, energy, and even your own body to feed the little one who so desperately needs you. I know what it’s like to fall asleep while nursing, and to accidentally heat a bottle a little too hot in the middle of the night.

But I have some good news for you!

The newborn who relies on you for every. single. drop of nutrients will one day grow tall and lanky—able to reach the stove. And when that baby, who is now half-grown, proudly hands you a plate of scrambled eggs she cooked herself, you get a glimpse of the fruits of your labor. You get to see your tiny being “become.”

I know your exhaustion. The desire to feel more like you, and less like an open bar. Take heart in knowing your hard work will pay off. Keep going, Momma! One day, the baby you’re feeding now may surprise you with an omelet in bed!

Becky Yurisich

Becky Yurisich is an Army Wife, a mother of three, 
and an unapologetic UNC Tar Heel. 
Her blog can be found at www.beckyyurisich.com.









The Lord Your God is with You

The LORD your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.
(Zeph. 3:17, ESV)

This is my anthem over my baby. Our God is a personal God, a relational God, and He is here for YOU, sweet mama, and that precious baby of yours! When you are in the thick of scheduled feedings, naps, and diaper changes and it seems that it might never end, have hope! Everything is but a season.

So often I find myself reciting Zephaniah 3:17, not just for my daughter that wakes in the middle of the night, but more so for myself. The Creator of the Universe rejoices over me, this messy mama that doesn’t have everything together. He quiets my anxious heart with His love. He delights in the job I’m doing in caring for the child He entrusted me. He is with me always and saves this sleep-deprived soul. These are the truths I cling to when the days seem long and I’m reminded that my time with her is short. May they wash you with encouragement, comfort, and peace!

LaRae Humes


LaRae Humes is a lover of Jesus and the outdoors and enjoys 
being a wife and first-time mama. 
Join her on the journey as she blogs as laraehumes.blogspot.com.










Grace in the Hard Places

I was about as inexperienced as a new mom could be when I had my first child. I am an only child and I never babysat babies. When I was 34 years old, my daughter’s was the first diaper I had ever changed! So to say I had a steep learning curve would be an understatement. I was utterly overwhelmed when we brought that little pink bundle home and it was one of the scariest times of my life. I had friends and family around to help and speak into my life, but no one could have prepared me for the enormity of this transition.
In hindsight, I can say that my first “baby stage” was the hardest experience of my life. Do you want to know what got me through it all?

Grace.

We cannot allow our inner self-critics or the words we read on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest lull us into believing that we can’t do this, that we are not enough and that God somehow made a mistake. Because the truth is that God creates life. He decides who will be born when and to whom and despite the illusions of control we may have, in reality...

God is in control.

I am not alone.

And God is enough.

Annie Laurie Walters


AnnieLaurie is a pastor’s wife and mother to three, 
blogging about her love for food and Jesus at annielauriewalters.com







Photo credit: Sarah Graybeal via Unsplash.















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