quiet time for modern moms

prayer journal The notion of quiet time and keeping a prayer journal give people like me the jitters. 

When someone says something virtuous about quiet time and a prayer journal, it makes me feel….

GUILTY. Down right guilty. I feel like there is something wrong with me that I can’t enjoy this important habit of spiritual closeness with God.

What have I done to turn the guilt around? As in most things, I have accepted that God just made me differently than all of the spiritually virtuous people that can pray and read the Bible silently for hours. He has led me to find unique ways to spend time with Him that are more in tune with my God-given personality.

Here’s a few:

1. Quiet time doesn’t HAVE to be quiet:

This is where music, podcasts of favorite speakers and priests, and even YouTube Videos of commentaries on scripture come in. Auditory learners like me is that we will continue to hear the message that we experienced all through the day. This has become part of my wake time and bedtime routines over the years.

2. Quiet time doesn’t HAVE to involve a paperback version of the Bible or even paper for that matter. 

I am in love with The Homemaker’s Quiet Time Journal, by Chrystal Brothers (affiliate). I have it downloaded onto my computer as a PDF.

Here’s the crazy thing: this is how you can use your computer as your prayer journal.

It’s a PDF that can be edited by activating the Markup Toolbar which looks like this in Preview:

graphic of screenshoot for homemaker's

In her pre-formatted prayer journal pages, I can type right on the lines! I can flip to where I am reading in Bible Gateway and copy and paste scripture. Then, I can reflect and refer back to it the next day.

3. Quiet time doesn’t HAVE to take hours to be an effective tool in staying close to God. 

I have personally found that I love to take advantage of the ancient practice of the Liturgy of the Hours as  recommended by St. Benedict. They just make more sense to me — small, focused amounts of prayer peppered throughout the day.

To simplify it greatly, every three hours after rising, say a prayer. In the morning, mid-morning, noon, mid-afternoon, evening and bedtime. Monks even wake up in the middle of the night to pray sometimes!

For all of us moms out there, especially ones feeding infants, they will naturally put you on such a schedule so it’s nice to remind yourself to have your prayer journal handy to remind you of your intentions. And yes, monks have nothing on us getting up in the middle of the night. But it can be an opportunity to pray — for more sleep, as it were! 

Whew!

Do you want to learn more about transforming your quiet time as a mom?

You’ll find it in the ebook (affiliate),  The Homemaker’s Quiet Time Journal, by Chrystal Brothers by Chrystal Brothers. This great ebook addresses how to approach quiet time in a more mom-friendly way that allows God to enter into all of our “to do”s.

This awesome ebook is part of this year’s Ultimate Homemaking Bundle (affiliate) — a collection of more than 100 ebooks, ecourses and bundles.

 The sale ends Monday, April 27th at 11:59 PM!

Kathy Helgemo

 

 

* Mothering From Scratch is an affiliate for the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. We receive a percentage of all sales that originate from our blog and social media channels. Click here to see our full disclosure.

what’s at the heart of mom anger?

mom angerI never thought of myself as an angry person.

In fact, if anyone was a “nice girl” it was yours truly. A people-pleasing, don’t rock the boat, smile-always-on-my-face nice girl.

Everyone said so. I took pride in my desire to make everyone happy (even though I never achieved that.)

And then I became a mother.

As my oldest hit the toddler years, I transformed into someone I didn’t recognize. I was angry — most of the time.

I didn’t often look angry. But there it was — my anger, thinly disguised behind a weak smile, ready to burst on the scene in unannounced, ugly fashion.

It was my children’s fault, you know. If only they would behave better. If only they would be less demanding. If only they weren’t so strong-willed.

I wasn’t the problem. They were.

As my kids grew older, my anger began to take a toll on our relationships. It began to chip away at my integrity. I remember one particularly humbling moment when my daughter was in 7th grade. This was a particularly rocky time in our relationship. We were at church. Our pastor’s wife came up to chat with us. She looked at Molly and said, “You have such a great mother. She is just so nice.” Without missing a beat, my daughter replied, “Oh, she seems nice. But you ought to see her at home sometimes.”

Kids are smart. Who I was in public didn’t always match who I was in private. And they knew it. And they didn’t respect that.

Maybe it wasn’t them. Maybe it was me.

I had to come face-to-face with a HARD truth: “A good man produces good out of the good storeroom of his heart. An evil man produces evil out of the evil storeroom, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.” (italics mine) Luke 6:45

My mom anger wasn’t a mouth issue. It was a heart issue. What was in my heart that prompted evil to come out of my mouth? How is God repairing it (it’s an ongoing process, ya know)?

Heart Issue #1: I was spiritually apathetic.

Yes, I was always a “good girl,” but I didn’t have a healthy, active relationship with God. In college, I didn’t go to church for three years. I was devastated when a boyfriend broke up with me because I wasn’t “spiritual enough.”

I eventually tried again – to go to church. To be a good Christian girl. In my mid-twenties, I remember standing in church, singing the songs, going through the motions, but feeling empty.

I prayed this prayer: God, I feel cold. If I’m going to keep doing this, you are going to make yourself real to me.

Heart Repair: I developed an authentic relationship with Jesus. 

Motherhood exposed just how weak and rotten I was. Driven by my own selfish nature and limitations, I quickly realized I was going to screw this mom thing up. Big time.

I needed Someone bigger, stronger and infinitely more loving than I was to guide me and give me the strength, wisdom and sacrificial heart I needed to raise my children. I needed Him to fill me up when my energy and patience began to run dry.

Motherhood shattered my “religion.” I needed Jesus – a real, vibrant, I-need-You-every-second-of-every-day relationship with a personal God. Becoming a mom has brought me closer and closer to the foot of the cross, clinging to Him for insight, patience, courage and wisdom.

He always delivers.

Heart Issue #2: I was insecure.

For most of my life so much of my identity has been wrapped up in my performance. Motherhood severely tested my image. I could control my own behavior, but I couldn’t always control theirs.

I wanted my children to behave. I wanted them to make me look good and feel good about myself.

When they didn’t, after I had tried so hard to please them, it made me angry. They threatened my “image.” They disturbed the outer and inner peace I fought so hard to construct … and I resented it.

Heart Repair: I became secure in who God made me.

As God nudged me out of my spiritual apathy, I began to internalize this life-changing Truth: God didn’t just love the world. He loved ME — Melinda. Not because of anything I did or didn’t do. But because He made me. He knows me more completely than anyone else.

My worth didn’t have to be tied to my performance or my children’s. This epiphany changed everything. But then I’d wake up and forget it. I still do! Everyday, I have to consciously remember that what He says about me is all that counts.

Heart Issue #3: My kids’ approval was too important to me. 

I resented my kids when they didn’t behave, but really I was mad at myself because I wasn’t strong enough to set consistent boundaries. I wanted them to like me. Ironically, the lack of boundaries strained our relationship more than anything else. They didn’t seem to like me or respect me.

The older my kids got, the we all paid a high price for the lack of boundaries.

This came into full bloom in the middle school years. All that “pleasing” blew up in my face.

Heart Repair: God helped me to become more concerned with their well-being than their approval. 

As I began to truly understand that God gave me my worth, not my children, He freed me from my selfish motives and gave me the courage to do what was right for my children. I was motivated by love for them instead of expecting them to fill a need they were never designed to fill.

Being unpopular with my children still makes me squirm. Approval-seeking tendencies die hard. Yet I know making the hard choices is in their best interest. And that motivates me to lay aside my own interests — as uncomfortable as that feels.

I knew motherhood would expand my heart in amazing ways. What I wasn’t prepared for was how fully it would expose it to the evil things that lurked there.

Your heart may have different issues, Mom. Seek Him. He’ll lovingly uncover the things that are cluttering your heart and stealing your joy. 

And you’ll find that placing it in the hands of the One who created it makes all the difference.  

The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle (below) is an affiliate.

Ultimate Bundle

* Mothering From Scratch is an affiliate for the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. We receive a percentage of all sales that originate from the links on our blog and social media channels. Click here to see our full disclosure.

how to let go of control issues

letting goI still have out of control dreams (nightmares) about high school. The homework, the tests, the social situations — the locker that I can’t seem to remember the combination to 25 years later.

And how about the lunch room? It was like anxiety contained within walls that smelled of frozen pizza and spoiled milk.

Who to sit with? Who to talk to?

Who will sit with me? Who will talk to me? Awful, really.

When polled, I’m pretty certain my high school friends and current friends would say that I’m a confident person. I was just having a conversation with a couple of moms of my daughters’ friends and they had a much higher opinion about me than I had about myself.

They see me as comfortable in my own skin, able to (apparently) solve problems on the spot and assert myself in situations where needed. What they didn’t understand is that most of the time I did those things because of control issues. I wanted it done a certain way. I wanted to make sure it’s done well. I couldn’t let go and let someone else take care of it. It makes me….

…..very uncomfortable.

I have learned over the years that it is precisely in this level of uncomfortableness that God moves mountains in my heart. It enables me to loosen the reigns of control over my life. My heartstrings can be strummed by The Almighty only when they aren’t held so darn tight. He is able to shape and mold me only when I allow my pliability to enter His loving hands and let go.

Here’s some of the beauty that comes from giving up control:

1. I can relax. When the fibers of my being are more pliable, I exhale. I breathe more deeply, taking in what God has to offer in my life.

2. I can reflect. When I take a couple steps back at look at what’s happening around me, I see things that God is trying to reveal. The slowing down and giving up of my time and energy allows His will to surface and become obvious.

3. I can respond. When I get still for a few moments, I can have more energy to respond better and more appropriately.

Being comfortable in your own skin comes down to understanding how and WHY God may have given you certain gifts and talents.

I read recently in the great ebook On The Road To Joyful Mothering: 31 Meditations to Help You Enjoy the Ride, by Jessica Fisher, that

This is what control issues can be rooted in also —- the great thief of comparison. The one who steals our joy and makes us believe that if we only were like others, we would be happier, our families would be better and our lives would run smoother.

That’s the good news about celebrating the goodness of God’s unique design of us and losing control in a most positive way.

Kathy Helgemo

Do you want to learn more about letting go of control and embracing your unique self?

You’ll find it in the ebook (affiliate) On The Road To Joyful Mothering: 31 Meditations to Help You Enjoy the Ride, by J. Fisher. This great ebook addresses how to handle acceptance of who we are in Christ and how to allow Him to take control of our lives as moms.

This awesome ebook is part of this year’s Ultimate Homemaking Bundle (affiliate) — a collection of more than 100 ebooks, ecourses and bundles.

 The sale ends Monday, April 27th at 11:59 PM!

 

* Mothering From Scratch is an affiliate for the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. We receive a percentage of all sales that originate from our blog and social media channels. Click here to see our full disclosure.

 

 

4 simple choices that turn around a bad morning

bad morningI am not a morning person. In fact, I think the person who invented the phrase, “Good morning!” was seriously delusional.

My children are not morning people either.

Since my firstborn started preschool, mornings have been the thorn in my side. We’ve all come a long way over the years, but mornings still aren’t completely blissful. And my oldest is now 18. Sigh.

Some of my biggest regrets as a mom are the words I’ve spoken in anger and frustration as I’ve tried to forklift my children out the door.

So why should you listen to anything I have to say, right? Well, I may not be an expert at always starting the day right, but I have quite a bit of experience in how to turn around a bad day.

See if this scenario sounds familiar:

The kids stumble out of bed late, after repeated prodding. You’ve set consequences, but they don’t seem to be having the desired effect. The clock is ticking and your children are moving like their feet are trapped in cement.

You’ve spew out angry words. They shoot back with excuses and frustration. Finally, everyone is in the car. The “conversation” continues until there’s nothing left to say. You sit in stony silence on the way to school.

That’s when it hits you. That awful feeling in the pit of your stomach. How did you get here? This isn’t the kind of mother you wanted to be. This isn’t how you want to send your children off to tackle their day.

We can’t take back the angry words we’ve spoken. We can’t make our child sorry for the way they behaved. We can’t rewind the clock and start over.

So, what do we do? All we can do is start right where we are and make different choices. These choices are simple, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy. Yet, they make all the difference.

Choice #1: Pray. I can’t get my heart and attitude in the right place until I’ve asked God for forgiveness first. He gives me the ability to let go of my frustration and make things right with my children.

Choice #2: Be the first to say “I’m sorry.” I’ve been known to stubbornly think, “I shouldn’t have to apologize first. They started it.” Yes, I’ve been known to think like an eight-year-old. As the parent, I set the example. I can only take responsibility for my actions and behavior. By being quick to ask for forgiveness, it encourages them to do the same.

Choice #3: Accept their apology. Soften your tone. Change your demeanor. Merely saying “I’m sorry” is not enough. Neither is saying “I forgive you.” Actions and tone reflect whether we really mean what we say. That’s why it’s so important to start with Choice #1. Once we’ve asked for forgiveness and offered it to our kids, we need to let it go. That means changing the subject, changing our tone and moving on. I’ve found that a little humor can lighten the mood. For me, this is the toughest choice, but it makes all the difference.

Choice #4: Accept God’s grace. It’s there for the taking! One of my favorite verses is Lamentations 3:23: “His mercies are new every morning.” When we humbly come to Him, He is quick to forgive our offenses. We don’t have to carry them with us throughout the day. They don’t have to weigh us down and keep us feeling guilty and inadequate.

These four choices can bring us to place where we can objectively look at what went wrong that morning. How can we do things differently tomorrow? Do we need to set new, more effective consequences? Get up earlier? (that made a huge difference in my house) Plan better the night before? All three?

If you’re anything like me and my kids who fall into the “non-morning people” camp, getting the day started right is going to be an ongoing battle. But a bad start doesn’t have to made a bad day.

It’s our choice.

Melinda Means

Want to learn more about transforming the messiness of motherhood? 

You’ll find lots of great wisdom in the ebook (affiliate), The Steady Mom’s Freedom Guide: Joyful Motherhood on Your Own Terms by Jamie C. Martin. It addresses how to handle those difficult day-to-day decisions. It also show us how to be kind to ourselves in the midst of stress, as well as how to lighten up and view our kids through eyes of grace.

This awesome ebook is part of this year’s Ultimate Homemaking Bundle (affiliate) — a collection of more than 100 ebooks, ecourses and bundles.

 The sale ends Monday, April 27th at 11:59 PM!

Melinda Means

 

 

* Mothering From Scratch is an affiliate for the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. We receive a percentage of all sales that originate from our blog and social media channels. Click here to see our full disclosure.