why spiritual discipline matters for mom

mom spiritual by Lindsey Bell, Regular MOMtor Contributor

A few months ago, I got out of the habit of spending time with the Lord on a daily basis. First it was just one day I missed…then two…then before I even realized what was happening, I had missed an entire week. 

Have you ever done that?

Maybe you’re too tired one day so you think to yourself, “Not reading my Bible just this once won’t hurt anything.” And you’re probably right. God is certainly not going to hold it over your head. He’s a God of grace, not a God of legalism.

On the other hand, though, maybe neglecting time with the Lord is a bigger deal than we sometimes make it.

Because at least for me, when I miss my daily time with the Lord, my entire day is thrown off. I’m much more irritable with my children, much less patient, and much more anxious and selfish.

When I neglect God, it shows.

On the other hand, when I connect myself to the vine each morning, that also shows in my behavior.

Granted, we should never view spiritual disciplines as simply self-serving. They do help us become more joyful, peaceful, patient, etc…but that’s not their primary purpose. They do help my days as a mom go smoother, but that is NOT the reason I practice them.

We do these things because they are God’s tools to transform our hearts.  (But hey, I certainly enjoy the extra bonus of having a more peaceful home, don’t you?)

9 Tips for Spiritual Discipline: To Help You Stay Connected to the Vine: 

1. Scripture Reading

This one is self-explanatory. Read the Bible. Choose a time and place that works for you, have a seat, and start reading.

2. Scripture Meditation

This is more than just reading the Bible. It’s personalizing it.  Use a small chunk of Scripture and let it soak in.

3. Scripture Memorization

Allow Scripture to become a part of your life by memorizing it. After all, you can’t recall verses you need to share with your children if you don’t have any verses in your memory to recall.

4. Prayer

Many of us tend to make prayer more difficult than it needs to be. I’ve heard hundreds of “prayer methods” that explain how to pray. If these methods help you, by all means use them. But don’t get so bogged down on how to pray that you neglect to do it. Prayer is simple. It’s a conversation. It’s you talking to God like you talk to anyone else.

5. Fasting

Fasting is depriving yourself of something for the sake of God. Use the times when you would normally eat (or play video games or watch TV) to pray. Allow your fast to remind you of your constant need for God.

Fasting doesn’t have to be only from food. You can also fast from TV, the computer, Facebook or Twitter or (my favorite) Pinterest, video games, pop, sweets, etc. The point of a fast is to draw you nearer to God and pull you away from the world.

6. Reading

Read other Christian books as well as your Bible.

7. Journaling

Here are a few ideas of what to journal: daily events, reflections as you read, feelings, prayers, memories, questions, world events, conversations, quotations, dreams, etc.

8. Worship

Worship isn’t reserved for Sundays. Or at least, it shouldn’t be. Make worship a part of your day-to-day life.

9. Sabbath

By Sabbath, I don’t mean just doing nothing on Sunday afternoon. I mean intentionally slowing your life and learning to be still before the Lord.

Will you join me this week in practicing some of these spiritual disciplines?

Because here’s the truth: If you start doing these things, I can’t promise you a life without problems. But I can promise you a transformed heart. (And I’m pretty confident your home will become more peaceful too).

Let’s talk…….Which of these spiritual disciplines do you hope to begin practicing?   

About Lindsey Bell:

Lindsey Bell is the author of Searching for Sanity: 52 Insights from the Parents of the Bible. She’s also a stay-at-home mother of two, minister’s wife, avid reader, and chocolate lover. You can find Lindsey online at any of the following locations:

Her blog: www.lindsey-bell.com 

Her website: www.lindseymbell.com 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/LindseyMBell

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorLindseyBell

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/LindseyMBell01

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how my chronic illness has helped my kids

chronic illnessMy 17-year-old daughter voiced that assessment of me last night. It’s been a rough couple of days for me health wise, but I’ve been powering through. Resting when I can. But we all know that rest is hard to come by for moms.

My struggle is something I don’t often talk about.

At least not outside my very close circle of friends and family.

After all, I look perfectly normal and healthy. Who would believe that I struggle with some level of pain every single day?

But it’s true. 

I don’t often feel sorry for myself. So I don’t want or expect anyone else to.

It is simply a reality. One that I’ve learned to fight and accept at the same time.

Besides how it affects my husband, I’ve worried so much about how my illness has affected my kids. If they had a dime for every time I’ve said, “I don’t feel good” over the years, they could skip college and retire now.

I hate that. I’ve cried many tears over that fact alone. I don’t want that to be the memory of their mother: Laying on the couch or staying behind while the rest of the family enjoys an activity that I simply don’t feel up to. Or not being able to be fully present with them because I just can’t mentally move past the pain.

I’ve prayed for healing so many times that I sometimes think God will surely heal me just to shut me up! I can so relate to that woman in the Bible who reaches out to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe. But my reality remains. I don’t completely understand why. And I’ve decided (for the most part, I have my days) that I’m okay with that.

Chronic illness can make you bitter. And I’m determined not to do that. I may not know why, but I do know a few things without a shadow of a doubt:

1. I serve a good and just God.

2. He would not allow me to endure pain without a purpose.

3. He has and will give me what I need to press on in the midst of it.

4. My kids are better for it.

It took me a long time to believe number 4. But now that they’re both in their mid- to late teens, I can see more clearly how God has used my illness to grow their character, as well as mine.

Here’s a few things they’ve gained from my chronic illness:

Compassion and Gratefulness

Micah battles his own chronic illness. Molly has her unique struggles. Together with observing my illness, this top-of-the-mind awareness of pain has given my children a tremendous capacity for empathy toward those who are struggling. They demonstrate compassion and regularly commit to pray for those who are battling disease or illness of any type.

Neither one takes their health for granted. Especially Micah, who has to fight for it each day, just as I do. They thank God for it sincerely and regularly.

Perseverance

It is only through the supernatural grace and strength of God, but I believe I’ve been able to model perseverance and positivity in the midst of mine.

This is a character trait that can be applied to any type of struggle they will face in life. And we all know they will face many. They have seen up close and personal that it can be done. Not perfectly, of course. I’ve definitely had my moments of complete meltdown. But somehow, miraculously, and certainly not on my own strength, God has enabled me to keep going over and over again.

A Mom Who is Deeply Dependent on Jesus

We all want God to just come in and “fix” our problems. Wave a magic wand and poof! they’re gone. But I know my relationship with Jesus would not be nearly as strong as it is if I’d had a pain-free life. That fact is the one of the only reasons that I can thank and praise God for my illness. He has been so sweet and faithful to me in the midst of this valley that never seems to end. I’ve developed a deep dependence on Him that I’m not sure could have been achieved any other way.

My kids have benefitted from a mom who is dependent on Jesus. They have seen how faith is lived out — sometimes in very messy ways — when there’s no magic wand in sight. When there are no answers. When relief doesn’t come.

Do I wish I would be healed right now? Amen, sister. But until then, my prayer has been this: “Please God, bring good from this, let it finish its work in me and please don’t let it continue one more second longer than it needs to to accomplish Your purposes.”

And I’m reminded of at least some of His purposes whenever I look at my children. 

signature_MELINDA

 

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mom anxiety: a complete waste of time

mom anxiety“Anxiety is nothing…but repeatedly re-experiencing failure in advance. What a waste.”  – Seth Godin

Re-experiencing failure in advance can sound like this in a mom’s head:

  • “I don’t want to invite anyone over to my house because they will think that I’m a slob.
  • “I don’t want to travel with my kids because they will drive me crazy the whole time and it won’t be worth my effort.”
  • “I don’t want to get to know anyone at my church because they will just ask me to do things that I don’t have time to do.”
  • “I don’t want to try and cook something healthy because my family will hate it and then I will have wasted my time.”

What if we didn’t waste time “re-experiencing failure in advance” like we do during a mom anxiety episode?

What would each of these scenarios look like now?

You invited people over and you had a great time.

Whoa. Call the papers. That’s a tragedy worth a front page headline.

You took a trip and although it wasn’t picture perfect all the time, but you made some memories with your family that would have never happened otherwise.

And we know making memories with kids is so harmful, right?

You introduced yourself to someone new at church and found out you have a lot in common. In fact, you are planning to have lunch together soon.

Lunch? Everyone eats lunch. Why not with someone that can enrich you with life-giving friendship.

You cooked ginger-coated tofu with a sauce from another country that you can’t even pronounce.

Only one person out of your family had one bite and that person wasn’t even you.

Oh well. Really — oh well.

Pitch that recipe and move on to another one that won’t clog your family’s arteries and spike their blood sugar. You used a coupon for that tofu anyway…and got it on sale.

Unless we try, we don’t learn. We don’t grow. We teach this to our kids on a daily basis but for moms it can feel stifling.

Anxiety is such a waste of a mom’s precious time.

Time that we could be doing things that really make our families better and making us happier in the process. If mama ain’t happy….

you know the rest.

 

If you knew that there would be no judgement, would you have people over to your home today?

If you knew that there would be more fun than misery,

would you do something adventurous with your family?

 

Kathy Helgemo

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taking care of yourself: a guide for moms

taking care of yourselfby Simone Graham, Regular MOMtor Contributor

“If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” – never a truer word spoken.

Too often we moms put ourselves last on the list, seeing to everybody else’s needs, making sure everybody else is happy, but neglecting ourselves. There can be a certain amount of guilt associated with taking care of yourself, as if it’s selfish.

But it’s not. It’s absolutely necessary.

Looking after the person who looks after everyone (you) is essential to everyone’s wellbeing. There’s a reason why the airline safety video instructs us to “put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others”.

Moms are the ones who set the tone in the family, who provide the heart and soul, the care. If we are beginning to fall apart, everything begins to unravel.

I speak from bitter experience. As a mom who has an ongoing battle with my Achilles heel of anxiety and depression, our family has often experienced what happens when mom runs out of Go Juice. It aint pretty.

Taking care of yourself is not selfish, it’s essential. I’ve had to get better at it for the sake of everyone – something I’ve never been very good at (the guilt, remember?). Otherwise the whole family suffers.

Here are some of the things that help me – my “medicine for the soul”, my oxygen mask.

ASK FOR TIME FOR YOURSELF
Men are really good at taking time out for themselves. My husband makes the time in his busy week to play indoor soccer, have a round of golf, go for a cycle or work out at the gym. He feels no guilt.

But like many other mothers, I usually forget to ask for time for myself.

But just as much as our men, we moms need time with other grown-ups: uninterrupted conversation, coffee, or a movie with a friend. It’s energizing, revitalizing and necessary if I want to have gas in the tank for my family.

But if I don’t ask for that time, I probably won’t get it. “The squeaky wheel gets the oil” – so before everything falls apart speak up and say “I want to go out with Mary-Jo tomorrow night…” and let daddy take over for the night.

Here are some other ways we can re-energize our mom-souls even if time is short…

BEAUTY
Beauty soothes me, calms my ragged nerves and is like a kind of tonic. By that I mean, sitting in a sunny corner with a cup of tea, looking out at the trees waving; or some fresh flowers put on my windowsill (I love the freesias that are out at the moment, they smell so delicious).

I am not an outdoorsy person at all, but there is something very healing about getting outside into nature. (I have discovered that gardening really refreshes me).

A walk on the beach (or in the countryside) can be like a tonic for the soul.

MUSIC
Calming music is something that I have turned to many times. For a long time I couldn’t pray or read my Bible; the best I could do was to fill my house with music that would lift me up when I was down. I would just put on one of my mix CDs (all my current favorites) and sit with a cuppa and let the songs wash over me. When I start to feel overwhelmed and swamped with noise, sometimes all I need is “the sound of silence” (rare as that may be).

FRIENDS
There’s no point faking it; if you’re struggling, people can see right through the plastic smile and calm veneer. We all need at least one friend that will stick with us through thick and thin.

We were never meant to do this mom-thing alone, although it can be very isolating in the early days. The reality is, we moms are all in the same boat, so we might as well reach out and let others “in”. Sometimes that can be scary, but vulnerability is worth the risk.

When my kids were pre-schoolers I would often invite other moms over for morning tea so our kids could play together and we could indulge in treasured grown-up conversation. It’s a way to grab friend-time in the midst of a busy day with littlies – open up your home, expect mess, enjoy a moment of connection. (And remember that old saying: if you want a friend, be a friend).

CREATIVITY
It’s hard to be creative when you are juggling kids, but if you can find some time and space for something creative, it’s amazing how it will energize you. Blogging is part of my creative outlet, as are my kids’ birthday parties. Sometimes I paint or do DIY.

I have a Visual Journal, which works like a written one but with colors and paints instead of words.

My counselor taught me this technique as a way to connect with God and also to work through things. When our minds are all frazzled and our thoughts tangled, it’s next to impossible to write in a journal, but painting by-passes our brain, and comes out of our spirit. It’s been amazing sometimes the things that have come out when I have painted.

I also love to paint canvases, in acrylic; mainly seascapes. I find it very calming, mixing colors right on the canvas and seeing where it takes me.

READING
I love to read; I’m the world’s biggest bookworm. I find that reading helps me escape into other worlds and keeps my imagination firing. Books are highly portable and can be tucked into your bag (or downloaded onto your phone) so you can grab half an hour here or there while waiting on the sidelines at Susie’s dance lesson or Jack’s soccer training. Yay for reading, I say.

Taking care of yourself is not selfish, it’s essential. Kick guilt to the curb and look after yourself, mom. Put on your own oxygen mask first, remember?

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simone grahamSimone Graham lives in Auckland, New Zealand where she is mom to Dash (11) Miss Fab (10) and Scrag (6). She blogs at http://greatfun4kidsblog.com.