Fasting When You Have Little People

I’ve been doing some deep work here on the blog. For one thing, I’m completely overhauling the website, and I hope to have the new site ready to launch in the next month or two. For another thing, I’ve been reading and praying and researching so that I can best serve you, my reader.

Here are some things I believe to be true about you: 

1. You love Jesus.
2. You are a momma of little people.
3. You want to make a difference as you pour the love of Jesus into the lives of your little people.

There are exceptions to this (Hi, Daddy), but in general, how am I doing so far?

The plan going forward, is to write with these perceptions in mind. I don’t want to waste your time by randomly sticking up posts. Instead, I want to be your cheerleader and encourage you as you pursue the heart of your heavenly Father.

I haven’t finished the deep work yet, but I’d love to carry on a conversation in the process. So, how about we start with fasting?

Every January and August my church (along with many others) does a season of 21 days of prayer and fasting. It is a time of early rising to intentionally spend time in worship, Bible study, and prayer; giving God the first of our day in an act of submission to Him.

Fasting is the practice of abstaining from something in an effort to connect with God. He doesn’t like us more if we do it, we are not a superior Christian if we do it, but it does honor Him by removing distractions as we focus our heart and attention toward Him.

The question is, how do we effectively fast with little people around?

I don’t know about you, but my little people do not always follow my pre-determined schedule. They tend to wake up mid-way through the 6am livestream, and since their bodies are still growing, l cannot ask them to fast from food. These small ones are the definition of hangry.

Some of you may be pregnant, or nursing, or have health needs that require you to eat. Some of you aren’t sleeping very much at the moment because the baby is still waking up three or more times every night. This makes it hard (impossible?) to wake up early enough to have an entire hour of quiet with the Lord.

Here is what I want you to hear today: God sees your heart and He loves your efforts.

Our season of fasting may look a little different during these younger years, but that does not make them wasted. Consider implementing one of the following ideas for 21 days. Will any of these work for your current stage of life?

7 Ideas for fasting with little people:

-Starting the day with worship music.
-Staying off of social media.
-Keeping the tv off after the kiddos have gone to bed.
-Choosing one verse to meditate on during the course of the day. Or week. Or 21 days.
-Fasting from one type of food item. What is it that you reach for when you just need a moment? Instead of reaching for it, pray to Jesus.
-Fasting one meal during the day.
-Consuming a liquid diet for one day.

No matter what you do, it’s the heart behind it that matters. God loves for His people to seek after Him. He knows your current reality and sees the sacrifices that you make to spend time with Him. He delights in you.

Keep after it. Any time you find to devote toward God will not be wasted.

“‘When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.’ God’s Decree.” Jeremiah 29:12-14 (The Message)

Advertisements

My Not-so-Serious Potty Training Advice

Potty Training 2

I’ve been putting it off for a while, but now we have officially taken the plunge. The plunge into potty training that is.

Potty training has got to be my least favorite milestone. I’m sure I’ll change my tune when it’s time for my children to start driving, but as of this moment, potty training is the winner. Surely it has something to do with the negatives way out performing the positives:

Potty Training Negatives:

-Watching the clock
-Cleaning up accidents
-Realizing your baby is growing up
-Bringing a potty with you wherever you go
-Packing multiple changes of clothes
-Having to take your child to a public restroom when she insists she has to go NOW
-Pee and poop galore
-Washing a zillion loads of extra laundry
-Convincing your child that diapers/pull-ups still have to be worn while sleeping
-Convincing your child that diapers/pull-ups are only to be worn while sleeping

Potty Training Positives:

-Saving money on diapers
-Not having to change diapers

I mean, who really wants to have so much say in another person’s toileting habits?

So, for anyone who might be approaching this stage of parenthood, here is my not-so-serious potty training advice.

Stop Caring

Just get over it. You have to be at the point where you legitimately do not care if your child pees on your couch or poops on your rug. Because it will happen. Stock up on fabric cleaner and you are good to go.

Okay, so I’ve heard tale of people who have potty trained their kiddos with zero accidents. That is amazing and these are probably the people from whom you should be seeking potty training advice. Not me. Remember that post on seeking advice? You shouldn’t even be reading this!

Leave it up to Them

I was better at this with my first than with my second. I thought she was ready, but when she peed on me at 7ish months pregnant, I gave it up until I knew for sure she was ready. How did I know? It was very scientific.

“Dearest daughter, would you like to wear diapers or panties today? Diapers? Okay, awesome.”

Two months later: “Dearest daughter, would you like to wear diapers or panties today? Panties? Okay, you have to go pee-pee in the potty first. No? Diapers it is.”

Two more months later: “Dearest daughter, would you like to wear diapers or panties today? Panties? And you are okay going pee-pee in the potty?” ::deep breath:: “Father in Heaven, help me through this.”

Be Flexible

I’m speaking to myself. Last time, I insisted that my daughter wear her undergarments anytime we went out. If she was going to be potty trained, it was going to be wherever we went.

That’s not a bad idea, but if you know you are going to be taking a five hour trip to the beach, please put a pull-up on your child who has only been potty trained for a month. Please. Just do it. If you take this tiny piece of advice, your trip may not turn into 7 hours with two carseat accidents and five potty stops. And who wants to wash a carseat cover the moment they arrive at the beach? Please. Use the pull-up. I’m speaking from experience here.

And if your child happens to get poop all squished in some undies…save yourself the trouble and just throw the things away. Again. I have experience. Gross. You can afford a new pair.

Conclusion

Alright, so you guys caught me. I don’t actually have any real, good, legitimate, tried-and-true, proven-to-be-affective advice. Basically, I make this stuff up as I go.

But here is the truth: you’ve got this. You can handle it and you will survive it. You are a mommy, and mommies have pretty good instincts about when their kiddos are ready to handle things like potty training. Go with your gut, use bribery, buy a bajillion potties, and just go with the flow.

And most importantly, laugh at the craziness of it all.

On Seeking Advice a.k.a. Temper Tantrum Survival

1004087_10100765225548911_508797427_n
Photo by Alexa’s Photography

My not-quite-two-year-old wanted to walk. She had developed a habit of dashing out into parking lots, so I decided that lunch time at Chick-fil-A was not the time to allow her to practice being independent.

When I scooped her up in my arms, she immediately began to throw a full-out temper tantrum. She screamed, clawed at my face, told me to “go away”, yanked at my hair, and convulsed her body in such a way that I could barely hold onto her with my one free arm.

We somehow managed to make it to the car safely, but I was flustered. This wasn’t the first time she had responded to me that way. My daughter, who was usually very affectionate and loving, was making it a habit to behave in a way that could not be tolerated.

Our discipline often involves giving our children the opportunity to make choices, and then giving appropriate consequences when poor choices are made. My instinct was that this method would not work in this situation. In the midst of such a violent temper tantrum, I certainly could not expect my daughter to make, let alone verbalize, an appropriate choice. Neither did I want to invoke a physical consequence for a situation in which she was lashing out physically.

I knew I needed to seek advice.

If I needed financial advice, I would have asked someone who uses a strong financial knowledge to handle money well. If I needed legal advice, I would have gone to a well-known lawyer whom I could trust to point me in the right direction. If I needed medical advice, I would have booked an appointment at my doctor’s office.

Facebook wouldn’t be the place to answer my questions.

Facebook is a great way to connect with people, and can often be a great place for resources. But certain questions require an expert in the field to answer them. I strongly believe that when it comes to seeking advice on raising my children, I should always consult an expert in the field.

Think about it. Let’s say I posted my scenario on a mommy board. Undoubtedly, I would receive quite a few responses from all kinds of people giving me their take on the situation. Might some of the advice be good, even great? Absolutely. But how would I know where to start? What credibility do these individuals have when it comes to answering my question? Do these families hold similar beliefs to my own? Do their children behave in a manner that I want my own children to model? Do I even know them?

I don’t take the raising of my children lightly. I have been given a huge responsibility and I want to get it right. My Facebook community may have been able to help me feel less alone in the struggle, but it wouldn’t be my source for seeking advice.

For this situation, I decided to ask an expert in the field. Kathy White is the Children’s Pastor for nursery and preschool ages at Daystar Church. She has worked in ministry with little children most of her life. She has raised three respectful boys of her own. I knew that by asking Kathy, I would have her years of experience on my side. I could trust what she would say because I had seen the results of her labor of love in ministry and at home.

Her advice? It was simple. She told me to hold my daughter close and take her hands in mine. While looking into her eyes, I should quietly, yet firmly, say things like, “We do not hit. We use soft touches.” I should then take her hand and use it to gently stroke my face. “Soft touches.”

It wasn’t long before I had a chance to try out my new response. Her sister had something she wanted, so she yanked hair to get it. I calmly took her hands in my own and let her know we do not pull hair. She simply smiled and said, “Okay, Mommy.” And then gave her sister a kiss and an apology.

Situation diffused. It’s been weeks since I’ve witnessed a full-blown temper tantrum. We will always have moments when we need to discuss the appropriate response, but for now, I get to witness her becoming more and more mature as she learns to respond with kindness instead of frustration.

I am proud of my little girl. And I am thankful to know an expert like Kathy White.

“Joyful is the person who finds wisdom,
    the one who gains understanding.
For wisdom is more profitable than silver,
    and her wages are better than gold.
Wisdom is more precious than rubies;
    nothing you desire can compare with her.
She offers you long life in her right hand,
    and riches and honor in her left.
She will guide you down delightful paths;
    all her ways are satisfying.
Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her;
    happy are those who hold her tightly.” (Proverbs 3:13-18; NLT)

*Kathy has a blog of her own at https://theworldaccordingtomrsfarquhar.wordpress.com. I highly recommend you check it out as she has many words of wisdom.

How Motherhood is Changing My Relationship with God

Freeman_016
Image by Alexa’s Photography

“Is Jesus in my heart yet?”

This is the question I asked my mom the day after I decided to give Him my life. I don’t remember how old I was, perhaps 6 or 7, but I very clearly remember promising myself that I was never going to do anything wrong again.

I’ve spent my whole life trying to make good on that promise.

For the most part, I did a pretty good job. I mean, there may have been that year I lied about doing my math lessons. I’ve said things I shouldn’t have. I’ve been selfish and unloving. But overall my life has been a stellar example of what it looks like to follow the rules.

When I was a student, my biggest struggles had to do with making the best grades. My rule book told me to work harder, make the right friends, and get in good with the teachers in order to meet my goals. It pretty much worked. If I didn’t make the grade I wanted, I could pinpoint where I had fallen short in my rules.

I struggled as a teacher, but always found that following the rules helped me succeed. It took me a while to figure out these rules, but they all seemed to boil down to one idea: keep everybody informed. I could help my students succeed simply by staying in touch with parents, colleagues, and administration.

In regards to my faith, I have been very diligent about keeping the rules. Church every Sunday. Quiet times first thing in the morning. Participation in Bible studies. Volunteering and leading at church. Guarding my heart as a single. The list goes on.

Please don’t get me wrong. I have always done these things because I have truly loved them and have seen the benefit of various disciplines in my life. My heart has always been to follow Jesus and serve Him in every aspect of my being. The difference now, is that having children makes it so much harder for me to be successful in all of these rules.

Children are a blessing from God in many ways. For me, one of the biggest blessings has been how they’ve killed my pride. My rules are falling all apart.

As a mom, I’m learning that being a rule follower is a whole lot easier when life plays by the rules. It’s pretty stinkin’ hard when the rules blow up in your face.

Sometimes, particularly in the first months, quiet times are hard to come by. My ability to volunteer on a whim has greatly diminished because of the need for childcare. It makes me sick to see how angry and flustered I can become over simple little happenings throughout our day. I see more and more how I am failing at my rules.

In essence, motherhood is showing me just how much grace I need. I’ve always loved Jesus, but as my children bring my sinful heart to the forefront, I see how much I truly need Him.

So, how is motherhood changing my relationship with God? It’s making me realize to a greater degree that being good at keeping rules is much more likely to lead to pride than anything else. It’s making me appreciate all the more what Christ sacrificed for me, even though I don’t deserve it. It’s teaching me to cling to Him in all my messy moments.

And He loves me for it.

“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:6-8; NLT)

Mom Fails

FreemanMat_079
I originally wanted to have “Big Sister” talk to “Little Sister” in my belly through a tin can. You can see how excited she was about the idea.

I’m only a few years in and I have had my fair share of “Mom Fails”. For example…

There was the time we were getting ready for family pictures. I was trying to get some things accomplished when I realized my toddler was playing on our stairs. I literally thought to myself, “I need to get her off of those stairs. I’ll just finish this real quick…” Next thing I know she has tumbled down half of our solid wood stairs and is screaming at the top of her lungs. Of course, on top of feeling awful for ignoring my intuition, she is forming a nice big lump on her forehead and her eyes are all bloodshot. I felt terrible that she got hurt, but was also desperately hoping our pictures wouldn’t be ruined.

Did you know that Pastor’s wives don’t say things like “crap”? I’m pretty sure that when I married my husband, this was somewhere in the legal contract. Well, this past week, as I was painting my girls’ nails, some polish got on my couch and I said, “crap”. Apparently, my youngest loved the sound of this word and she immediately started turning it into a song. “Crap! Craaaaap, Ccccrrrap, Craaap!” My apologies if she ends up sharing her new vocabulary with you.

Earlier this week, we ventured to Walmart for some groceries. It was my first time getting out since being snowed in all weekend. Our trip turned into quite the adventure. I had a cart full of groceries plus two little girls. It’s always a struggle to get all these things in my car, but this time I failed miserably. I decided to start by buckling in my youngest, but as I’m about to place her in her carseat I hear, “MOMMY!!!” I immediately turned and ran after my cart (carrying my oldest in it) which was already halfway in the driving lane. So many thoughts plagued my mind, but I managed to get everyone buckled while praising Jesus for keeping us safe.

I once posted on social media about my youngest bathing herself in toilet juice. As the story goes, I had just finished cleaning the toilet and hopped into the shower. When things got a little too quiet, I peaked out to find my daughter with the toilet brush in one hand, and the other hand scooping wet, nasty, gooey, chemical-filled toilet juice out of the brush holder and all over her hair. I was mortified. The logical reaction would have been to stick her in the shower with me, but instead, I felt the damage was done and finished my shower before giving her a bath of her own. The worst part about this? It happened twice. I’ve since hidden the toilet scrubber.

This mom job is hard. It seems like every day I struggle with the decisions I’m making and whether or not I’m failing at my task. I’m always sorting through things like:

  • Am I teaching them the right things?
  • Do I intervene in the fight, or let them work it out on their own?
  • Should I work harder in this area, or am I expecting too much?
  • When I get angry, do they know that I still love them?
  • How do I point them to Jesus?
  • Am I giving them enough choices, or too many?

Yesterday, after jokingly calling me a potty mouth for teaching our daughter to say “crap”, my husband reminded me that raising children doesn’t happen in a day. It is a lifelong process. Why is this encouraging?

Our mistakes today do not have to dictate tomorrow. When bedtime is nothing but a battle, it doesn’t mean my girls are going to wake up mad at me the next day. My failures today do not mean I have failed at this parenting thing altogether.

There is grace for these moments, and the opportunity to learn from them. We pick ourselves up and try again. I trust that my girls are watching me learn my lessons too. They may see my failures, but they also see how I respond to them.

I’m not going to do this perfectly. I won’t get it right all the time. Someone else will always have a different opinion. But no matter what happens, I’m grateful that I don’t have to do it alone.

This week, while reading Beth Moore’s “Believing God”, I was reminded of the power of God’s Word. As such, I’m clinging to this verse:

“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13; NIV)

 

*Photo credit: Alexa’s Photography