Long time, no blog... I know and I've been praying about what to write. Well tonight the inspiration hit. In one week I'll be doing my first speaking engagement. Just typing that makes my insides quiver a bit. But it's about a topic near and dear to my heart. So I'm giving you all a sneak peek into my talk. And asking for your prayers.
I'll be speaking to a mom's group at my church Thursday, February 9th, from 10 am to 12 pm EST. Please pray hearts would be ready to receive whatever the Lord does and that my voice will convey my heart without wobbling. :-)
Here's the meat of the talk minus what I hope are some jokes worth laughing at and some group exercises to help what's said make it into application.
Thanks for praying for me! I already feel a little less nervous.
Slow the Rush and Enjoy the Journey
1) Take care of yourself.
As moms especially we tend to put ourselves last on the list if we even make the list of people to take care of. With little ones, time alone is a hard commodity to come by. I understand that well. So what I want to talk about here isn’t one more thing to add to your already packed To-Do list. It’s about your heart.
One of the first things I learned at the marriage intensive I attended a year ago was that we live out of what we believe in our hearts. And from our earliest years the enemy has been whispering lies we’ve accepted as truth. Lies like…
I’m not good enough.
I’m a horrible mommy.
These lies zap so much of our energy before we even get started on the daily stuff. And doing the daily stuff while we’re already worn out emotionally and physically then adds to these lies. Nasty cycle.
The way out is simple. Not easy. But simple.
There are two aspects of this way out.
#1 is getting with God to deal with the lies
#2 is learning how to get filled instead of drained.
Dealing with the lies
The first step in dealing with the lies is facing them, bringing them into the light, and asking God “What’s written on my heart?”
Next is feeling the pain behind the lies. The memories where those lies got started. Crying here is healing. Not the angry crying we may have done when we got hurt or the manipulative crying we might do to try and stop the hurt. But just feeling the hurt.
The last part is asking God what the truth about you is.
Here’s how that looked for me the first time I started dealing with my heart. For as long as I can remember back I’ve always had a painful sense that I’d never quite hit the mark. I tried to prove wasn’t true. In fact, my perfectionism and type A drivenness could be traced back to this one lie.
I’m a disappointment.
When I got alone with God to talk to Him about it, I tried to reason away where I would have believed that lie from and tried to ignore the memories. But as soon as I asked God where that lie started, the memories flooded in. Times when I messed up on test in school, times when I tried hard to please my mom and never could, times when my mom yelled at me and told me how she wished I’d never been born.
Those times were instantly so real I could taste the tears I cried then. But then I was hurt and angry and didn’t understand. Now, as an adult, I just felt the hurt. And understood I’d lived out of that lie, which is exactly what the enemy wanted me to do. Not my mom, not the other people who said I disappointed them. I chose to believe a lie and live as if it were true or trying to prove it wasn’t true. Instead of letting God show me what was true.
So I asked Him. After I’d cried and cried with all the memories, I asked God, “What do You say about me?” And to my absolute surprise, He answered. Not me conjuring up an answer, but one that made my heart pound and my soul smile. God spoke straight to my heart and said, “Amy, you are my beloved child with whom I am well pleased.”
I found out later those were words God had spoken to Jesus at His baptism, before He’d even begun His earthly ministry. Then I was positive God couldn’t have said them to me. Me? But He did. And through the counselors at the marriage intensive, God showed me He did indeed speak and did truly mean I was His beloved child and He was pleased with me.
It’s been a year and those words still grab my heart and hold it in a hug from God.
He does speak. He longs for us to hear what He truly thinks about us.
And that’s the first step of healing. Get the lies out in the light and talk it over with God. Listen to what He says about you. It will change your heart from a place of rocky soil where there’s little room for the Word to take root and grow, to a place where truth and life flow freely.
Getting filled instead of drained
I’d like to share some scriptures here that illustrate both why and how we get filled.
The first is Mark 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Jesus lays out the 2 greatest commandments. Love God. Love yourself and others. Two things to keep in mind here. You can’t love yourself or others without loving God and letting Him love you. That’s where we learn what love means and looks like. The other thing is you cannot love others unless you love yourself. You have to be filled inside to have anything to give away.
Here are a few more scriptures worth considering:
2 Cor 1:3-5 The God of all comfort will comfort you so you can comfort others
Rom 15:13 God fills us so that we might overflow to those around us
Luke 5:16 Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray
Mark 6:31 Jesus told the disciples to be by themselves and rest
Based on those scriptures, here’s a short version of why we are to take care of ourselves~
God commanded it
Jesus modeled it
And the Holy Spirit empowers it.
There’s the why…here’s the how
Both Mark 12:30 and Luke 2:52 speak to four ways to get filled
The two greatest commandments in Mark 12:30 show the four areas we need to get filled in. Love the Lord with all your heart (emotional), soul (spiritual), mind (mental), and strength (physical).
Luke 2:52 says Jesus grew is wisdom (mental) stature (physical) favor with God (spiritual) and man (emotional)
Listen to your heart, get information from your feelings, don’t ignore them
Example: journaling or talking to mature Christian friends~ so often I hear truth I was missing when my best friend points out a scripture or an idea that hadn’t crossed my mind.
Hang out with God. Not “read for an hour every day and pray for another hour.” Just hang out with God because you want to and because He wants to hang out with you. Sure, read your Bible and pray. But not as a task, as a way to get to know God.
Examples: getting outside with nature, listening to praise music, listening to a child pray. My top two here are listening to a mountain stream and my children praying. I’ve gotten away to listen to a stream alone that a few times, but since I’m a busy mommy, I can’t do that often. So I bought a few water CD’s at Target. They’re great! My other one is listening to my children pray. So often their simple, faith-filled talking to their Heavenly Daddy reminds me that’s how I’m to come too.
Feed your mind with healthy things.
Examples: Turn off the TV and computer. Turn on praise music or read a good book. Philippians 4:8 thinking isn’t just a good idea, it’s a command for our very best.
Studies show our bodies need at least 8 hours of sleep. I know for a fact I’m not a good mommy if I’m sleepy and grumpy. I stand a far better chance of listening to God and living in His strength if I obey His command to take care of myself. That includes sleep.
Example: Getting 8 hours of sleep at night. Eating healthy. Getting regular exercise. That’s not a To-do list item either. It’s a necessity for your mind and body that you can combine a few things to accomplish. If you like to read, what about reading for 20 minutes while walking on the treadmill? Or taking your kids in a stroller and walking abound the block? There are ways to multitask without adding lines on the list.
Taking care of yourself is the best gift you can give the people around you.
Taking care of ourselves is also one of the most important ways we make it possible to enjoy the journey of mommyhood.
If you’d like more information or to go more in depth in this area, check out the Life Resources section on my website for the link to some Bible studies I wrote for a women’s conference and then revised to teach my senior high Sunday school class about getting whole, full, and healthy. There’s also a discussion board on the website to talk about these studies and connect and learn with other women. Please come visit! www.amywallace.com
To me prayer is all about loving God and loving others. One of the ways I most effectively serve my husband and children is to pray for them. It’s also some of the best time well spent.
Praying the Armor from Ephesians 6
Stormie O’Martian’s The Power of a Praying Wife
Stormie O’Martian’s The Power of a Praying Parent.
Another resource in praying is listening to how God answers the prayers of others. God Answers Mom’s Prayers. I have a story in here entitled “For This Child.” It’s all about how God answered my prayers for protection with a “No” because He had a greater lesson to teach me. Plus, it’s a great example of my tornado second child and how I went to the emergency room in her place.
3) Nurture Your Marriage
Splashes of Serenity devotional: “Nurturing a good marriage goes a long way toward nurturing a child.” Not only that, but nurturing a good marriage goes a long way in nurturing your heart and drawing you closer to God.
Simply Romantic Nights and Simply Romantic Secrets from FamilyLife.
Having a date night might feel at first like another thing to add to the “To-do” list, but taking the time once a week or once a month to really stop the world, connect, and focus on each other is worth the time spent. It can slow the rush of life and give you a little oasis where you can fill up and relax.
My marriage wasn’t well enough for over nine years to do any of those things. If that’s where you are, I have two recommendations. One is the Smalley Couples Intensive and the other is Dr. Douglas Rosenau. He is the most amazing counselor we’ve had. He really loved us both and helped us see the good worth working for in our marriage.
4) Calm bedtime routines
A few one on one minutes of calm can really revitalize our mommy hearts and help us connect with the hearts of our children.
This daily activity helped me stay sane many a day. It renewed my vision for loving my job as a daily clearner-upper, bottom-wiper, discipliner, and all the rest of my mommy hats because it gave me a glimpse of the pay-off. I could snuggle with each child in the quiet of their room and sing a lullaby, pray, and just chat a few minutes to see how their day was. Even my high-energy tornado kid would let me rock her and be still while I prayed and sang to her. It calmed us all down after a busy day.
I started this routine when they were babies. We’d wash face and brush teeth and then go into their room to have a few minutes together. While I was with one, the other two would be in their rooms reading or resting. I start with the youngest and go up in age in order because I figure the older they are the longer they can handle waiting.
Having a calm nighttime routine is one of those mommy things that top my Treasured Moments list. It’s worth working to put in place. For our children and for us.
5) Mommy and child dates
Planning special time to laugh and play with each child can nurture both mom’s and kid’s hearts.
We do this once a month with each child. Usually, we let the girls choose the activity. We’ve gone to the library to read, the park to play, occasionally out to dinner, a walk through our neighborhood, or to the children’s section of a bookstore. We often spend anywhere from one hour to three depending on our family schedule and needs.
My husband and I also take turns each month so that every other month we each get some good one-on-one time with each child. It’s so worth the time to get to know each child in their uniqueness and let them see how important they are to you.
6) Building into the schedule time to play as a family
Carving out time to just have fun slows the rush down and builds memories that enhance joy both now and later. We protect Friday nights to have game nights in our home. We’ve taught our girls how to play marbles and we all have a ball with that. My two year old loves holding the biggest, shiniest marble and chasing after the ones we don’t catch. We also play UNO and a host of board games and card games.
Sometimes we just read together as a family. We’ve recently read Little Women and Little Men by Louisa May Alcott, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery and all of us snuggle up and imagine the story.
A few times we’ve popped popcorn and watched a movie like Anne of Green Gables or Beauty and the Beast.
7) Purpose not to wish or pray away the journey
There’s a quote from and old In Touch article about the persecuted church in China that I will never forget… “American Christians pray, ‘Lord deliver us from this trial.’ Chinese Christians pray, ‘Lord strengthen our backs.’”
What a different perspective.
God loves us more than we can imagine. And sometimes He shows it by giving us tough times to strengthen our faith. God gave me a priceless gift in the tough pregnancies and difficult first years. He gave me Himself. He captured my tears in a bottle and reminded me over and over not a one of them was shed in vain.
The truth is we can't stop time or even make the clocks move slower. But we can take care of ourselves, pray, and find practical ways to slow the rush and enjoy this journey. We can purpose to seek God and enjoy Him~ that’s the all-encompassing way we find the abundant life, the joy Jesus came to give us. My favorite line of the Westminster Shorter Catechism with a slight tweak from pastor John Piper says this, "The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever." In doing that we can slow the rush of life and find joy in the journey of mommyhood, watching God work in and through us.
Here’s to the journey…may you enjoy it with all your heart.