Thinking You are Failing as a Mom Might Be the Best Thing To Ever Happen To You

Thinking you are failing as a mom might be the best thing to ever happen to you

 

Early in our marriage, my husband frequently claimed that one of the reasons he married me was because he knew I would be a wonderful mother.  I would just laugh and lovingly punch him in the shoulder…but deep down inside (even though I would never admit it to him or anyone else), I agreed.  I was so confident that I would be a wonderful mother when God blessed us with children.  How could I not be?  It was going to come so naturally to someone like me who loved being around children (and taught them for a living).

 

Ten years and three precious kids later, I can’t go a day without feeling like I am completely failing as a mom.  I lose my patience with our boys, talk in too harsh of a tone, whine about having to get up with the baby, and frequently get exasperated that nothing ever seems to go as planned.

 

I thought I would be better at mothering than I am, or at least feel better at it.  This was supposed to be my time to shine.  From the time that I was a little girl, I have always wanted, more than anything, to be a mother.

 

Instead, most days I feel completely inadequate and unprepared for the greatest ‘job’ of my life.

 

Perhaps I had too high of expectations for myself…I was blessed to be raised by an extraordinary mother (of five children, mind you) and I rarely remember her being stressed or exasperated with us.  My mom is an amazing example of selfless love.

 

I came across a quote recently that completely captivated the inward struggle that has characterized the last seven years of my life as a mom:

 

“‎I thought parenting was going to portray my strengths, never realizing that God had ordained it to reveal my weaknesses.” -Dave Harvey

 

Becoming a mother has forced me to look into a very clear mirror…and see an honest reflection of the state of my heart.  And what I’ve seen hasn’t been pretty…by any stretch of the imagination.

 

I see selfishness.

 

Being responsible for the lives of three precious babies has made me see how selfish I can be…with my time, my energy, and my Dr. Pepper!  In addition to meeting the needs and desires of my husband and children, I also genuinely want to be thoughtful of others.  An entire day might pass before I get over myself and think of what I can do to show love to someone else, including those in my own household!

 

I see self-centeredness.

 

Did you notice above how I thought motherhood would be my time to shine?  Yes, God has been teaching me a thing or two about self-centeredness.   As it turns out, the world really doesn’t revolve around me.  Perhaps I should have taken that Astronomy class in college, after all!

 

I see pride.  

 

I realize now how extremely prideful I have been in the past.  This is probably the single greatest work that God has done on my heart since becoming a mother, although He certainly isn’t finished with me yet.  God has used my feelings of inadequacy to humble me and make me realize how dependent I am on Him to meet my every need.

 

If motherhood has taught me anything, it has taught me that I can’t do it on my own.   I am too weak.  I am too selfish.  I am too prideful.   But I think God is using those feelings of inadequacy to draw me back to Him.  I love this quote from the book Give Them Grace:

 

“It is a kindness when (God) strips us of self-reliance, because it is there, in our emptiness and brokenness, that we experience the privilege of his sustaining grace.  It is only when we arrive at the dreaded place of weakness that we discover the surpassing power of Christ.” (p. 152)

 

Yes, I might feel like the biggest failure of all.  But then again, that might just be the best thing that has ever happened to me.  Because it is in my weakness that I can cling to the One is never weak.  It is in my frustrations that I can cling to the One who is slow to anger and abounding in love.  It is in my selfishness that I can cling to the One who willingly gave His own life for me.

 

I might not be perfect, but in my imperfections I can point my kids to the One who is.

 

 

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The Resolutions that Really Matter

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Tomorrow is a new year.  Which means that everyone is busy making goals and resolving to do things differently the next year.  As if that magical minute hand ticks from 11:59 to midnight and everyone is suddenly gifted with a renewed sense of purpose and an insane amount of self-control.

 

Last year I didn’t make any resolutions or set any goals.  I considered it my “year of rest“–having a baby in February and adjusting to life with 3 kids was enough of a goal in itself.  It is a wonderful feeling finishing out the year without any guilt for not keeping my resolutions!  :)

 

As I reflect on the past year and look forward to 2015, I’ve decided that I’m going to make some resolutions this year, albeit unconventional ones.

 

I resolve to spend less time staring at a screen and more time staring at the faces of the people I love most.

 

I resolve to cherish every. single. time. I hear that 5-year old voice saying “I wuv you, Mommy.”

 

I resolve to take an extra 5 minutes to cuddle with my boys before they go to bed.

 

I resolve to spend a few uninterrupted minutes a day just watching my baby girl play, taking her in, observing what new things she can do.

 

I resolve to cherish those sweet notes in 6-year old handwriting that say “I love you, Momy”…even if they are written on a pest control pad of paper.

 

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I resolve to go in and peak on my kids sleeping, because the whole day melts away when you see your precious child tucked fast asleep in their beds (and it is especially precious to find them in the same one).

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I resolve to greet my husband with a smile and a hug when he comes in the door each evening, no matter how hard the day has been or how late he walks in the door.

 

I resolve to invest time to foster relationships with those I love.  Real, face-to-face time.

 

I resolve to spend time each day talking to my God.  Not just asking things of Him, but marveling at Him and learning from His Word.

 

I resolve to give myself grace when circumstances get the better of me and these resolutions are all but a distant memory.  Tomorrow is a new day.

 

Most of all, I resolve to count my blessings and thank God for each and every one.

 

 

 

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PS:  My friend Crystal sent me her brand new Gratitude Journal to use in the coming year!   I am excited to be able to count my blessings each day in such a beautiful journal.  It is currently sold out via her website, but it looks like Barnes & Noble still has a few available (NOT an affiliate link).

 

 

Happy New Year!

What I Want My Daughter to Know About Beauty

To my precious Calla Grace,

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I am writing to you today, on my 31st birthday, as you are sleeping soundly in your bed.  You are not even a year-old yet and I already worry for your future.  Your Daddy would say that this isn’t anything new, I worry about you and your brothers all the time.  But this is different.  I worry about the world you are growing up in.  I worry what this world is trying to teach you about the way that you look.

 

You are the most breathtaking baby I have ever laid eyes on.  I love the way that you smile with your whole face–especially with your gorgeous blue eyes.  I love your soft thin brown hair and your angelic, unblemished skin.  You are beautiful in every sense of the word.

 

But what I want you to know, sweet girl, is that beauty is so much deeper than what we can see.  True beauty comes from within.

 

There is so much that surrounds us that screams for attention to our outward appearance.  You can’t open up a computer or turn on the television without some tainted and distorted view of beauty:  As much bare skin as possible, cleavage for all to see, and a perfect body to boot.  I worry about the effect these over-sexualized images have on your brothers and do everything I can to guard their innocent eyes.  Now I also worry about the effects these images will have on you too–but in a different way.  I worry that they will make you feel like the way God made you isn’t good enough–and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

 

God knit you together in my womb and has already numbered all of your days (Psalm 139).  He knows how tall you are going to be when you grow up, he knows what your body shape will be, and what color your hair will be.  He knows when you will start getting gray hairs and the number of lines that will crease your face when you are ninety.  He knows because He made you.  And He says that you are wonderfully made.  That’s what your Daddy and I say too.

 

When I was young, my mom and dad (your Papa and Lola) would lovingly tell me that I was beautiful inside and out.  But for some reason, I don’t think that I ever really felt beautiful.  In fact, I had this twisted notion that the phrase “beautiful inside and out” was some type of consolation for not being outwardly beautiful enough.  Sweet one, that is the opposite of how I want you to see beauty.

 

Being told that you are beautiful on the inside is the most wonderful compliment you can ever be given.  Don’t discount these words, precious girl.  A girl who radiates beauty from the inside will ALWAYS be the most beautiful.  Not because of the size of clothes she wears or how perfect her complexion is, but because she has the love of God within her–and NOTHING is more beautiful than that.

 

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.  Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”  -1 Peter 3:3-4

 

I would love to say that it gets easier as you get older, that you become more confident and content with the way that God has made you, but unfortunately that just wouldn’t be the truth.  The same insecurities that have plagued women my age when we were young continue to rear their ugly heads even as we get older and supposedly wiser.  As I look in the mirror these days and see the toll carrying three babies has taken on my body and the lines that have found their permanent place along my eyes and around my mouth, it makes me sad that I don’t look how I looked 10 years ago or 15 years ago–when I still thought I wasn’t pretty enough.

 

God tells us that outward beauty is fleeting (Proverbs 31), which means that is how he designed it all along.  He didn’t intend for women to look the same in their thirties and forties as they did in their teens or twenties, despite what Hollywood wants us to believe.  There is a difference between taking care of our bodies and making them idols that we worship with our time and money.  Don’t fall into this trap as you get older, my sweet girl, and I will try not to either.  Treat your body with respect and take care of it, but do not let the pursuit of the perfect body consume your thoughts.  It’s not worth it in the end.

 

Most of all, sweet girl, I want you to look for the beauty in others.  Surround yourself with people who are gentle and treat others with kindness and respect, who love God and let the Holy Spirit guide their steps.  When we love God, we love others well.  It might be difficult to see the beauty in people who are unkind to you, but continue to look for it.  Show kindness even when a sharp answer is warranted.  Be a joyful peacemaker to all those around you.  Honor others above yourself.

 

For this, my darling girl, is true beauty.

 

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A Back to School Prayer for our Kids

A back to school prayer for our kids



 

Sometimes I get frustrated that the Bible gives us such little explicit instruction on the task of raising children.  Honestly, there are few things that matter more than raising up the next generation to love the Lord.  I have been a little weepy at the thought of my firstborn starting first grade this week.  His love for life and zeal for God is amazing (and encourages me daily), but there is still so much I feel like we need to teach him.

As I was pondering all of this over the weekend, I began thinking about Jesus and how Mary must have felt when he was growing up.  Obviously Jesus was the perfect Son of God and would never sin even in his youth…but I find comfort in knowing that even so, Mary and Joseph probably discussed the best ways to bring him up just like my husband and I do about our very imperfect children.  The Bible tell us so little about Jesus’s childhood.   But there is one tiny verse that encompasses the monumental years of his youth that I have been dwelling on:

“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”
-Luke 2:52

As school begins once again, this is the verse I am praying for my children, specifically for my oldest.  It includes three of the most important aspects of a child’s life:  mind, body, and spirit.  Each of these aspects come with their own strengths and weaknesses, with obstacles and challenges to overcome in every facet of life.

 

In Wisdom

Lord, I pray that you will allow Caleb to grow in wisdom this year.  I pray that he will learn everything he is expected to know academically.  I pray that he will be successful in his studies and that he will be a diligent worker in what is asked of him.  Most of all, Lord, I pray that you would allow Him to grow in YOUR wisdom.  Help him to learn more about your character through his interactions with others.  Help the scriptures and stories we have been sharing with him from your Word to be a lamp to his feet and a light to his path.  Give us, his parents, the wisdom to help him discern between right and wrong in the situations he is faced with this year.  Above all else, help him learn to love You more.

 

In Stature

Lord, I thank you for the lives of our children.  I thank you that they are healthy.  I pray that you will protect their bodies and help them to continue to grow strong.  Protect them from illness and harm, Lord.

As school begins, I pray that Caleb will know that he is created in your image.  I pray that he will know that is “fearfully and wonderfully made”.  I pray that he will know that You created him exactly the way that you want him to be.  At times, words from others can be cruel.  Protect his heart and help him to rest in the truth that he is a priceless gift to us and, most importantly, to You…so much so that you sent your son for him.

 

In Favor with God and Man

Lord, I pray that you would allow Caleb to be a light for you.  I pray that he would be obedient to his teachers and kind to his classmates.  I pray that he will show kindness and compassion to everyone, but especially those who are treated poorly by others.  Give him the strength to stand up for the outcasts.  I pray that he will have integrity to do the right thing even when no one is looking.  Help him to surround himself with people who will help him grow closer to you.  I pray that he will be both a leader and a follower– a follower of yours but a leader for his peers.  Help his words and actions to be pleasing to you.

 

All this I ask in the name of your son Jesus.  Amen.

 


 

No matter whether your child will be attending public school, private school, or will be homeschooled, I think this prayer is all-encompassing for what we desire for our kids.  And I fully realize I am asking God for a lot…I certainly don’t expect my children to be perfect.  In fact, I need to pray much of this same prayer for myself.  But this is what I most desire for the lives of my children.

When we place the well being of our children in God’s very capable hands through prayer, we are surrendering control to Him.  I’m not sure there is anything else as equally scary, freeing, and comforting as this.  All I know is that He is certainly more capable than I am!

 

 

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PS- I thought I would create a printable scripture card for those of us who wish to consistently pray this prayer for our kids throughout the year.  Stick it on your bathroom mirror or in the visor on your car…any place that you will see it regularly.  There are 4 identical cards on a page…you can print one for yourself and give the others to friends/neighbors if you would like.

Click on the image below to access the printable file:

 

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Is your child heading off to school soon?  What else would you add to this prayer?  

 

 

 

My Body Made Me a Mom

My Body Made me a Mom



 

It’s summer.

 

Which means that clothing is out and skin is in.  Nearly everywhere I look (online, on TV, and even out my bedroom window), I see people with tanned skin and fit bodies.  People who are running, exercising, and sunbathing…all while showcasing their near-perfect figures.

 

Having just had a baby 4 months ago, I am doing none of these things.  In fact, I am trying desperately to wear as much clothing as I possibly can while still staying cool.  Because, I can say with absolute certainty, nobody wants to see what lies beneath.  Maxi dresses and denim jackets are my new best friends.

 

Having my third baby and now being thirty, this baby weight just wants to hang on.  My stomach (which used to be flat) has become “squishy” at best, my thighs have expanded with each pregnancy (despite the fact that I am running), and my arms will occasionally wave back at me when I excitedly greet a friend or neighbor.  Oh, and I think I have lost enough hair to rival a whole family of cats.

 

To add insult to injury, the universe seems bent at reminding me of my monumental failure at being fit by showcasing moms on blogs, on TV, and on Facebook who look better than ever having just given birth a few weeks or months earlier.

 

This is not my reality.  My reality is that I can only workout one or two times a week (if that) and I am currently about as pasty white as a ghost

 

My reality is that I can try my very hardest to eat healthier and “count calories”…but that Dr. Pepper each morning is my one guilty pleasure.  And I am convinced it helps me make it through the day.

 

My reality is that I don’t have the time or energy to focus full-force on my body.  I have a husband and three kids to take care of, a relationship with God to foster, friends and family to encourage, a blog to run, and a church to attend.  I could probably get back into my pre-pre-pre-pregnancy size 4 jeans if I really wanted to…but my body is not my top priority right now.  My kids are.  My husband is.  My relationship with God is.  My friends and family are.

 

My reality is that my body has made me a mom.  Rather than cursing it for all the things that currently irritate the heck out of me, I can be thankful that I was healthy enough to carry three precious children within me.  This is a privilege I do not take lightly.

 

my body made me a mom

 

Every pound I have gained has provided nourishment for three beautiful children.

 

Every stretch mark on my stomach a reminder that life was once formed there.

 

Every hair I have lost a memento of the thousands of prayers that have been prayed for the health and well-being of the three precious miracles that God has entrusted to me.

 

I’ve finally resigned myself to the fact that I’ll never get my body back.

 

And that’s okay with me…my body made me a mom, after all.

 

And I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

 

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If you are reading this and you have become a mom through the beautiful act of adoption, please recognize that the same sentiment rings true for you as well.  Your body has enabled you to take care of your children and to put the needs of your family ahead of your own wants and desires (even that of a fit and fabulous bod).   :)