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Weekly Photo Challenge: Three (Planting Seeds)

21 Feb

The kids and I are LOVING this break from the snowy, wintery weather.  It has been 70 degrees or close to it for a few days now, and we have been outside a lot.  I know it’s only February, but I am ready for winter to be over!  I don’t know how you northerners do it…

Charlie, Maddie, and I started some broccoli seeds today so the plants will be ready to transplant in the spring.  We talked a little bit about Jesus’ parable of the sower and the seeds (here are some great ideas) then planted our seeds in a little greenhouse.

A little brother/sister love!  Maddie lost interest in planting seeds pretty quickly, but Charlie was really into it.

A little brother/sister love! Maddie lost interest in planting pretty quickly, but Charlie was really into it.

 

Charlie planting some seeds.  He was adamant, however, that he would not be eating the broccoli when it came up!

Charlie the farmer. He was adamant, however, that he would not be eating the broccoli when it is harvested!

 

Charlie's precious little hand is the perfect size for planting tiny seeds.

Charlie’s precious little hand is the perfect size for planting tiny seeds.

I am looking forward to showing the kids when the sprouts come up, and hopefully we’ll have some fresh broccoli this summer!

 

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Letting Go of Mommy Guilt

15 Feb

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I love taking pictures of my kids on Instagram.  When we go somewhere or make something that I think is really cool, I snap a picture of them smiling and happy, edit it, and post it, sometimes forwarding it on to Facebook.  I think it’s a good way for family and friends who don’t live close by to keep up with the kids, and I also really enjoy the creative aspect of taking a great picture.

I don’t take pictures with the intention of getting compliments, but people sometimes comment with things like “Your kids are so lucky” or  “You’re such a good mom.”  You would think this would make me feel good, but when people make comments like this, I have a pretty standard stream of negative thoughts that run through my mind: Why would they say that? or Boy, have I got them fooled! or No, I’m not.  I just don’t photograph and publish the bad moments. 

While some of these things are correct (I don’t usually photograph and publish the meltdowns and fights and messes), God spoke to me the other day regarding the other negative thoughts that I have concerning myself and motherhood.  A friend from church commented under a picture that I had put of the kids on Facebook, “You are such a good mom.” I immediately started with the negative self-talk.  She just doesn’t know.  I’m really not. Why would she say that?  God spoke to me immediately.  Laresa, why wouldn’t she say that?  You are a good mother.  Why don’t you believe it? 

This was a powerful moment for me.  What if what everyone says about me is true?  What if I AM a good mother?  What if my kids ARE going to be ok?! Why should I not believe that?  I realized that it is time to stop carrying around this mother’s guilt that has been plaguing me, and rest in the knowledge that I am good enough. A weight was lifted from my shoulders immediately.

Mother’s guilt is the worst type of guilt. It begins the day you bring your baby home from the hospital.  We feel guilt over how we feed them, where the baby sleeps, and what type of diaper we are using.  Then the baby gets a little older, and the guilt changes a little.  Working moms feel guilt over working and stay-at-home moms feel guilt over staying at home.  We feel guilty about the choices we are making about our children’s education, where we shop for their clothes, what food they are eating, how many cartoons they are watching every day, and how many stories we are reading to them at nighttime.  We even feel guilty about the number of children we have! I am sure that as my kids get older, different things will spring up for me to feel guilty about.

I know that I am not alone in this.  I hear my friends lamenting over their guilty consciences and the decisions they are making for their families.  Even women who I know to be very confident and self-assured feel mother’s guilt. I once overheard a woman warning a mother-to-be about mother’s guilt at her baby shower! All of the women standing around the unsuspecting woman were nodding their heads in understanding.

There is nothing wrong with the feeling of guilt in itself: it can be an important warning when there is a problem.  In Romans 2:14-15, Paul tells us, Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.”  God gave human beings the feeling of guilt to alert us when we are on the wrong path, so it is an important thing to pay attention to.

The mother’s guilt that I am referring to, however, is not God-given.  It is a self-imposed feeling of not being enough, a form of self-condemnation that comes from the devil himself.  According to Revelation 12:10, Satan is our accuser.  1 Peter 5:8 explains that he is our enemy and that he prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” The devil is using our feelings of mother’s guilt to hold us back and to keep us from being the women that God intends us to be!

Mother’s guilt can have a negative impact on our entire family.  We can over-compensate with our children by spoiling them or not disciplining them when we should.  We can depend on our husbands to make us feel better about ourselves, something that is not their duty, and then get angry when they can’t. This isn’t what God wants for us, for our children, or for our husbands.  In John 14:27, Jesus says, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” He sacrificed himself for us and sent the Holy Spirit to indwell his believers so that we could live a life of peace, not full of worry.

How do we let go of our mother’s guilt?  Let’s look to Philippians 4:6-9 for a solution:

6Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

8And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

First of all, we need to take this issue to God in prayer.  He is waiting to hear from us and wants to help.  He will give us peace to guard us as we go about the difficult task of being mamas.

Then, we need to change our thought process.  When our minds start going in the direction of self-condemnation and negative self-talk, we need to stop ourselves.  Think about good things we have done today (I know there are tons), and tell ourselves we are good enough…because we are…because Jesus made us good enough. We need to remember that Jesus freed us from the burden of having to be good enough when He died on the cross for us.

If you have experienced some sort of trauma in your life that has caused you to suffer from serious self-condemnation, I urge you to find someone to talk to.  It could be a trusted friend, your pastor, or a counselor.  Sometimes we have to allow God to work through other people.

My prayer for you all, fellow mamas, is that you find yourself free of mommy-guilt, that you break free of the stronghold that the devil has on you, and that you allow God to fill your heart and mind and home with peace that only He can give.

 

Monday Praises: Renewal

13 Jan

After the ups-and-downs of the Holiday season, I want to praise God today for blessing me with this season of renewal. Roman 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” While the holidays are a wonderful time, they are also busy and distracting, and I get a bit off-track!

I am thankful today for….

Early mornings spent with the Madster...

Early mornings spent with the Madster…

 

and time to spend with God before the day begins.  It means so much to me.

…and time to spend with God before the day begins. It means so much to me.

Have a great day!

Be sure to check out my friend Amy at Walk Humble With God for more Monday Praises!

Keeping Focused on the Cross

23 Dec

As the month of December progresses and we get closer to Christmas day, it has become apparent to me how many things we have fighting for our attention, this month more than any other month of the year. In addition to our normal life, there are so many other things to do.  I question myself…

Have I bought enough? Have I bought too much? Did I remember to ship everything on time? Should I get a present for my 3rd cousin’s husband’s aunt?  Have I wrapped everything that I bought?  Does my wrapping paper match my Christmas decorations?

Did I do enough with the kids? Did they see Santa and get a perfect picture in his lap with matching outfits?  Did we do all of the Christmas crafts with glue and cotton balls and paint and cinnamon extract and paint and fingerprints that I pinned?  Did we do enough random-acts-of-kindness?

Did I DVR all of the Christmas cartoons?  Did the kids get to see A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer and Prep and Landing?  Did they get to eat popcorn while they watched them?

Did I forget to send a Christmas card to anyone who will be offended if they don’t get a Christmas card?  Was the picture of the kids on the Christmas card good enough?  Did I spell everything on the card correctly and spread the love of Jesus in 10 words or less?

Add to that the ridiculousness of what is in the media, plus the baking and cleaning that is required this time of year, and it is easy to lose focus.

To all of my brothers and sisters in Christ, Let’s not do that!

All of these distractions are things of the world, not of God.  Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’ birthday, and nothing more.  Santa Claus and cartoons and Christmas cards are awesome and fun and I love them, but they should not distract us from the true meaning of Christmas.

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For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.  Isaiah 9:6-7
For the next 2 days, I am going to stop worrying about the things of this world that the devil is putting in my way.  I am going to know that I am good enough because Jesus has made me good enough.  He left his home in Heaven and was born as a human and lived on this earth so that I can live without fear of sin or death. I am going to celebrate Jesus’ birthday and make sure that my kids do, too, and I will know that that is more important than any cartoons I have DVR’d or crafts I have pinned.
Merry Christmas to you all!

Monday Praises-God Keeps His Promises

2 Dec

I will admit, this Monday got away from me!  It’s hard sending Jason off to work after a little vacation, and Maddie is sick, and I get a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach every time I even think about Christmas play practice last night, and my grandma isn’t doing very well, and, well…blah. I could give a long list of complaints about today.

I have been sitting here looking through YouTube, hoping for some inspiration for this post, and I happened upon this:

Isn’t it wonderful?  Whitney Houston was so talented, and I have always loved this version of Do You Hear What I Hear. I have been listening to it over and over.  Jason is trying to watch a football game and he probably thinks I’m crazy, but i just love it.

I want to praise God now for always keeping His promises, but most importantly His promise for a Savior…a way out.  I have some petty little problems, but God is bigger and Jesus is bigger than any Monday.

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:9-14

Monday Praises-Buzz Lightyear’s Take on Thanksgiving

25 Nov

Do you ever have so much to say that you can’t say it?  I am feeling that way this morning.  I have so many things to praise God for that I can’t get my thoughts together to put them into words.  I have been in a state of thanksgiving this month, and now here we are with Thanksgiving just a few days away.

Charlie and Maddie are definitely tired of hearing about Thanksgiving and all that we have to praise God for.  I told them this morning at breakfast that this was Thanksgiving week and we would be spending extra time thanking God for all he had blessed us with.  I told Charlie to try to think of some things he wanted to thank God for.  He was dressed up as Buzz Lightyear at the time, and he told me, “I can’t do that.  I am Buzz and all he does is fight aliens.”

I thank God this week for sending his son, Jesus, to die on the cross for me.  I thank Him for allowing me to be born in a country that allows me the freedom to worship Him.  I thank Him for blessing me and my family with food, shelter, and everything we need and also what we want.

I am also thankful that Buzz is around to keep the house free of aliens!

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Monday Praises-God’s Provision

18 Nov

Isn’t it easy to rely on ourselves and forget who is really in control?  I spend a lot of time worrying about things that I have no business worrying about, and in fact I am sinning against God because I am putting my trust in myself or another person instead of putting my trust in the Lord.

I was reminded of this last night when I was at my church packing shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse.  This was our second night of packing, and we had restocked with plenty of soap and washcloths and toothbrushes and toothpaste, but it looked like we were running out of little toys to put in the boxes.  I looked at the mounds of hygiene items we had remaining, and the stacks of empty boxes behind me, and I started to panic. What are we going to do? I thought.  I immediately started to form a plan in my head.  One of use can go to the Dollar Store and buy a bunch of toys.  We can just stay late to get it done.  

As I was just about to voice my concerns and my solution to my church family (love them, by the way) in walked another woman from our church and her daughter with huge bags of socks, toys, etc.  I immediately saw what God had done.  Wow, that was humbling.  There I was, spending my energy trying to solve a problem, and God already had it solved.  He was at work the entire time (through someone else, might I add-another humbling thought).

We ended up with over 100 boxes!

I want to thank God today for always providing what we need, especially when we are doing His work.  He knows what I need, when I need it.  He is so awesome.
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Be sure to check out Walk Humbly With God for more Monday Praises!

30 Days

12 Nov

A big thanks to my mom, Charlotte Holt, for writing today’s post on thankfulness!

 

Every year several of my friends take the month of November to post things they are thankful for. This was going to be my first year to try it.

I made lists of things I am thankful for. I kept notes on my cell phone (one of the things I’m thankful for), notes on paper, random words that I would write on my checkbook so I wouldn’t forget when I wrote my posts.

It’s easy to think of things I’m thankful for. I struggled with putting it in a post on Facebook. If I put one thing ahead of the other thing, did that mean it was more important to me? I knew it wasn’t, but would the rest of my Facebook world? Did it matter?

This month I have found myself in a state of gratitude. I will be thinking of things I am thankful for and suddenly I am praying, thanking God for my blessings, asking Him to bless others. I have also found that when I am in a state of gratitude, I am happier. It follows me throughout the day.

I realize this is the way God wants us to be. It brings peace to my life.

Colossians 3:15 (NAS) And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.

My intention for this writing was to list the things I am thankful for. I think, though, I will keep these things between me and God. But I want you to know, if you are reading this, I probably have or probably will thank God for you sometime during this 30 days of November.

 

Busy-ness and Rest

11 Nov

I was talking to Casey on the phone today about how this week really snuck up on me.  We had a pretty lazy week last week, and I will be honest-I took a lot of naps! It was great, but a little boring, especially now that the time has changed and the days are so short.

Casey and I were supposed to get together one night this week for dinner, but it just isn’t happening.  I realized yesterday that we are having people over several days this week.  Not that I don’t love having friends over, but I may have over-scheduled us this week!  Add in Bible Study on Tuesday, a meeting at church on Wednesday, Story Time on Thursday, 2 wreath orders, a last-minute magazine article assignment, and the novel I am trying to write for NaNoWriMo, and I am a busy person.

So busy that I forgot until just a few minutes ago that I haven’t yet written my Monday Praises blog post.  Whaaaattttt? It is my favorite post to write all week!  How could I forget?

I had to think, What can I praise God for tonight? The answer popped right into my head: REST.

I am so thankful that I have plenty to do, and that I feel like doing it.  I am so thankful for good friends for me and my children and for a nice place for them to come to and for food to feed them.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,”  Colossians 3:23

I am also thankful that I can get into a nice warm bed at night and sit here with my laptop to type this up.  Even God rested, after all.

Genesis 2: 2-3 “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”

And I am thankful for not only physical rest, but for rest for my soul and heart and mind.  God has given me such peace in my life, even in the midst of the turmoil that is life.

Psalm 62:1-2 “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”

 

 

Monday Praises-God’s Creativity

4 Nov

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Psalm 19:1

In my Sunday School class yesterday we were talking about suffering on Earth, and how even creation is suffering and groaning and struggling.  Creation was cursed when man was, so can you imagine what it will be like when it is no longer restrained and can really show itself in all its glory?  It is going to be AMAZING!

I love nature.  I praise God for his creativity and his vision and his workmanship, and I cannot even imagine how wonderful it will be to see His creations when they are not being restrained by the sins of man.

A beautiful tree in our front yard.

A beautiful tree in our front yard.

 

Make sure you check out Walk Humbly With God for some more reasons to praise God today!