How to have Children without ruining your Marriage

This Man 1.) Speak the truth in love. Your spouse can’t read your mind. Honesty, spoken kindly, leads to intimacy. I am convinced of that. I have lived it.

My beautiful man2.) Create a “What I need from ___________ (insert partners name)” list. Encourage your spouse to do the same.
Keep it short and concise.
Use bullet points.
Print it out.
Place it where your significant other will see it… every day.

3.) Rest when you can. This used to really piss me off when someone who had raised children would say, “Sleep when the baby sleeps!
Seriously? You don’t understand how much I have to do while the baby’s sleeping.
Turns out she was right… When I am exhausted I am ineffective. And it is such a short season. Soon you’ll be back to the laundry, house cleaning, cooking and all of those things you thought you needed to rush back to.
Remember… Exhaustion = Ineffectiveness

4.) Ask yourself if you’re Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. I realize this sounds hokey to many people, but it works. Grab your lipstick, eyeliner, dry erase marker, chalkboard marker… whatever will wash off and write H A L T on your mirror. Why? Because this will be hard to remember when you’re sleep deprived, so have it handy.

DSC08219Before having any discussions, before making any decisions, before making any assumptions, ask yourself if you’re hungry, angry, lonely or tired. You may be a combination of all 4. Or a bit of 2. And then be honest with your partner about what you’re feeling. There have been many times when I’m hangry (hungry and angry). When I can’t think logically before I’ve had something to eat which then calms me down. Usually chocolate…

This is the most important one. I cannot stress it enough.

5.) Have a friend, who (really) knows you and will speak truth into your heart. It is crucial. I had to learn, that my husband is not my girlfriend. There are some things I am not going to take to him to process through, because he can’t fix them and they are stemming from emotions anyway. Emotions change. That’s why we don’t ever make permanent decisions based on temporary emotions.IMG_3685

I have learned this lesson the hard way. However, I have a wonderful friend who has known me my entire life and on the days when I needed to put my boys in their car seats, drive around until they fell asleep, call her and do the ugly cry, she was invaluable.

You may not be a Jesus freak like I am, calling out to God every other minute to guide my thinking. You may not be someone who prays out loud in their car not caring that the person next to them at the stoplight thinks they’re crazy… like I do.
That’s okay.
There has to be someone you can cry out to in times of uncertainty.

I had to make sure that I had (and still have) a support system. Whether it was 1 other woman or 5, I had to build a community of women who were either in my stage of life or had been there. Who wouldn’t judge me. And who would give me sound, applicable guidance on how to journey through this season without losing my mind or suffocating my husband in his sleep.photoI’m not going to lie… Having young children was one of the most difficult things that Chris and I have ever done. We had to decide and still do, that we are on the same team. It is not you fighting your significant other. You’re not going to agree on everything. That’s a given. You must know how to say “I’m sorry” and do it quickly even if you don’t think you were wrong.IMG_4482

I had to remember that Chris is a little boy with long legs. He went from being the center of my universe to having this miniature person consuming all of my quality time, many times leaving him with left overs. He deserves the very best of me. He came first. Without him, I wouldn’t have my children.

Believe me, I know how hard it is to show affection after being pulled on all day by our little ones. Again, this season is just that, a season. Sandra Stanley described it so beautifully when she said, “The days are long, but the years are short.
Your husband will be the one there when your children no longer require your attention for their every need.

There is so much more to talk about here. Let’s make it a two-part post.

Share your thoughts in the comments of what else we should discuss that will encourage moms who are in the trenches and I will use those to build part 2 of our discussion. Men are welcome to share their experience as well.

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The Monster in my Mouth

This is how my day started…Breakfastbecause there were blueberries in the bread.

Really?!” was my response. I began mumbling under my breath about all the children, right here in our city, who would love to have bread with blueberries in it…

I always told myself that I would never guilt my children into eating with the phrase, “There are starving children in… (you fill in the blank)” (Did you happen to catch the two key words in the sentence before last? Always and Never) These two words will make a liar out of you quicker than anything else.

I have and I do tell my children about the child who doesn’t eat dinner before bed and only has breakfast when he’s able to eat in the cafeteria before school. I think it’s important that they know right outside our door is a world of struggle unparalleled by anything their minds can conceive.

However, maybe breakfast after dragging said child out of the warm bed he was, only moments ago, fast asleep in, isn’t the time to lecture him. Maybe if I considered that this is my child whom;
A. Likes to sleep in. (he’s like waking a hibernating bear)
B. Avoids change at all cost. (the never before served blueberry bread)
and
C. Has no problem skipping breakfast all together if he doesn’t feel like eating. (why put an empty stomach in front of taking a stand?)
I would have been wiser in my approach.

In the same way that I don’t want to nag my husband, I don’t want to nag my children. I want to respect and appreciate their different temperaments without catering to their outbursts.

Jud Wilhite said something in a recent message that struck me right in the heart. So much so that I made it into a pretty little instagram saying.
patienceMy lack of patience has always been a glaring character defect and I know better than to pray for patience! But when I view it as the difference between my grace and my wrath it takes on a whole new meaning.

More times than I want to admit, my children are met by the monster in my mouth. My words are harsh and my temper short. I can say with all truth, 99% of the time it’s not the boys who provoked the monster, it’s my lack of time management or lack of sleep or lack of coffee.

It’s an area where I am lacking (and I know it) rising to the surface and lashing out at the nearest target. Even so, I am learning because of all the grace that has been shown me, that “a bad moment does not a bad mama make.” I cannot press this upon your heart enough. Children are quick to forgive. We must be quick to admit fault.

I’m not justifying rants or misdirected anger. I’m saying that when I unleash my untamed words on my children, there is always room for an, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”

The days when I am able to catch and reel in my spoken thoughts before they are released for others to hear are evidence of my progress. Some days I fail and in those moments I will recognize them for what they are, moments.

So…there it is…just one shade of my ugly. It’s all about progress (attainable), not perfection (unattainable).

How important to you are the times right after waking and right before sleeping?

 

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10 Things I’ve learned being a Mom of Boys

Silly faced boys

  1. They have one level of volume LOUD.
  2. They eat… constantly.
  3. They will find dirt where no dirt has ever been found.
  4. They wear cleats in the house.
  5. They run everywhere they go.
  6. They have an inhuman burst of energy around 7:30 p.m. and it’s best to let them get it out before attempting bedtime.
  7. They are surprisingly sensitive.
  8. They laugh at anything that involves “potty words.”
  9. They are incredibly curious, making everything an adventure.
  10. They love their mama.
    < I CANT STOP AT TEN! THERE ARE TOO MANY MORE. >
  11. They potty train successfully when allowed to hit a target (preferably outside… like on a tree or off the deck. Yep, I’m that mom)
  12. They will wake up on the weekend an hour before the sun comes up, but you will not be able to drag them out of bed for school.
  13. They have to be reminded multiple times a day to, lift the toilet seat, put the toilet seat down, flush the toilet, wash their hands…with soap, and to keep their pants on.
  14. They smell like wet puppies after playing outside. Whether it be for 5 minutes or 2 hours.
  15. They consider anytime a good time to get dirty.
  16. They don’t understand why I would ever want to have privacy.
  17. They give real hugs. Not the ones where you barely connect. The ones that squeeze all your breath out.
  18. They use any opportunity to be naked. The less clothes, the better.
  19. They take everything apart (including jewelry, lingerie drawers and large purses) in order to put it back together so they understand how it works (even if it doesn’t go back together.)
  20. They crave love, affection, encouragement, admiration and security as much as any of us girls do, they just don’t show it or need it expressed in the same way.
  21. They need the freedom to be boys.

Y’all, I grew up with sisters. We had curling irons and a different brush for every hairstyle, rollers and special conditioner. We had makeup and purses, dresses and patent leather mary janes (only to be worn on Sunday.)

I came into this journey of mothering boys with no prior knowledge of how often they were going to use the word poop and think it’s the funniest thing they’ve ever heard. I entered into this commitment of motherhood never realizing that I would be considered the one with odd body parts.

Bella was my only one for 8 years and I have to be honest, nothing could have prepared My Bellame for the reality that is raising two boys to be productive members of society.

It is incredibly challenging, always an adventure, hours of laughter, many conversations that I don’t know the answers to, lot’s of prayer, goodnight kisses on the forehead, holding little hands while walking down the stairs, several, “I’m sorry for yellingconfessions, stock in Costco sized clorox wipes, a much larger grocery budget and a constant sense of wonder.Dahlias as big asIt now makes perfect sense to me why Chris has 2 first aid kits in our house and 1 in each car. I didn’t understand it at first, now I am so grateful for his prior knowledge of skinned knees, bumped heads and random cuts laden with dirt. I’m thankful for his preparedness for the unexpected.


I’m okay saying, “Go ask your dad.” when the boys come to me with questions about body parts I don’t have. Father and Sons

I’m okay letting them know that I don’t have all the answers.

As long as they know they are loved.
As long as they know they are enough.
As long as they know their Creator.

The days when they pull their hand from mine when walking down the sidewalk because they need to run, will be okay.

The afternoons they come in from soccer practice, cleats packed with mud and track it on my hardwood floor, will be worth it. (That’s what the vacuum is for… and swiffer… and mops.)

When I’m doing my daily round of toilet cleaning, I thank God for these little men that He is trusting me to raise.

Pure JoyI love being a mom to boys.

It’s never a dull moment. (Which is great! I bore easily.)
It’s always an adventure. (Who wants to sit around not living life anyway?)
It’s incredibly challenging. (I. Love. A. Challenge.)
It’s simple. (Have snacks EVERYWHERE you go.)
It’s immeasurably rewarding.

Okay moms of boys, sisters of brothers, wives who had no prior exposure to behind the scenes with boys, what did I leave out?

For the Volunteer

Dear Volunteer,

I am a mother of 3 and have experienced every children’s ministry environment offered at Buckhead Church. I was watching Large Group in Waumba Land Sunday morning when years of memories came flooding in. As the children raised their hands in worship, I was overcome with gratitude.

I wish I had thanked you sooner. Only, I didn’t have the words. On this day, while standing in the back watching men and women, with busy lives, volunteer to surround our preschoolers with truth and light, the words came faster than I could process them.

UpStreet, thank you for welcoming and ushering in my 7-year-old with bed head and a half eaten pop tart in his hand. Little did you know, just 5 minutes before, I was sitting in my car contemplating not coming in. You removed the weight of the world in those few moments at check-in.

Transit, thank you for sacrificing your time to my confused middle schooler (now in high school) not only on Sunday, but for retreats, special outings and all the texts/calls/emails in-between when you were the only voice of reason. In those times when my words fell on deaf ears, yours were heard, felt and followed. You didn’t know that the weeks leading up to boot camp she had contemplated suicide. Thank you for praying that prayer with her on the last night of camp. You were able to speak hope in a way that I couldn’t. I wonder how many souls have been saved because of your investment?

Waumba Land, thank you for greeting my child with a warm smile at the door when he had arms crossed, furrowed brow and feet firmly planted outside the room. Thank you for playing referee when he was “the runner.” And the times you took his hand while looking at my worried face and said, “Go to service mom. We will be just fine here” as he screamed and kicked, were the days I got the most from the message. You didn’t know this, but when my alarm went off that morning I hit snooze and strongly considered staying in bed. Your interactions with my child motivated me to get up and out even when it felt like staying home was avoiding a battle.

Host Team, thank you for making sure I don’t get lost in the crowd. I have been attending for years but there was a Sunday, last year, when I must have looked lost because several of you welcomed me and asked if you could help me find where I was going. “No thanks.” was my response, but the fact that you took notice and offered to help meant so much. You didn’t know this but the next day my 36-year-old friend passed away 9 months after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She left behind a husband and two small children my kids ages. We had grown up together and I felt like part of my childhood was buried with her that day.

Parking Team, if maintaining a highly functioning team of hundreds to get people in and out of one of the busiest areas in Atlanta was an Olympic sport, you would, without a doubt, take the gold. Thank you for showing up, rain or shine, putting on a vest and a smile and waving your flashing wand. You may not know that more than once I have tried to use the excuse of “traffic” and my preschooler would say, “Mommy, can the ninjas in orange vests with lightsabers show us where to park?” What can I say to that? Out of the mouth of babes…

Facilities and clean up crew. Thank you doesn’t even seem close to appropriate. Wow, you have a tough job and you do it seamlessly. Without you, no other environment would function and thrive.

I know you hear how much you are appreciated from those in leadership. It’s one way I’ve rationalized not writing to you. I’m just a face among many. There are thousands just like me. Unfortunately, we avoid writing letters like this one because of fear. The fear that I will leave someone or something out. The fear of not saying what I really feel…of not being able to wrap words around the impact you have had and continue to have on the lives of those you don’t even know. The next few sentences sum up the essence of this letter.

You need to know that, because of you, my life is better. My children are better. My family is better. Don’t you see, your commitment to show up week after week is changing the world outside our door. It’s enriching lives and encouraging families towards each other instead of away. What you’re doing is being the change that most only talk about and rarely do. You are leading by example and because of that, people are being reached in ways that would not have been possible were it not for your decision to serve.

Evermore thank you. From the depths of my heart….I am truly grateful.

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3 Mistakes Moms in Recovery Make

Big HeartPeople have asked me, especially now that my daughter is 15, “How do you explain your past to your children?” My answer is, “I don’t.”

Bella has always been a curious child and I am very open and honest with her. There is no other way to be if I want her to live a life that is happy, joyous and free. The questions started when she was around age 4. Questions that most teenagers are asking their friends. At first, I was surprised. “Why is she even thinking about these things? Where would she have heard that word?” When I realized that none of that mattered, I was left with a decision. How do I respond and do I integrate lessons from my past with my answer? Nothing gets your prayer life started like unlocking a closet full of skeletons.

After 11 years of conversations with my daughter, here is what I know not to be helpful when treading through unknown territory.

1.) Too much, too soon.
Guilt is an interesting thing. It almost always goes hand in hand with fear. You can bet where there is guilt, there will be fear. I have several mama friends in recovery and we have all struggled with this. Just because your child asks, doesn’t mean they want a play by play. Only say as much as needed and speak from a place of wisdom. Reverting back to a time of rebellion will only end badly.

It’s okay to tell your child that you’re not sure how to answer their question and will have to give it a few moments of thought. Do not let them leave the conversation as you may never have the opportunity again. In that moment, ask God for clear direction.

Also, you don’t have to spill your guts in one sitting. Only address the things that pertain to the question/circumstances. If my child is talking about an eating disorder, I’m not going to focus on drug use.

2.) Not enough.
Just because you were a hellion, doesn’t mean your child will be. Don’t avoid the truth for fear of passing on the curse. You are not cursed. We all acted out to some degree. For some of us it was bringing home a B on our report card. For others…well…it was in a whole different realm of behaviors.

At some point your child is probably going to ask you, “Did you ever smoke pot? Drink before you were legal? Break curfew? Have sex? Get a tattoo? …You fill in the blank. Some many people will disagree with me, but here goes…

When my children look me in the eyes and ask me a question, I answer them truthfully. To some, lying is “protecting.” No, lying is lying and once it starts it’s difficult to stop. Honesty saved me from a miserable life. It was difficult. I once lied about everything. Even when there was no cause to lie, I lied. It made getting honest foreign and all the more difficult, but so incredibly freeing on the other side.

If there is one thing I never want to be to my children, it’s hypocritical.

3.) The shame game
Shame is contagious. Make sure it ends with you.
I get it. It sucks having to come clean to a kid, but what’s even worse is hiding. Darkness leads to relapse (no matter what your vice). It’s not possible to hide in the light so take up residency there.

You may be afraid of what people will think. “I’ll never be invited to serve on the PTA or be in a moms club or lead a girl scout troop or make cookies for bible study…” Remember, if you are still looking to someone else to prove your worth, you will never “feel” good enough. Besides, most things are highly overrated in our minds.

Worried about your image? Ask yourself whose image you are shadowing. I know that I am created in the image of a God who loves me and has a great plan and purpose for my life. When I think about His image, my confidence is restored and I no longer fear the actions of man.

I can’t tell you how much is too much or how little is not enough. Even if I knew your story, I couldn’t decide that for you. I would encourage you to pray. Ask God to guide your thinking. He gives us what we need when we need it and it works out as it should. It sounds simple, because it is, but it is far from easy. Examine your motives, asking yourself, “Why do I feel the need to share this? Is it helpful? Will it only make me feel better for the few moments I am sharing it, but lead down a path I never intended?”

Most importantly, for me at least, speak from a place of love, gratitude and hope. Be a living, breathing example that no one is beyond redemption. Do not overlook consequences or give permission. Do be authentic.

In the end, love always wins.

 

This Day

Pure JoySome days just flow.
The kids don’t whine when waked up for school.
Breakfast is on the table when they come down with sleepy eyes and bed head.
They change into their clothes without being asked.
Lunches are packed.
Clean socks are waiting by shoes.
Jackets are on.
And they’re off for another day of learning and growing.
Walking out into a day paved with faith as we release them into the impeccable care of their Heavenly Father.
The house is quiet now.
The hum of the dryer is all that is heard.
The sun peeks through the clouds as snowflakes fall, quickly melting on impact.
The house is warm.
Smells of coffee and burnt cinnamon fill the air, rising to the ceiling.
It’s another day. Filled with endless possibilities. More than can be embraced.
My lips curve into a smile with teeth.
So this is grace.
This is the undeserved and grossly underrated exuberance of God.
This is the beauty of second chances.
This is light and hope. Blessings and goodness all swirled into normal.
May I remember this moment on the not so smooth days when the children whine from dawn to dusk and the pantry isn’t stocked from my lack of grocery shopping.
When there are no clean clothes and every step is a struggle.
I want to remember this warmth and calm of a peaceful heart at home.

In It to End It

fb_profile3Yesterday I disappeared…from social media, that is.
And as ridiculous and spoiled as it sounds, it was incredibly difficult.
I realized how often I quickly scroll through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest on my phone while sitting in traffic, in the carpool line, at my kitchen table, in the drive-thru at Starbucks, before falling asleep…crazy right?

It was eye-opening and heartbreaking to think of how technology has become so second nature that it’s a reflex when so many have no voice. When I want to say something, often of no importance, I hop on one of my many social media outlets and “express myself.” Yesterday, I had to stop multiple times throughout the day from logging into the loop of instant updates.

As I sit here on my chenille sofa, typing on my MacBook Pro, with a cup of hot tea at my fingertips (to help soothe the cold I feel coming on), I am forced to think of the 27 million people for sale. And it took tearing my grip from social media for 24 hours to really get my attention.

So…you may be thinking, WIIFM? Which, if you aren’t familiar with that acronym it means, “What’s In It For Me?” (We all ask it whenever faced with a difficult decision.)
Well, that depends on you. Honestly, I don’t know my part in all of this. I don’t know where my place is and how I can be an ember amid massive atrocity and unfathomable evil? The one thing I know to do is share it with you. The one thing I can do is write. So today, here in this place, I will raise awareness with my voice, for the many who’ve been silenced and left without choice. Today, I will do what I can with what I have.

What can you do? First, remember this quote that strips us of excuses while hopefully inducing laughter, “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve never been to bed with a mosquito.”

Next, watch the short clip below, think about the faces fading in and out on the screen…picture someone you know in one of these hellacious scenarios…what would you do? Where would you start? Will you share this information on your blog, website and in your social media circles? You may not think it’s a lot, but it’s so much more than nothing.

Every picture you click on in this post with the End It logo will take you to their website. I will also have a button on the right side of my site with the End It logo that will lead to their website as well.


For more information and facts on slavery, you may download these PDF documents taken directly from the END IT website. Thank you.
fb_cover4Slavery Facts
Slavery Has A Face
END IT Manifesto
Rave Card