When I Grow Up

I’m Back

After taking a break from blogging while traveling with my family, I’m back! We returned last week, but it took me a while to settle back in and help the boys readjust as well. Remember those tantrums we talked about a few weeks ago?  Well after returning from a long vacation, they are at a high!  The whining, the bickering, and the tantrums have all led me to hand over the boys to my husband for a few minutes and find a quiet place (my bedroom) to steal away and write.

Every summer, we are blessed to be able to travel home to see my family in Wisconsin. We spend a few weeks at my parent’s house and catch up with aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. These are some of my favorite weeks of the year, and I think my husband and sons would agree!

As lucky number 7 of 8 kids, I’ve always enjoyed being a part of a big family. I enjoy it even more now than I did when I was growing up, probably because I no longer live in the same house as my siblings. As an adult, I love watching my brothers as dads, I look forward to spending time with my sisters, I adore my in-laws, and I love catching up and playing with my nieces and nephews. Watching my sons interact with their cousins is amazing and priceless! I long for the day when we live closer to family so that they can spend more time with their cousins throughout the year!

But my favorite thing about going home, is being able to spend time with my parents and for the boys to have time with their Nana and Papa. It’s the best! They spoil us rotten and ensure we have the best vacation every single year. I could brag about my parents for days because they are some of the most generous and kind individuals I know.  They are generous with their time, their talents, and their resources. I cannot remember a time in my life when they weren’t intentionally seeking opportunities to serve others.

My Mom

After this most recent trip, I’ve decided that when I grow up, I want to be just like my mom. My dad is incredible too so this is not to say I don’t want to be like him. As my mom would say, “her compliment is not his insult!” And actually, growing up I remember telling people that I wanted to be my dad’s secretary some day so that I could work with him. But now as a mom, I want nothing more than to be just like my mom.

I call my mom almost every day, sometimes more than once in a day, and she never sounds annoyed or bothered. She listens to me complain and grumble about things, she counsels me when I need advice, she encourages me when I’m frustrated, she cheers me on when I’m doing something right, and most importantly, she prays for me! I didn’t realize how much I needed those prayers until I was an adult. I appreciate every single one of our phone calls and love that she’s willing to be my sounding board.

Not only do I want to be just like my mom as a mother, but I also hope to be just like my mom as a grandma someday! My mom goes out of her way to make countless special memories with her 17 and counting grandchildren. She takes them on fun “adventures,” lets them make messes they don’t have to clean, gives them Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast every morning, and takes them on night walks. They think she’s the coolest and I’d have a agree with her!

A Tradition of Values

It’s no secret where my mom gets these qualities from. She got it from her momma of course 😉 My grandma is equally as amazing as my mom and I’m so blessed to continue to spend time with her loving, witty self each summer. I feel so grateful that my grandma passed these values down to my mom and that her mom passed them down to her.  I’m grateful that I grew up with so many godly female role models in my life including these women as well as my other grandmother, my aunts, and my older sisters, sister-in-laws, and cousins.

The focus of my blog is to discuss ways to raise our sons and daughters to be mighty warriors.  Part of my passion for this topic comes from the gratitude I feel for the home I was raised in.  While I may or may not someday have a daughter to pass these lessons down to, I have four sons who I pray seek wives with these qualities.

So why do I want to be like my mom, my grandmas, my aunts, my sisters, and my cousins when I grow up? Because I want to share the love of Jesus in a kind, compassionate way. I want to pray for and encourage others, meeting them where they are in that moment. I want to be accepting of everyone and seek out opportunities to get to know others who aren’t like me. I want to be intentional in generously serving those around me. I want to listen intently to those who come to me to be heard. I want to put everything else aside to be in the moment with my family and love them fiercely. I want others who haven’t had the same experience as me as a daughter/granddaughter/niece/sister/cousin to know what it’s like to have a loving, caring cheerleader in every season of life.

Going Forward

My prayer is that I become more like these women every day.  I pray that my sons place value on these qualities as they (in the very far-off future) begin to date.  I pray that girls who do not have a female role model in their own home are able to find one in their community to lead them in His ways.  And I pray that I NEVER take for granted the beautiful women I’m surrounded by who have prepared me in my role as a wife and mother, especially my own mom!

And now, I’ll wait for a call from my mom saying how embarrassed she is that I posted all of this about her, because did I mention that she’s also incredibly humble?!? I love you, Mom!

Let’s raise His Mighty Warriors TOGETHER!

When the Nest is Attacked

The Story

A few weeks ago, I noticed a mother and a father bird building a nest in our pergola.  I had a front row seat to their cooperative effort as I watched from our kitchen window whenever I was doing the dishes.

Let me interrupt this story for a second to let you know that I prefer an empty sink after each meal.  This means that I either load the dishes into the dishwasher or hand-wash the non dishwasher-safe items (which I try to limit these days) after breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  It’s just my routine and I prefer not to step out of it.  I note this to relay that I spend a lot of time at the sink throughout my day.

Back to my story…

I found it endearing to watch the mother and father “nest” and couldn’t help but think about each time we prepared to welcome one of our sons into our family.  So much time is spent making sure our hearts and our home are prepped for a little one.

Once the nest was completed, the mother rested and laid the eggs and the father came and went to check in.  In the meantime, my sons and I affectionately named the birds.  I chose Harriet for the mommy and they picked T’Challa (after the superhero Black Panther) for the daddy.

Like a dream, the eggs hatched on Mother’s Day.  I’ll be honest and say that I was somewhat obsessed with checking in on the family at this point without bothering them.  Other than my husband grilling a few times, we stayed out of the backyard to give them their space.  Cute, right?!

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve watched Harriet care for her babies so gently.  She only left to find food to bring back to the nest, allowed her babies to nuzzle under her wings, and kept a watchful eye on anyone or anything that she saw as a threat.  Again, this scene consumed me a little more than I’d like to admit considering I’m not especially an animal person and usually don’t like to be too close in proximity to birds.  I even went as far as Googling questions I had about birds in general.  Ask my husband, I love to Google, but even this was a little extreme for me.

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Meet Harriet and her babies (who are camouflaged in there). Please excuse the poor quality of the photo. I didn’t want to get too close to the nest so I zoomed in quite a bit.

This morning as I was washing the breakfast dishes, I gazed and daydreamed about watching the mother release these little birds to fly off.  I wondered if she would ever see them again and if the siblings would stick together.  (Yes, I know I’m crazy at this point). It was all so sweet….

Until it wasn’t.  This evening when I was making dinner, I realized that the birds were gone and the nest didn’t seem intact.  And there was a stray cat in our backyard next to some feathers.  I didn’t shed a tear, but I was pretty angry with the cat, who we can all assume is the suspect in this disaster.

I no longer would be able to witness the baby birds learn how to fly or see their happily ever after. We gently told the boys what we think might have happened (they seemed more intrigued than sad), and went on with our night.

But I can’t stop thinking about it!

Attacks to our nest

So where am I going with this depressing story?  Well, unfortunately, we all experience attacks on our nests.  The focus of these attacks are on our marriages, on our parenting, and on our relationships with others.  The attacks come in the form of comparisons on social media, bullying, and insecurities.  They come from our discontentment in a world where the Jones’ always seem to be doing something bigger and better.  They come from advertisements and media that desensitize us to sex and violence.

Before we even bring our babies home from the hospital, we dream.  We dream about what it’s going to be like to have a new son or daughter.  We dream about who they are going to be friends with, where they will go to school, and what hobbies they will enjoy.  We dream about taking them on their first trip and introducing them to our favorite places.

When we finally bring them home, we realize that these dreams seem so distant.  Because in the present, we receive opinions from everyone and their best friend, spoken and unspoken.  We see what other parents are doing as we scroll through Facebook and Instagram and begin to feel inferior about the choices we are making.  Are we doing too much?  Are we not doing enough?  Are we becoming THAT mom?

My kids are still young, but already I have the fears of when they begin to be more influenced by their friends from school.  And don’t even talk to me about when they get to the age of having their own phone or social media accounts!  There is so much yuck out there for them to be exposed to!  (I already have lots of conversations with God about these concerns of mine so that He can be prepared for my crazy when these days arrive…and so that I can work on laying my worries at His feet in the meantime.)

And, like I mentioned, it’s not just our parent-child relationships being attacked.  It’s our marriages because we no longer make time for each other.  It’s our families because we spend so much time passing each other by on our way to and from activities.  Our priorities slowly shift over time and before we know it, we’re all just roommates!

Self-Defense

So how do we fight these pervasive battles?  How do we prevent our nests from being torn apart?

We begin by tuning out the opinions of the world and focusing on the opinion of One.  The One that matters.  The One who sees us trying our best on the little sleep we’re getting.  The One who knows the child we are dealing with because He created that child and chose us to be the parents.  The One who equips us with everything we need to care for our children.  And the One who gives us grace in every moment to reset.

We do this by surrounding ourselves with other parents who we respect.  We find and rely on our mom tribe for care and support.  We turn off the TV and put our phones down to enjoy a family game night.  We find a babysitter and schedule a date night, or have a date night at home after the kids go to bed.  We monitor what our children are watching.  We intentionally seek out relationships with people who will encourage us in our walk.  We equip ourselves with Scripture to intentionally fight the attacks.  And we pray…a lot!

It’s worth fighting for

Our homes are sacred.  Our marriages are sacred.  And this is exactly why they are being attacked.  Can we make a pact to fight together for our homes, our marriages, our families, and our relationships?   Instead of focusing on the agendas of the media, opinions of others, and the expectations of the world, can we promise to focus on what’s best for us and our families, seeking first His will for our lives?

Poor Harriet didn’t have a fighting chance once her nest was attacked because she was alone.  She did the best she could to care for her babies.  But luckily for us, we are not in this battle alone.  We have a sovereign Father who is with us every step of the way.  And we have others around us who want to help us protect our nests.  Take heart knowing that when we look to the Lord and do the best we can do with what we have, we’ll be just fine.

I’d love to hear from you on how you protect your nest.  I enjoy hearing your experiences and trying out new things in our home.

Let’s raise His Mighty Warriors TOGETHER!

A word on social media:

I love social media for many reasons.  Living so far from my extended family, it’s a great way to “stay in touch” with relatives and friends, sharing pictures and stories.

But I also try to be aware of when it’s affecting me negatively.  When I notice I’m starting to compare myself to others and discontentment is creeping in, I take a break.  I highly recommend doing the same if you notice those feelings in yourself.

Who, Me?

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Tantrums

Tantrums.  Can we talk about tantrums for a second? That moment when you say no to a snack ten minutes after your child finished eating their breakfast, and now their world is falling apart?  It’s literally crumbling before your eyes as your toddlers throws himself on the floor and begins the most pathetic scene, screaming and crying and making every weird noise known to man.

I’m very familiar with this drama.  I’d love to say I only see it from my almost two year-old, but I’d be lying.  More often than not, my three year-old and five year-old throw these fits and it’s just too much for me.

I’ll be honest

Now I am NOT a parenting expert, nor do I claim to be!  I do have a masters degree in psychology, but if I’m being honest, a lot of the theories I learned in my schooling get thrown out the window when I’m in the midst of a parenting battle.  Like many of you, I’m a mom who is trying to do my best to, along with my husband, to raise our boys to be men after God’s own heart.

Easy, right?!? Bring them to church, pray with them, read them stories from the Bible, and that’s that.  I wish!  Those things, while still important, are relatively easy to check off the list.  What I’ve found to be the hardest part, is teaching them through my own actions.

Sometimes, my kids hear me yell at them.  It’s not my best example of kindness.  Sometimes, they see me roll my eyes at my husband.  That’s not the way I want them to treat their future spouse.  It’s not uncommon for me to be “busy” doing something and only half-listening to something they are trying to tell me.  I definitely don’t want them to respond that way when God is speaking to them.  I could go on and on.

My point is, so often we look at how we can change our kids.  We seek to find the problem in them and search for a way to fix it.  I do it too.  I’ve spent hours reading parenting books and Googling answers on how to combat whining.  But what God always points me back to, is myself and my own heart.

Wait, what?

Ouch, that’s a tough one to swallow.  It’s tough because I need to be reminded of my own attitude and character every day.  Actually, many times each day!  How I respond to my children, how I speak to my husband, and how I interact with strangers all set the stage for how my sons are going to respond in situations.  I have little eyes and ears on me at all times and trust me, they are watching and absorbing everything!

Every once in a while, I’ll hear my oldest son say something in a tone that I know he heard from me.  It stings!  But, it’s a learning opportunity for both of us.

So where’s the hope?

The hope in all of this?  God’s grace.  Knowing that He will use all of my mistakes for His good gives me peace at night.  That doesn’t mean I don’t have to give my fair share of apologies to my boys throughout the day, but it does mean I can have peace knowing that God is with me through it all and directing my paths as well as my sons’ paths.

I recently read a prayer for parents in this book that not only asked God for grace when we fall short as a parent, but also that our children forget our harshness in those moments.  I loved this prayer because kids seem to remember EVERYTHING!

“I often find myself on my knees in my kids’ room after they’ve fallen asleep on a “yelling day.”  Not only do I ask forgiveness from God for mistreating the beautiful gifts He has given me, but I also pray that my kids will forget my harshness.  I know that it’s only by God’s grace that I’m a parent, and I have to rely on that grace every day” (Mary in Turansky and Miller, 2017).

Bringing it back to the kids

Some of you might be wondering about those tantrums and other difficult behavior kids demonstrate.  Does this make it all okay?  Absolutely not!  It doesn’t let them off the hook for their misbehavior or excuse their disobedience.  That’s not at all my point.  We most definitely need to address our children’s heart issues and disobedience.  But we also need to look at where they might be learning it from and make some changes.

Again, I’m not an expert on this topic.  I’m only five years into this parenting role.  But I enjoy sharing my experiences and what God continues to show me through it.  I’d love to hear from you on what lessons God has taught you through your kids!

As always, let’s raise His mighty warriors TOGETHER!

NOTE: I would highly recommend “Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character…In You and Your Kids” by Scott Turansky, D. MIN and Joanne Miller, R.N., B.S.N..  The book is incredible and gives practical advice for changing bad habits in you and your kids. Check out the book here.

Turansky, S & Miller, J. (2017). Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character…In you and Your Kids. New York: Waterbrook Press.

Finding Your Tribe

I have said it before, and I’ll never tire of saying it again…when you become a mommy, find your tribe!  If you’re already a mom, it’s never too late if you haven’t found yours already.

What’s this “tribe” I speak of?  It’s your support network.  It’s the moms you can rely on to pick up your child from preschool because your baby got sick.  It’s the friend you meet for ice cream after the kids go to bed.  It’s the moms you meet at the park for a playdate, as much for yourselves as for your kids to play.  It’s the shoulders you cry on when being a mom is feeling too overwhelming.

And the best part?! Your tribe will get it every.single.time!  These moms understand whining and tantrums.  They get the endless to-do list and the feeling of drowning in household chores.  They relate to the busy schedules of husbands and the challenges of marriage.  And they share in your sorrows and your joys.

I believe this group, however big or small, is crucial for all moms whether they work in the home or out of the home.  The women in your tribe may change in different seasons of your life or you may have them around for life.  Either way, it’s okay!

After joining my first mom’s group at our former church (see more in my Raising Mighty Warriors blog post) and finally getting to know some of the women, my husband and I moved to a new city about an hour away.  While this was a great move for our family, I found myself feeling lonely.  At this point we had a one and a half year-old son and I was 6 months pregnant with our second son.

About two months later and just a few weeks before our son was due, I found a mom’s group at our new church.  Like I did the first time at our former church, I convinced my introvert self to go and see what it was all about.  Once again, I was slightly intimidated and nervous, but almost four years later I can say that it was one of the better decisions I’ve made as a mom!

Yes, it’s super awkward putting yourself out there and meeting new moms.  For introverts like myself, it is unnatural and incredibly uncomfortable.  Oftentimes, we walk into a group like this and many of the moms already know each other.  It’s like the first day of high school all over again!  Ugh, that makes me feel sick to my stomach just thinking about it!  But I’ve found that with an open attitude and a whole lot of prayer, it’s not that bad.

The hardest but most important part?  Keep going back!  If you don’t meet your best friend the first week, don’t be discouraged.  Go back!  Honestly, it’ll probably takes weeks, maybe months to connect on a more than superficial level.  Maybe it’ll only be with one mom from the group.  But do you know what?  That’s one more mom on your team than you had before.

Maybe you’re blessed and live close by your sisters, sister-in-laws, cousins, or best friends.  Maybe these women already make up your tribe and you don’t need to rely on others.  Can I challenge you with something? Look for moms who don’t have the luxury of family and friends near by and invite them in.  I can promise you that they are desperate for some mommy friends!

Maybe a church group isn’t for you or your church doesn’t have one.  That’s fine too!  Find, or start, a local moms playgroup at a park.  Or just take your kids to the park and instead of sitting on a bench by yourself scrolling through social media (I’m guilty of this too), reach out to another mom there and engage in conversation.  Again, awkward for many of us?  Absolutely!  Will it lead to a long-term friendship?  Not always, but what if it does?

Maybe it’s an online community to start.  Great!  Start there. Maybe your kids are in school or are involved in extra-curricular activities.  Can you take that uncomfortable step to introduce yourself to the parents of the other kids?  It might just be worth it.

If you’re feeling stuck in this area, I’d love for you to reach out to me and we can brainstorm some other ideas.  But I promise you, finding your tribe will make a world of difference in being your best mommy self!

I’d love to hear from those of you who already have your tribe!  Where did you find the women you do life with?  Please share in the comments.

Let’s raise His mighty warriors (our sons and our daughters) TOGETHER!

Raising Mighty Warriors

Thanks for joining me on this journey!

Before our first son was born, my husband and I made the decision together that I was going to be a stay-at-home mom.  This was a dream come true for me!  We knew we wanted to grow our family quickly (we weren’t joking…we now have four boys, five years-old and younger), and I wanted to be home with them at least in their youngest years.

However, I didn’t realize what a challenge this would be without my extended family close by.  I am number seven of eight children and the furthest from our hometown of Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Living in California, we have very little family near us to help us out.

I quickly found that I needed to find my “tribe” to help me through these young mommy years.  I was invited to a mom’s group at our church and was quite intimidated when I first joined.  Many of the moms were “veterans” and seemingly had everything figured out with more than one kid.  Not to mention the fact that they all seemed to already know each other.

But what kept me returning week after week was the study we were going through,  Priscilla Shirer’s “Gideon.” Without getting into the entire story of Gideon in the Bible, Gideon and his men were the underdogs charged by God to defeat a strong, Midianite army.  Before going into battle, an angel appeared to Gideon and said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior” (Judges 6:12 NIV).

Ever since that mom’s group study, this verse has stuck with me.  If there is one thing I want my husband and I to teach our sons, it is that because God is with them, always, they have the strength to be His mighty warriors.  It’s as true for my sons as it is for myself.  In my weakness, God shines.

Through this blog, I hope to inspire others as I share my everyday mommy moments.  If God can use not only my successes, but also my failures and insecurities as a mom to encourage one other person, than this blog is worth it.

Let’s raise His mighty warriors (ours sons and our daughters) TOGETHER!

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” -Judges 6:12 (NIV)

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