Monthly Archives: May 2012

Encouragement for Moms to Remember

My good friend Mandie was kind enough to wrap up this month of motherhood on the blog with a powerful reminder to all of us bearing the honorable, challenging privilege that it is to be a mom. I’m confident you will find encouragement in her words as with all of the other fantastic guest posts the past few weeks. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for each precious woman who has taken time away from her busy life to share a little bit of her story here at Exceptionally Average. I pray there are many more women’s words that will grace this blog in the months and years to come. ~Kelly

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Being a mom is hard. In fact, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I know I’m not alone in the challenges that are set before me each day. While the blessings of having children are absolutely worth every drop of sweat and each frustrated tear, sometimes us mommies just need some encouragement on this crazy yet wonderful journey.  I invite you to soak in these words as I remind you of what you already know and pray the Lord uses His Word to speak to your heart about one of the greatest gifts on earth… motherhood.

  • To the mom who sometimes doubts the path she’s chosen, even after following her heart…
  • To the mom who wants to pull the covers back over her head, no matter how sweet that little voice is that just wants his morning chocolate milk and cartoon…
  • To the mom who just yelled at her kids after telling them countless times to stop hitting each other and is weary from hashing out consequence after consequence AND it’s only 9 am …
  • To the mom who thinks she might throw the fridge if she has to drag herself in the kitchen one more time to cook a meal her children complain about that she bribes them to eat with candy …
  • To the mom who feels friendless because after caring for her children, she feels she has absolutely nothing left to give to a friend …
  • To the mom who can’t find a moment to go to the bathroom, much less brush her hair and has forgotten how to even apply makeup ….
  • To the mom who wants so badly to be intimate with her husband but can barely make it to the bed before passing out from complete exhaustion …
  • To the mom who would give anything for a maid to come and do the mountain of endless laundry or scrub the dirty bathrooms …
  • To the mom who tries to plan fun outings for her children but they end up with tantrums and nothing ever goes as it seems it should …
  • To the mom who used to own a cute, clean sports car that has now turned into a SUV full of car seats, spoiled apple juice sippy cups, banana peals, and Lego pieces…
  • To the mom who turns to chocolate instead of the treadmill out of frustration …
  • To the mom who’s budget is busting at the seams and could have gone on that beach bound vacation with the money spent on diapers over the past year…
  • To the mom who just can’t put on the smile today and pretend like everything is OK around the other moms who seem to have it all together…
  • To the mom who thought this motherhood journey would be a little easier than it has turned out to be …
  • To the mom who fails every single day…

“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” Romans 8:28 

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Remember.

  • Remember to trust in God that every little detail fits into a pattern for good even though it may be hard to see in the midst of the chaos.
  • Remember that our mistakes and sins can be turned into something good by God’s grace.
  • Remember when life gets messy and you find yourself yelling out of frustration, then sitting in the middle of the floor with your children on your lap asking for forgiveness, thus teaching repentance through prayer, they witness it all.  They take in the ugly with the good and grow from it.
  • Remember to live above your circumstances, accept each day as it comes, and find Him in the midst of it all.
  • Remember to pause before responding to frustrations, allowing the Spirit to act through you, gracing your words and behavior.
  • Remember the Lord loves you for who you are, not for all that you do.
  • Remember to impress realness on your children by showing them that it’s OK to fail and how to try again.
  • Remember to show your little ones Jesus everyday by modeling what it looks like to be completely inadequate to do it all alone, yet faithfully turn to God’s grace.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:7-9

God gave your children exactly the mother they needed. God doesn’t make mistakes. Every single detail of your life is carefully orchestrated by God for His glory. God Himself gave you those sweet little ones with a purpose and that should bring you great comfort! Don’t compare your weaknesses to another mom’s strengths. Don’t be discouraged in your shortcomings, for God monitors all of your efforts and attempts. He knows your heart!  I pray you experience joy and peace that can only come from above today as you live out one of the most precious purpose that God has placed before you…motherhood!

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If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

Seasons

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for 100 free prints from Shutterfly. The contest ends at midnight tonight!

I’m really excited to have Courtney sharing on the blog today! I met Courtney about a month ago when I joined in the fun with Jen from Finding Heaven’s Soli Deo Gloria small groups. Courtney is my small group leader, and I’m in love with her genuine, encouraging blog! She graciously offered to write a guest post for me when I sent out a plea for help a couple of weeks ago. Moms, prepare to feel your stressed-out hearts receive some encouragement today!


Last week, I found myself listening to a podcast from Steady Mom, where Jamie and Erin talked about managing seasons, among other things. I nodded my head as I folded laundry, and I chuckled at how God always makes me hear what I need to, when I need to.

Jamie talked about identifying and embracing whatever season of motherhood you are in.  Maybe you need to focus on the behavior of one child for a while. Maybe you are up all night with a baby, and need to cut back on day time activities and rest. Maybe you finally have time to exercise or pursue that long-shelved hobby, but you haven’t given yourself permission to do it. Whatever the situation, it helps to view these changing phases of motherhood as seasons – they won’t last forever. Seeing it from that perspective provides motivation to either to seize the moment or endure the test. The season will (eventually) change.

Their discussion prompted me to evaluate the swirl that has been this spring for us. In the motherhood category, I am in a season where naps are ending. The rhythm of our days has shifted from go-pause-go, to go-go-go. The boys are losing interest in trains. Super heroes and battles rule the day. No one is a toddler anymore, and both boys may remember parts of this summer well into adulthood. In addition, preschool is over for my oldest. We’ve had our last leisurely morning, lingering until 9:00 a.m. In mid August, his school day will start at 7:30 a.m. Our world is about to be rocked. I want to enjoy this summer.

In order to do that, I need to make some changes. One of the biggest is that I need to be more fully present. It is not good for me to be distracted by thoughts of, “If they would just go to their rooms for an hour, then I could write.” That leads to frustration, because if they go to their rooms, I don’t get all Ralph Waldo Emerson. I can’t just sit down and churn something out in 47 minutes with 84 interruptions. Furthermore, I don’t want to be the mom who says, “Not now,” to “Will you play with me?” because of other responsibilities that I’ve procrastinated on, like cleaning, cooking or managing schedules and finances. Unfortunately, I’ve been this frustrated, behind, and distracted mom lately, because I haven’t recognized our changing season. I’ve been trying to fit what used to work into our present reality. Guess what? It doesn’t fit.

My mission this summer is to figure out what fits us now. I need to adjust my  “schedule” (I put that in quotes because I’d hate for you to think that I really have one), my expectations, and my perspective. I need to find ways for the days to flow a little easier for everyone in our house. I’m not sure how to do that yet, but I know that it starts with recognizing, and embracing, our season.

Courtney is a stay-at-home mom who is still adjusting to that changing season after leaving the full time practice of law five years ago. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina, where she mothers two young boys and tries to find time to hang out with her super husband, too. She blogs at A Work in Progress.

 

 

 

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

A Box of Chalk + Giveaway

She has no idea I’m sharing this until she reads it, but I have to tell you that Ashley applied what she talks about in this post to me in many ways last week. First off, she wrote this post for me when I asked for guest posters. She also rearranged our playdate plans and hauled all three of her children to my house when I couldn’t drive because of my injury, AND she showed up with two meals for me to stick in the freezer since I can’t cook much right now. That, my friends, is love in action. Thank you, Ashley, for being a genuine friend that shows the love of Christ to others such as me!

Teachers' Tool
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It was the first week of my first year of teaching and one of the hardest weeks of my life.  I was starting three weeks into the school year; I was commuting 40 minutes to work; and the squirrely 8th graders had already broken in three different teachers when they got me.  They were fully accustomed to considering the language arts period as playtime.  They took one look at 23 year old me and decided it would remain play time.  I had other plans.

I arrived early every day and stayed late.  I went home frustrated over the behavior of the students.  I sent three students to the principal’s office that first week.  I was three weeks behind on the curriculum and trying desperately to get a handle on it.  And to top off all these bigger concerns, the previous teacher had purposely stripped the classroom of all things useful.  I had no supplies.  None.   I remember my shaky knees on those first days as I stood before the class in that drafty old classroom and wrote my name on the board with a piece of chalk the size of my pinky fingernail.  It was terrible.

So you can imagine my feelings when I received a large brown box in the mail from my mother-in-law, Sandy, and opened it up to find every kind of school supply a teacher could need—including two big boxes of white chalk.  I’m pretty sure that I cried over that chalk.

It’s only one occasion of countless times my mother-in-law has shown love through gift giving or acts of service. My husband and I have moved three times in seven years of marriage and each time, she has cleaned our new home from top to bottom before we moved in.  God has uniquely equipped her to show love through gift-giving and service.

1 John 3:18 says, “Let us not love with words or tongue with but with actions and in truth.”

I have to admit, it is easier for me to love with words and tongue. I am a communicator. I write and I speak and language is my love language.  I can speak words of encouragement, write an email, talk one-on-one and these are my favorite ways to show love.  But through my mother-in-law and many people who have shown me love through acts of service or a thoughtful gift, I have learned the value of being loved this way.

The Bible specifically instructs me to love with actions and in truth. This implies that it is possible to speak something with your tongue that is not true enough to show in your actions. Talk is cheap. I know this is sometimes true with me. I say I am so concerned about someone who is in the hospital, but am I concerned enough to visit or drop a meal off for the family? Sometimes I am too busy, too lazy, or too unconcerned. Sometimes I am intimidated or overwhelmed with the needs of my own family.

But I want to grow in loving people this way, even though it does not come as naturally for me.  James chapter 4 also tells me that, Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”  Often I think of a kind action to do for someone or a gift that would bless them, but fail to carry out those good intentions.  Remembering what that box of chalk meant to me is inspiration to bless others as I have been blessed. I’m grateful to my mother-in-law for showing me this kind of love.

Lord, may my actions reflect your Father-love toward others and my gifts reflect your grace.

Giveaway! If you could use 100 free pictures from Shutterfly, please leave a comment then enter your name in the giveaway box below telling us one action you could take or gift you could give this week to show love to someone.  Then go do it!  If you are the winner of the drawing, Kelly will send you the code for the free pictures via email. Thanks!

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A believer and a dreamer. A pastor’s wife and a mama to three. A little creative and a little messy. Imperfection guaranteed. By the grace of God, I am who I am and His grace to me has not been without effect. Ashley blogs over at Little Pieces of Ordinary. A place where she shares how God reveals His grace to her through the everyday occurrences of life.

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

 

The Heartbeat of Hope (On potty -training strong-willed children)

I’m happily welcoming back Ashley today. Her words give hope to this mama of a not-quite-completely potty trained boy, and I’ve a feeling I’m not alone. ~Kelly

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Several weeks ago, I really thought I’d never see this day.
My strong-willed son pooped in the potty for the fifth time this week, AND stayed dry through his nap.

Yes, I feel like such a mom for celebrating that achievement and slightly abashed to be using the word poop on a blog post.  But as my four year old daughter Abby told me last night,

“You shouldn’t talk about poop, Mommy. And speaking of poop, I just tooted. And I laughed so hard I might throw up!”

So, there you go. I shouldn’t talk about poop, but speaking of poop, FIVE times!

But back to Benjamin. We’d tried everything for potty training. Everything. And I was losing hope faster than a toilet flushes (or doesn’t flush in our case). We’d already successfully potty-trained one child, albeit a girl, so I knew the ropes and I knew we were doing what we should be doing, yet without any success.  The root of the issue was that Benjamin is a strong-willed child and he did not care to apply that strong will towards using the potty.  We had tried coaxing, encouraging, threatening, and scolding and all we found was that you can lead a child to the potty, but you can’t make him. . . well, you know.

So, I prayed. I walked and I prayed and I poured out my heart to God about Benjamin. He was wearing me down with his will. This conversation with God went on for several days. And God began to do the thing he does so well: impart wisdom.  He showed me it wasn’t just about the potty; it was Ben’s obedience as a whole. On the surface, it looked like several issues, but underneath it was one common root: obedience. That was my starting place.

Then I starting reading Dr. Dobson’s The New Strong Willed Child. Here,  I found my beloved son in the pages, and hope began to bloom again in my heart. He’s not alone; I’m not alone. There are many parents out there who have felt like I’ve felt and many strong-willed children who grew into mature, solid adults.

Hope is where it’s at. Hope is the heartbeat of the soul, like blood to the body. When the heart begins to despair, everything withers.

With Benjamin, I began to crack down on obedience. Obedience had always been a high priority for us, but we discovered, along with all parents of strong-willed children, you can’t fight every battle or your entire day will be a battle. It’s a balance to choose your battles without letting the child “rule the roost” as they say.  So, I began to shift that balance.

The effects were immediate and fierce. Ben rebelled against the changes. He spent several mornings and afternoons in time-out, hands in lap, facing the wall. He had to visit the potty every hour and sit there after lunch and dinner. He hated it and he fought back. I knew consistency was my best ally, but still it was hard. I was exhausted every evening.  I kept Ecclesiastes 7:8 on a note card by my desk:

The end of a matter is better than it’s beginning, and patience is better than pride.

And then, a turning point. The first bowel movement success, rewarded with a cherished Spiderman toy. (We had discovered that unlike our sweet-loving daughter, Benjamin was not motivated by food rewards.) And then another success, rewarded with a dollar-store bow and arrow set ($2). And then another.  In between all these little potty successes, another change was happening. Benjamin began to relinquish his fierce resistance.  He began to show a sweet side he’d been hiding for awhile. He would voluntarily hug me fiercely and tell me he loved me. For the first time, he submitted to the new potty schedule, even reading books on the potty on his own.

Dr. Dobson says that there are certain children who must test their authority very thoroughly before they will submit to their leadership.  I’m sure there are many more battles to come, but sometimes it seems like just when you think a phase is going to kill you, it passes. And for this little season, it seems we’ve been tried, tested and approved.

If you are a potty-training parent of a strong-willed child, take heart. There is hope. And after the storm, the calm is well-worth the effort

A believer and a dreamer. A pastor’s wife and a mama to three. A little creative and a little messy. Imperfection guaranteed. By the grace of God, I am who I am and His grace to me has not been without effect. Ashley blogs over at Little Pieces of Ordinary. A place where she shares how God reveals His grace to her through the everyday occurrences of life.

 

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

These Are a Few of my Favorite Things: Books Edition

If you’re a regular around here, you know me pretty well. Did you know, however, that during this time of paring back on writing while I wait on my hand to heal, that I’m using this extra time to pray for you even more? Well now you do.

And here’s the thing. Usually you hear a lot about me and what God’s showing me in my life, but I desperately want to know each of you more. Whether we know each other virtually or in person, there’s always more that we can learn about each other. So will you humor me for a few minutes? Will you take a couple of minutes and participate in this old-school survey kind of like what we used to fill out in our high school days? Pretty please? For me? Either in a comment, on your own blog (just be sure to leave a comment with the link), on Facebook, or if you’re more of a private person, via email. The point is we both get to know each other better, and this is a fun way to do it.

If this is your first time here at Exceptionally Average, welcome! I can’t think of a better way for us to get acquainted than through this equally dorky and awesome method.

My Favorite Things: Books Edition

*Disclaimers: 1) The links below are my affiliate links. I mostly included them so you can see pictures of the books because I like to see book covers when people talk about them. On the off chance you choose to purchase one of the books through these links, I will make a small commission.
2) The Bible is my favorite book. Obviously it is my source of life, inspiration, learning, hope, growth, and answers. But I’m not using it as any of my answers here so you can know what other books I like. Also, as much as I love Sunday school (I really do!), I don’t want to start a chain reaction of “Sunday school” answers. 🙂

1. Favorite classic fiction book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (I recently learned Miss Lee is writing a new novel. I am so excited!!!!!)

2. Favorite Christian fiction book: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

3. Favorite contemporary fiction book: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Side note: I can’t make myself read too much depressing stuff at once, so I only read the summaries of the next two books so I could find out the important details – like if and who Katniss chose to marry. Haha!)

4. Favorite nonfiction book: Dancing on my Ashes by Heather Gilion and Holly Snell (Fun fact: One of the sisters who wrote this book lives close to me, so I kind of made a point to show up at Panera when she was there so I could meet her. She encouraged me so much as a woman and a writer.)

5. Favorite parenting book: Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp (Most parenting books make me feel awful or frustrated because we aren’t living out the “perfect formula,” but this one was both helpful and encouraging to me.)

6. Favorite Bible study: A tie between The Patriarchs by Beth Moore and Duty or Delight? by Tammie Head


7. Book(s) I’m currently reading: You Are a Writer by Jeff Goins and Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman


8. Favorite children’s book: You Are Special by Max Lucado

9. Book that made me cry the most: Ever After by Karen Kingsbury

10. Favorite movie based on a book: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Now it’s your turn! What are your favorite things when it comes to books? If you don’t have time to answer all ten, pick at least three and share them with me somewhere! Also share any prayer requests you may have. I would love to pray about your specific burdens and needs.

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

For When It Feels Easier to Just be Swallowed Up

I’d be lying if I said that going from being a somewhat normal woman to a one-handed, more-clumsy-than-usual, completely-dependent-on-others one is no big deal to me. I know it could be so much worse, and I am grateful for the generosity and love that has been shown to me since the unhappy moment when I dropped that silly soap dish. But I feel it. The frustration at being unable to even put my hair in a ponytail. The guilt at putting on a movie for my little guy when we would normally be outside together. Then my sweet friend Sarah encouraged me when she answered my plea for guest posts with these incredibly encouraging words. I love this girl and her beautiful heart! ~Kelly

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I sit, a bit discouraged, at my kitchen table that is “decorated” with baby socks, spelling worksheets, sippy cups, a purse, leftover slices of banana, and this laptop.
To my left on the counter next to the sink are two casserole dishes half full of water, still soaking from supper last night.

In my mind the reminder of deadlines for three articles leave it hard to concentrate. There are laundry baskets with clothes that need put away and a yet-to-be-washed pile of jeans at the foot of the bed.

I wonder why I have not heard back from that job opportunity I thought was heaven-sent. The one that would be perfect, or at least that’s what I think. The response I keep getting from them is that they have their own deadlines they are dealing with, but they promise they do want to work with me on this opportunity.

I am not a patient person.

Today is the last day of preschool and both daughters have school programs tonight. The husband is on duty at the fire station, although he has someone working for him from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. so that I don’t have to go it alone tonight. Literally, thank God on this one.
Our youngest daughter turns four on Saturday, which means the house will need to be cleaned, beds readied for out-of-town visitors, a cake baked and decorated…oh wait, first I need to buy the stuff to bake the cake and make the frosting…

Then there is the ever-present worry about money. And what am I going to do with the three kids all summer long.

Life has a way of swallowing me up sometimes…if I let it. And sometimes it seems easier just to let it. Sometimes it seems easier to just hunker down and pray that it passes over me. Because life gives us plenty of reasons to want to give up and give in.

But today I take a deep breath in, look outside at the blue sky and know, without a doubt, that God is good. All the time. Not only is He good, He is here for me. Always. He is here to help me find peace…for the little things and the big things.

So friends, can I just remind you today to turn to Him, with all of it? Maybe you are being faced with a huge trial or heartache. Or maybe you are being overwhelmed by the everyday clutter. Maybe you fear that nothing will ever be good again or maybe you fear waking up and facing the day.

No matter what, God is with you and He is there to help you through it.

Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
    ~Isaiah 41:10

Sarah is the wife of a professional firefighter and mom of three children under the age of 7. She has been navigating the murky waters of stay-at-home-momhood for over a year now. She relies on her faith in God to see her through it all as she tries to be a faithful servant, share her heart with other women, mother her children and love and respect her husband. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord.” You can follow her over at In Total Disarray.

Seasons: Where Balance is Found

I’ve spent a lot of hours trying to figure out what balanced life should look like. The answer finally came to me on a sweet spring morning. Join me over at Always Alleluia to see what I learned. While you’re there, take some time to get to know Kris, the sweet and talented author of the blog. You will be blessed by her.

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.