Category Archives: Guest Posts

Hitting Reboot: The Painful Process of Being Made New

One thing I’m growing to appreciate the older I get is the fact that, like it or not, more comfortable or less, change is part of what we do as people.

I think, as much as many of us resist the idea of change, we all have a deep-down desire to change something about ourselves at any given time in our lives. Do you agree?

Then life happens. Sometimes we hit a boring stretch where we feel we aren’t doing much changing and all we want is to get past this seemingly pointless time in our lives. “Once I’m done with _________, life will be better.” Eventually we run into a trying time where we think, “Once this craziness is over, life will be back to normal.”

I’m sharing over at the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood blog today a little about how my journey through changing has led to me hitting reboot recently. I’m sharing the highlights (and quite a few lowlights) of what has been happening in my life recently. I’d love for you to read it for yourself and then share with me your thoughts, stories, or struggles in the journey of changing. Being made new is worth it!

 

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

http://media-cache3.pinterest.com/upload/240590805063566002_Xn3Ugvjt_c.jpg

Source

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 

 http://media-cache3.pinterest.com/upload/176695985349939856_ES2thXXD_c.jpg

Source

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!

http://media-cache1.pinterest.com/upload/199213983486717758_FS8P8mlw_c.jpg
Source

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
Photo Credit

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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Photo Credit

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.

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

Photo Credit

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.

Mothering Gone Awry {Guest Post}

I’m really excited to have my Aunt Kim guest posting on the blog today. She has raised three outstanding children who were my best friends growing up. Kim has not only been a great example of a good mother, but she’s also invested in the lives of women in her community by hosting in-home Bible studies and always maintaining the house people want to be at. She continues to inspire and challenge me, and I know she’ll do the same for you today in her post.

It seems that the need to mother is one that every little girl possesses. I remember very distinctly feeding, diapering, rocking and bathing all my baby dolls. My mom taught me how to swaddle, and I spent a long time swaddling and re-swaddling – a skill I was happy to know when my real babies came along!

Mothering is a good thing – to a point. The real skill, however, is to know when NOT to mother, when to take your hands off and let your child learn for himself. For someday your 18 years will be accomplished, and  it will be time to you push your little bird out of the nest. It’s a tough job letting go and ending that stage of mothering, but it would be an unhealthy relationship if the mothering continued at the same capacity our entire life. I would like to encourage you to begin this letting go process while your children are young, little by little.

It’s equally important to learn to let go of mothering when it comes to marriage. Marriages where the wife won’t let go of her assumed mothering responsibilities will always be difficult and should be avoided at all costs.

Because mothering is in our nature and some of us feel the need to do it so strongly, we might (just maybe) tend to mother someone who already has his own mother. Our husband! Men call this nagging but really, it’s mothering.

“Honey, do you really need to get up in the middle of the night and eat ice cream? It’s not good for your stomach and it will make you gain weight!”

“Please wash your hands before you eat that!”

“Maybe you should unplug that before you work on it.”

“You don’t drink enough water… You use too much salt… That costs too much.”

On and on the list could go. In our mothering minds, these all seem like pretty common sense things, but our husbands don’t seem to know any of them, and we believe it is our job to make sure they do!

This tendency may get worse as we get older. Maybe it is because we don’t have our kids around anymore to mother. Maybe it is just because we care deeply for our spouse and only want the best for them. Regardless, we have to relinquish this need to mother our husbands just as we have to cut the apron strings from our own children. God’s Word tells us to submit to our husbands in the Lord (Ephesians 5:22). It’s pretty hard to submit to someone we see as our child.

For those of us who have the desire to mother those we love the most all of the time, it’s important that we keep our actions in check. Children should be submitting to moms and dads, and wives should be submitting to their husbands, not mothering them.

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 Touchy Feely Feelings Behind Food Allergies {Guest Post}

Motherhood definitely has it’s challenges. This blog is about being able to relate when you feel alone as well as moving past the yucky feelings of being “average.” As unifying as motherhood can be to women, certain aspects of it can be equally isolating. I’m grateful to my friend Amber for sharing a bit of her story as she tackles the challenging reality of severe allergies to just about everything for her kids. Even if this isn’t an issue for your family, I know you’ll be able to connect to her feelings with whatever challenge you face in your motherhood experience.

Photo Credit

I’ve spent the last several months absorbing anything I can about nutrition and food allergies. I think a good knowledge of nutrition is important, but for me it’s vital to getting my kids healthy. I’d suspected food allergy issues for years but it wasn’t until a frightening encounter with peanuts and a change in doctors that I got everything spelled out in black and white via blood allergy testing.

I’ve rambled on and on with friends and family about food ingredients and derivatives more than they probably care to hear about, but this might be because it keeps me from having to delve into the touchy-feely emotions surrounding our food.  People, addressing this side of our issue is not fun.

On the one hand I’m praising God that I’m only working with food allergies. On the other hand, I have to choke back tears when my kids watch the ice cream truck come up the street and see the neighbor kids running for it. Even simple trips to the grocery store are emotional. My almost-three-year old knows to be cautions with food and will pick up items asking, “What’s this have in it?” Only he’s asked me a million times now, so it comes out as one word, “Whatsthishaveinit?” I find notes on the kitchen counter from my seven year old that read, “Why do I always always always have to take a brake from derrey???” I’m the mean food police.

It would be nice if we were more like animals and just ate to live. But, we are not. We humans, and I think especially we Americans, have a strong emotional attachment to our food. I think it is even intensified another degree when you’re a stay-at-home mom. I know not all stay-at-home moms like to cook, but I’m one of those who did. Food was my thing, and I was pretty good at it. I have three-ring binders full of our favorite recipes. Right now I pretty much hate food. Yep, I said it. I hate food. Except sushi, which is weird because I never used to like it. If there were an allergy-friendly daily capsule I could give my kids that would fill their bellies and nourish them, I’d be first in line to buy a lifetime supply.

With a food allergy diagnosis, all of a sudden there is a lot of pressure on this parent to put the right foods on my kids’ plates. I’m the one who feeds them. I have been the one making them sick. I am the one who has to get them healthy. I have to process all the different theories and opinions on how to go about treating food allergies. I have to do the research to figure out what they can eat. Then I have to figure out what store sells it. Sometimes I’m on a wild goose chase for things I’ve never heard of before! It’s me who does the majority of the shopping and meal preparation. I’m the one who has to learn to cook from scratch all over again. And when I say “scratch,” I mean SCRATCH. Like make-your-own-breadcrumbs-and-powdered-sugar-scratch. Then I put it on the table and listen to my kids talk about how they don’t like it. And then I get mad. Not at them, of course. I’m mad that this wasn’t caught earlier, like WHEN I SAID THERE WAS SOMETHING WRONG (Pardon me for yelling in type, I sometimes do that when I’m frustrated). If they had been raised on alternative food then they wouldn’t know what they are missing.

My kids are going to be just fine. Lots of parents can’t say that and wish they were dealing with only a food allergy. My kids are going to be just fine, but it’s up to ME to figure it out and make the right choices for them. I think anyone who’s not been though a dietary change would be rolling their eyes right now. I’m sure they’d be like, “Seriously, what’s the big deal? It’s just food. Buy a different brand. Shut up and get over it.”

It’s not that easy though. When you’re dealing with this number of allergies and still have a lot of unknown variables, it is terribly hard. I wish I could sit here and type it out but I can’t because I don’t get it yet. There is still so much I don’t know, and I have a lot of genetic factors to consider. I don’t know why I can get my son well, but he doesn’t STAY WELL. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. We are still one week away from our appointment with the allergist. I hope to learn A LOT from the doctor, but I’ve been doing a lot of reading that suggests I still have a lot of work to do. Allergies are so different from one person to the next that I think I’ll just have to keep doing what I’m presently doing which is working myself in circles until my kids are well.

I am overwhelmed, but I take comfort in the verse that has been my mantra for the past year.

For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. Isaiah 41:13.

Maybe I’ll just get it tattooed on my forehead or something.

Amber is a mom to 2 wonderful children and is trying to figure out her new normal after both kids were recently diagnosed with severe food allergies. She now spends her spare time researching and concocting new ways to keep her kids healthy.

 

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.