When Motherhood Becomes Hard…

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When Motherhood Becomes Hard

No matter how much we love our children, motherhood at times is just plain hard. From the sleepless nights when our precious babies are new to the world, to the tough issues that we tackle with our young adults, being a mom is no easy feat. What can we do during those hard times in order to stay positive and maintain a healthy relationship with our children?

Although I believe that each individual situation is unique, I do believe that there are always some surefire ways that will work across the board to lift your spirits on those hard days no matter what your situation is. I want to share with you what I do to get through the rough patches that motherhood brings along every now and then.

Pray.

It is imperative that we pray for ourselves and our children during times when their is a strain within the relationship. I cannot count the times that prayer has pulled me out of a hard time into a time of peace and restoration. And while it is an easy thing to say, it isn’t always easily done, right? I pray often, but in times when motherhood is presenting challenges, I have to fight the temptation to give in to my emotions, and make sure I pray first before anything else. If you are stuck and not sure what to pray, there are so many wonderful books on prayer to help you out.

Have an accountability partner.

This alone has saved my relationship with my children more times than they’ll ever know. When my husband is home and not away on deployment or training, he is my first accountability partner. He always helps build me up when I am feeling like a horrible failure of a mother. I also have a few close girlfriends that help keep me in line when ever I am tempted to throw in the towel due to a hard motherhood day. Without these valuable sounding boards in my life, I don’t know if I could have successfully made it this far in my motherhood journey.

Forgive yourself.

This was something that I used to struggle with when I was a new mom over 13+ years ago. I would beat myself up over every mistake I made and feel guilty for days on end. However, God taught me that the free gift of salvation would be in vain if I was not receiving and practicing His forgiveness. Not only towards others, but also forgiving myself. I am so glad that I made the choice to obey and forgive myself for the mistakes that I make (and will make in the future) on my beautiful motherhood journey.

Laugh and cry.

Yes, both. Both laughing and crying are good for your motherhood journey. When times get rough, releasing your emotions is crucial. Be sure to cry if you need to cry, and laugh when you need to laugh. Never hold back on either if you are having a hard motherhood day and you will feel better, I promise!

Even though motherhood can be hard, there are many ways to keep our perspective in the right place. For me this occurs through prayer, accountability, forgiveness, laughing, and crying. I pray that you will find what helps you in the midst of those rough days and bounce right back and see motherhood for what it is — beautiful!

Much love to you dear friend,

Carlie @ Learning To Speak Life

Kids and Technology (Finding the Balance)

Kids and Technology

Can I play Minecraft on the ipad?

Lydia wants to know if she can do Starfall on your computer?
Can we play Wii for 15 min.?
Can I text Anna back because she asked a question?
After dinner can we watch a show tonight?
David asked if I can follow him on Instagram?

My nightmare.
Well, one of them anyway.

There are times when I’d love to just get rid of it all.
There’s a reason I returned the iphone my husband bought me a couple of years ago.
I have a definite love-hate-relationship with technology and all things screen-ish.
And yes, I get the irony of sharing this in a post as I type away staring at a screen.
My tendency would be to bury my head in the sand and just wish it’d all go away.

But—there has to be a balance—right?
And that’s part of our job—
To help our children find the balance and to help them learn how to keep it,
To help them learn to use technology and all things media for the glory of God.

First We Must Look at Avoiding the Dangers and Negative Impacts of Technology:

1) Overuse:
There’s a definite tendency for overuse. And that’s a real possibility for all of us. Screen attachment can become a borderline addiction (or real for some) and we must set limits when it comes to using technology and screen time.  The balance will be different for every family and should be age appropriate.

Exceptions are made as needed, but in general, as a family, we have some guidelines that have eliminated the need for constant decision making about usage.  When it comes to television, we watch a weekly show together on Thursday nights and then after evening chores are complete, our crew is allowed to watch something for half an hour while we are waiting for dad to get home (for us that is 6 to 6:30). Unless it’s a special occasion– online games or Wii games are reserved for the weekends and this has eliminated the requests for permission that were driving me bonkers.  For now, we also have decided that devices will not travel with the kids to most social functions (church, Bible study, friends’ houses etc.).

I’m not at all suggesting this is what every family should do, but the point is to have an actual usage plan.

2) Safety:
Dangers lurk on every corner when it comes to technology and this is an important discussion to have with our children.  As parents we need to explain why it’s important to never share personal information or open emails/photos from strangers and why downloads need to have approval.

There is wisdom in keeping computers and devices centrally located and for putting safeguards in place to protect our children.  Pornography is just one unintentional click away.  We must make safety a priority.
This recent article has excellent suggestions specific to creating a porn-free family plan.

In our home, our kids’ profiles must be kept private and they are not allowed to accept friend requests from people they don’t know.  And until they are a bit older and wiser, we’ve asked them not to search and click on unknown sites without our permission.  A central family docking station, ensures that all devices are accounted for.  Open communication is huge when it comes to safety…our children need to feel comfortable coming to us if something negative happens online whether intentional or unintentional.

3) Costly Words:
Words have the ability to cause great damage and it’s so easy to quickly make a comment online without realizing the hurtful impact.  It is important to explain that a text, email, comment, or post is often irretrievable and that “when there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19).  As a family, studying James is a great place to start when discussing how death and life are in the power of the tongue.

4) Missed Opportunities:
The choice to engage in screen time is also a choice to not do something else. Technology often replaces good conversation and face to face relationship building. It can isolate family members from one another and it can lead to a loss of other interests.  When we start noticing that our children are choosing screen time regularly over other activities, that’s usually when we implement a technology Sabbath.

5) Lack of Courtesy:
It’s also important to stress courtesy when it comes to all things screen.  And sometimes it’s as simple as the basics– when you are in the company of someone else, it’s unkind to be glued to your phone.  If there’s any opportunity for conversation, it’s rude to not make eye contact and engage.  These are words we must preach to ourselves as well.

docking station

Then We Must Encourage the Positive Aspects of Technology:

1) Building relationships and friendships:
Technology creates a wonderful opportunity for building connections and encouraging others.  If we can help our children view it in this light, technology can be a blessing in their lives and in the lives of others.  We want to help them consider:  Who can I encourage with my comments?  What friendships can I strengthen by online connections?  What family members or friends can I reach out to?

2) Developing Skills/Creativity:
Creativity is limitless when it comes to technology and it’s important to encourage our children to develop skills in this area.  Many excellent typing, programming, and coding programs are available.  Our boys enjoy stop motion and creating videos.  All of our children enjoy photography.  These are skills and interests that God can use in their lives and we want to encourage their curiosity and delight in these areas.

3) Sharing the Gospel:
Technology offers incredible opportunities for sharing about Jesus’ rescue mission to save us, bring us forgivingness and how He made a way for us to live in deep, real relationship with God.  We want our children to approach technology with a heart to “(make) the most of every opportunity” (Eph. 5:16).

4) Keeping us in the tension:
It might be easier to just do away with it all, but instead we have to listen for God’s whisper that we may be out-of-balance or over-balanced or missing– Balance.

It might be simpler if God just gave us Commandment #11– Do not use Facebook.
But instead, He gives us a relationship where we must come to Him regularly, willing to lay it all, all the techno-everything-options, at His disposalTechnology and all things “screen” create this opportunity for our children as well.

I am sure there are many other positives and negatives that I haven’t considered…
And I’d love to hear your thoughts or suggestions below in the comments.

For now though, I’ll just admit that I did eventually get a smartphone.
Smile.
And truthfully, I use it, enjoy it, and find it very helpful.
But it’s a constant battle to keep the balance.

And it’s in that place of tension that I want our children to stay…
Where they are constantly asking–

How can I use this _________ (insert your device of choice) to bring glory to God?

Our God is a God who redeems.

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” ~Psalm 24:1

With Love,
Kara @ The Chuppies

This post is part of our series Finding Balance as a Busy Mom. 

Please check the series page for all of the posts! 

Finding Balance as a Busy Mom

The Beauty of Community

church is peopleA single mom rested her head against the door jam, not knowing what her next step should be. The fridge was empty; the cabinets were bare. The last bite of bread was almost gone and her and her little boy would soon be hungry. She breathed a quick prayer and headed out to church, not knowing how they would survive through the week.

Church is not a place; church is people.

The tiny community church she attended contained a handful of faithful women and from the moment this single mama stepped foot inside the door of the church, she knew that she was loved and accepted. While the loving atmosphere of the church gave her a sense of community, she did not feel capable of admitting her shortcomings to the group. She had learned to pray in this very space and now her faith in the Lord to provide would have to be enough.

Where two or three are gathered…

One of the women in this church was gifted with an uncanny sense of knowing when others were in need. Perhaps it was her own upbringing of living with next to nothing or maybe it was her spiritual calling, either way, her spirit sensed that the single mama’s heart was burdened. This same sensitivity also provided her with the knowledge that the single mama just might be embarrassed to be approached about her needs; she didn’t seem ready to fully open her hurting heart. So the wise woman smiled and gave her a shoulder hug, wishing her a wonderful week.

Loving others sometimes requires giving them time to heal.

But the next day, the faithful leader headed to the grocery store. With 9 children of her own, the woman knew how to make money stretch to feed a family. So after her weekly shopping was completed, she took a portion of her grocery budget and bought groceries for the little family of two- the single mama and her sweet boy. Then after unloading her own family’s groceries, she headed towards the tiny apartment of the single mom where she piled everything on the porch, rang the doorbell, and left as quickly as she could.

The Lord rewards the secret work.

Decades later, the wise mentor became ill. The single mom had an opportunity to chat with her one day. She learned that the dear lady had one fear:  “Who will pray for my children if something happens to me?” And the single mama vowed that day that she would be the one to pray for the 9 children. By name.  Every day.  The wise woman went to be with Jesus not too many years later and the single mama moved to another state.

Each time I reflect on this story, I’m overcome with the beauty-the beauty of community in a tapestry of lives God so graciously weaves. The beauty He creates when two women choose to take everyday moments and act in His love.

Thank you, Bonnie, for praying for me- one of those 9 children- every day.

Rachel

Check out this simple jelly bean Easter poem to share the love of Jesus with your community.

When Silence is Not Golden

Silence

I remember the first time I heard Mary’s story.
I had a knot in my stomach and angry, hot tears streamed down my face.
I couldn’t believe that someone could hurt a child like that.
And that others knew but did nothing to protect her.

I’d rather not talk about it–
sexual abuse.

I’d rather not know that according to CDC statistics:
–Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men report experiencing rape.
–A 2011 survey of high school students found that 11.8% of girls and 4.5% of boys reported being sexual abused.

Or that according to the National Center for Victims of Crimes:
–1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse.
–Children are most vulnerable to sexual abuse between the ages of 7 and 13.

Sexual abuse is not something I have experienced first hand, but statistically many of you reading this have.
Many.
And many of you who have shared your story (or not) have been met with silence.
And silence has a way of speaking volumes.

As a former English teacher, I love words.
Words create and convey and communicate meaning beyond their literality.

For instance, when someone asks me where “Lydia’s real mom lives?”
The question has adoption-parent-child-relationship-implications, that communicate much more than just a simple question of location.
I am her real mom.

An empty, silent crib shouts painful echoes of heartache.
A frozen “I’m sorry” has the potential to thaw the marriage battle. Or not.

Word choice is important. But so are pauses. So is silence.

Because silence is not always golden.

“If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would’ve lived in the land of silence.” ~Psalm 94:17

And so we tell our children, over and over…
If you hear someone being hurtful to someone else, it is your responsibility to stick up for the wounded, to encourage, to come along side–

Because silence has the power to unintentionally condone cruelty.

“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know…” ~William Wilberforce

I just recently finished reading Mary Demuth’s new book, Not Marked.
I read it because I care about Mary, because I want to understand as best I can how to support the friends I have who were sexually abused, and also because I want to prevent our children from experiencing that same kind of pain.

As a mama, I so appreciated Mary’s wisdom about ways to protect our children from sexual abuse because as she states, “every crime needs these two elements.  A perpetrator has to want to abuse, and there needs to be a victim in proximity” (Not Marked  pg. 223).

She goes on to share several suggestions that may help parents protect their children, “while still letting them be children” (pg. 226).

#1) Know Your Child–

“The best defense in protecting your kids is knowing them well.  Know their nuances; become a student of their behavior…If your child has a sudden shift in behavior, take it seriously” (pgs. 226-227).
Mary goes on to list many common symptoms of sexual abuse that a parent should take note of.

#2) Be Vigilant But Not Immobilized–

“Be cautious about adults seeking alone time with your child.  Watch your children and who they hang out with…Remember that abusers seldom look like criminals…(but) don’t become so immobilized that you never let your kids be kids.  You don’t want to raise fear-based kids (pgs. 227-228).

#3) Teach Your Kids About Sex–

” …you’ll need to talk about sex with your kids at an early age– in an age appropriate manner…The more comfortable you are talking about it, the more comfortable your kids will be in bringing you any concerns” (pgs. 228-229).

#4) Entrust Your Kids To Jesus–

“Although I have warned (my kids) about stranger danger and how to flee, and we’ve talked about inappropriate touch, I have also learned to entrust my kids to Jesus…We can lean toward controlling our kids, micromanaging their worlds.  While we should protect our kids, we’re also role models, demonstrating a life lived in adventure, not fear” (pgs. 229-230).

#5) Our Greatest Gift–

“The greatest gift we can give our kids is our relationship with Jesus, modeling to them what we do when we’re injured or hurt.  Our own willingness to run to Him with our pain will show our kids how to work through their own difficulties as they grow up.  Contagious family life is not about appearing perfect,…It’s about a bunch of messy people living together, broken, but running to Jesus to find help” (pg. 231).

As we read these words and consider this heartache…

Some of us are processing as parents wanting to protect children.
Or friends wanting to come alongside those we care about.
Or spouses who daily watch a loved one struggle through the aftermath of sexual abuse.
But many reading right now, have experienced these wounds personally.

If you are reading this today, a victim of sexual abuse, my heart breaks over your pain and heartache.
I am so sorry.

I’d like to share with you Mary’s Prayer for a Sexual Abuse Victim.
And if we can pray for you today, we’d like to do that.

We’d also like to share 3 copies of Not Marked with our readers.
We are praying this book can be a source of encouragement and hope.
In it, Mary doesn’t gloss over the pain and struggle, she doesn’t minimize the heartache, but she offers real suggestions (not platitudes) for healing and progress and she proclaims the freedom of living– not marked, but with true hope.

“For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” ~Eph. 2:10 NLT

With Love,
Kara @ The Chuppies

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