How to Write Books with Babies In Your Lap (Giveaway)

via Worth James Goddard on flickr

You don’t.

You don’t write books with babies in your lap, you don’t even check your email because four boys are honking your nose and pulling at your hair and coffee spills all over the overdue bills on your desk and you wonder again, why you said Yes.

Why you said you’d take in your friend’s two children when she called saying she couldn’t do it anymore, she couldn’t be a mom anymore. And rather than see that one-year-old and three-year-old go into the foster system you said you’d take them in, in addition to your six-month-old and his two-year-old brother.

Because some things are more important than sleep. Or a hot cup of coffee. Or that novel you’ve just been contracted to write because of course, you finally got a contract right after you took the boys in. Because God cares more about the least of these and he’ll reward you for it, too.

But it doesn’t feel like a reward. Especially when one of the boys forgets to lock the gate behind him and your six month old tumbles down the stairs in his walker and you grab him, weeping, you run with him to the office and close the door and hold your baby close to you and sob to God, I can’t do this.

Rock your baby and sobbing, and then somehow, God reminds you that you can. And you rise, open the door, turn on some music for the boys in the living room and they run dancing around the coffee table.

The story only gets written because you hire a nanny–a Dutch girl from your hamlet who makes homemade pasta noodles and laughs with all of her upper body and brings crafts to do with the boys. She brings her keyboard and songs fill the insides of your walls and she makes you mugs of tea and you call her Angel.

But even as the characters begin to form on the screen in your Word document, even as the plot thickens and you try to avoid those excessive adverbs and cliche descriptions, you hear the boys laughing outside the office door.

And you miss them. Your house is full of children but they’re no longer climbing all over you, they’re climbing all over somebody else, and you wonder if they aren’t the greatest story your life is writing?

These four boys whose noses and legs never stop running, who never get enough stories at bedtime, who always want more songs and more snuggles and more glasses of milk and more of you.

boys in the corn

All you’ve ever wanted is to be a published author and now you have the chance and you can’t help thinking, this isn’t what life is about.

It’s incredible to be able to make up stories but it’s even more incredible to live them. To hear the words tumbling from your child’s mouth as he talks about his favorite blue flashlight as you lie beside him in his bunk-bed. “Some flashlights are small, and some are big, and some are tiny and some are huge,” he says as he slips his hand into yours there in the dark.

Catherine Wallace writes, “Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.”

Yes, I write books, but I don’t make a living from them. I make a living from being a mother and a wife, from nurturing life and love through the main characters of my story: the Dutch-German man I fell in love with back in Bible School, the one who converts his car to run off vegetable oil, who cans his own salsa and snowboards mountains. Who hikes up his pajama pants and dances for me in the middle of the living room, who throws his boys on the bed and eats their tummies, who downloads Parenthood for me and goes geocaching with me and kisses me like he means it.

And the two Filipino boys who now only visit us once a month because they’re back with their mama, and she thanks me every week for saving her life last year, and my biological sons–the ones I wasn’t supposed to be able to have–who make me feel famous every time I enter a room. Who squish my cheeks together in their dimpled hands and say, “I lah you Mama.”

This, friends–this is the story worth telling. The one we’re in.

novel ad

I am honored to be giving away my debut novel, A Promise in Pieces--which releases this month–today to you friends… it’s about a woman like me, named Clara, who loves passionately while struggling to believe she is loved.

From the back cover: “It’s been more than 50 years since Clara cared for injured WWII soldiers in the Women’s Army Corp. Fifty years since she promised to deliver a dying soldier’s last wish. And 50 years since that soldier’s young widow gave her the baby quilt—a grief-ridden gift that would provide hope to countless newborns in the years to come. On her way to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Clara decides it’s time to share her story. But when the trip doesn’t go as planned, Clara wonders if anyone will learn the great significance of the quilt—and the promise stitched inside it.”

If you want to win one of two copies, just leave a comment below and we’ll choose two winners within the week. Otherwise, you can download a free chapter and purchase the novel HERE.

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

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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My son, be attentive to my words…(and a free printable)

I’m kind of crazy about praying straight from the Word of God.

Most of the time, when you visit my home, you’ll find any number of sticky notes, printables, or framed prayers, in nearly every room of the house.

There’s one small, yellow, sticky note that’s been on my husband’s closet door for close to six years now. There’s another sticky note on my bathroom mirror, a framed piece that’s my prayer verse for 2014 hanging right outside my boys’ room, and my prayer calendar for my boys hanging beside my desk in the homeschool room.

I’ve taken the directive from Deuteronomy 6:9 seriously, and I wouldn’t have it any other way…Working toward a culture of prayer in my home—to raise boys who don’t know anything other than asking God for everything they need (<<—Tweet that!)

I'm working toward a culture of prayer in my home—to raise boys who don't know anything other than asking God for everything they need.

It’s taken some time, but my sons are starting to get it. For example, just the other day, I dropped a cutting board on my toe. A heavy one. Pointy side down. On my toe.

I spent two hours just trying not to be physically sick from the pain. It was all I could do to get lunch on the table and sit down…head between my hands, glasses thrown on the table, toe throbbing so hard I didn’t know if I’d be able to eat.

He started to sing the Johnny Appleseed song.

We do sometimes, when we want to be silly, or sing instead of speak our prayers. He loves to make up alternate endings to it (“the sun, and the rain, and the appleseed, the Lord’s been good to me…and my pinto beans…”). But instead of finishing the whole song, he sang the first few words (O, the Lord’s been good to me…”), stopped, got all serious, and totally changed the direction of his prayer…

“Jesus, please help mama not to be sick. Heal her toe. Amen.”

And even though I could barely speak from the pain, my heart melted right there at the table, because my little boy’s heart was soft enough to know that mama needed Jesus to help her. Maybe it’s because he hears me crying out to Jesus nearly every day. Maybe it’s because he sees so many of my prayers hanging around the house. Or maybe it’s because God’s working in his heart.

But I know this…

It means he’s listening. Seeing. Taking it to heart.

Would you take the challenge to create a culture of prayer in your home? If so, pray with me:

Lord, thank you in advance for changing me and growing me in my faith so I can create a culture of prayer in our home. Teach me how, and make these seeds of faith grow long and strong in my family’s heart. Help me lead the charge. In Jesus Name. 

Take some practical steps toward your new goal…

1. Set your watch, or the alarm on your phone to begin a habit of praying on the hours. This will go a long way toward helping you remember that you have access to God in the moments of your day.

2. To get yourself even more in the habit of prayer, take the Praying for Boys 5-day prayer challenge.

3. Print out the free graphic below, and hang it in your boys’ room, or in a place where you frequently pray. Make it a habit to pray the verses from Proverbs 4:20-27 every day.

A free download of Proverbs 4:20-27. Perfect for the mom of boys.

 Brooke McGlothlin is co-founder of the MOB Society, where mothers of boys find delight in the chaos of raising boys. Be sure to check out Brooke’s new book, Praying for Boys: Asking God for the Things They Need Most.

Learning To Let Go (A Letter From Mother To Daughter)

httpwww.thebettermom.comwp-contentuploads201402Learning-To-Let-Go-A-Letter-From-Mother-To-Daughter

Learning to let go.

Something that we hear often and practice regularly when trying to live a life bent to Jesus. But it’s hard. Not just sometimes, but all the time. And of all the times I have learned to let go and all the times I will in the future, it’s in the present day that my momma heart is being broken in two.

Why? Because right now I am learning to let go of some difficult things our oldest child, my beautiful Hannah, has been experiencing in life. Those hard life lessons that happen to those (like Hannah) who are a breath of fresh air in this fallen world.

I am sharing a candid letter I wrote to my baby girl just last week with all of you. Friends, I pray that this letter will encourage someone who is going through this exact thing, right now. While it is so hard to see our babies hurting, we have to learn to let go.

Dear Hannah,

Words cannot properly express the love I felt for you the moment I realized your life was forming in my womb. I will never forget the time we spent together as God was molding your life right inside of mine. I will never forget the moment that I realized how His love was being multiplied in the physical presence of your tiny growing body – a creation of love between Father and child – husband and wife – mother and daughter. It was during this time of extreme joy and life creating inside of me that God gently reminded me that you were His, and I needed to learn to let go.

But how? How could I begin to let go of something that I loved so very much? Something that I couldn’t even see yet? How could I let go of the one thing that symbolized the ultimate union of God and man, husband and wife? How?

I’ll never forget when God gave me this scripture as I was praying to Him through my tears, trying desperately to understand what exactly He was asking me to do:

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37 KJV)

It was in these words that I meditated on day and night He told me just what letting go really is. Letting go is trusting that God will always love you more than I do. Letting go is allowing Him to teach me how to parent you as unto Him. Letting go is trusting that in His sovereign creation of you that He ultimately knows what you need and how to provide it for you. Letting go is realizing that I didn’t know how to give nor receive love until He loved me first. Letting go is allowing God to be first in my life so that His love may flow through me – not only to you – but to everyone He desires to put in my path. Letting go is the ultimate obedience I can display in a life bent towards Him, recognizing Him as the Supreme authority in my life, showing you who He is, ultimately leading you to Him.

And while these words are easy to write, they are not as easy to do. I try my best to live a life bent to Christ, but I fail. But in His goodness and mercy, He forgives me. Not because I am good, but because He is good, and because I let go. I let it all go to follow Him. This, my dear Hannah is what it’s all about. No matter how much it hurts my momma heart as He is asking me to release you with even more depth into His trusting hand – I have learned to let go. That which I let go, my faithful Father will sustain in His mighty hand, giving me a peace that cannot be earned nor purchased. But only the simple (but oh so hard) act of letting go can produce this peace I have in my heart as I watch you grow and blossom into the beautiful light that you are.

And while you’ve been deeply hurt by the lies of the enemy and cut by those who are unaware of your Father’s truth, I am learning to let go. I let go of the anger and judgement and ugly words that try to fill my heart and mind. I let go of the lie that no one loves you as much as I do – because there is One who loves you even more. I will always be your advocate, my dear Hannah, but more importantly I will do my very best each day to let you go and release you into His hand that ultimately leads to His plan for your life. Because I love you. I love you so much that I am willing to give you to Him, over and over again. Let Him be your comfort during these hard times. Yes, I am here for you and will hold you and pray for you and love you. But the very best thing I can do for you? Is let go.

Loving you through His sustaining grace,
Your Very Grateful  Mom

I am praying for you right now, dear momma, the one who has a heavy heart as she learns in every season of life to let go. I know that it isn’t easy, and I want you to know that I care about you and am praying for you. My heart is aligned with yours and we’re in this together. Let’s continue to give it all to Jesus, the center of our hope and anchor of our salvation!

Carlie @ Learning to Speak Life™

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