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

The Best Things About Bringing up Daughters

The Very Best Thing About Bringing Up Daughters

The call for help came in the middle of the day.

This dear, young mom was clearly in a tough circumstance and needed some help. A small break at the very least. I recognized the desperate tone and told her I’d be over as soon as I could.

But what about all her children? Her four young ones, plus a little baby? Who could stay with them on such short notice while she and I went out to talk it through?

I approached one of our daughters and briefly explained the situation.  She caught on right away and began filling her backpack with fun toys, a princess crown, and party whistles. In a few short minutes she was packed and ready to go.

The children shyly gathered around her when we first arrived, having never been left with a stranger before. They began sharing their names and ages. Then their favorite colors and favorite foods. Then they began pointing over to the park . . . .

My friend and I quietly slipped out and enjoyed a lovely, long afternoon over a cup of tea. Tearful and healing. Returned smiling and hopeful.

It was nearly dark by the time we got back. We found my daughter playing a board game with her children while the baby slept sweetly in her arms.

I had one of those moments. You know, the kind. When you wonder how that could have happened. Wasn’t it just yesterday that this young woman before you was sleeping sweetly in your very own arms?

Some of the Very Best Things About Bringing Up Daughters

Extend your ministry. Together the two (or more) of you can do so much more than you could on your own. Our girls have helped with making meals, childcare, virtual assistance, event-planning, and so much more. It’s like a mini-women’s ministry coming right from your very own home.

Keep you young. Let’s face it, I’d probably be old and frumpy if it wasn’t for them. They keep me updated on what’s happening in the modern world. They keep me from embarrassing myself too badly with behind-the-times technology, clothing, and expressions. And they make me laugh!

Offer wonderful insights. Their fresh eyes and tender hearts often see things that we might have otherwise missed. I increasingly appreciate their sensitive insight and new perspective when faced with a problem or challenging situation.

Become a huge help. Our daughters can even downright spoil us. I’m blessed to have girls who prepare many of the meals each week. One daughter is my tech-assistant and another edits my writing. We all work on the laundry.  Basically, I’d be lost without them. :)

Grow into good friends. This, of course, is the very best part. Who do I go to when I have exciting news? My girls. If I’m sad or upset? My girls. If I’m looking for fun or someone to talk to? My girls.  A daughter can become one of your closest friends.

A mother’s relationship with her daughter is not always easy – I can readily attest to that. Not always simple or straightforward. But it’s a relationship well worth cultivating and cherishing.

Enjoy her, mama. The joys far outweigh the tears. Raising these girls is a beautiful gift from God.

*What are some of your favorite things about your daughter(s)? Challenges you’re facing, or questions? 

Lisa Jacobson, Club31Women

Join her for this NEW series: Raising Heavenly-Minded, Down-to-Earth Kids

How to Measure the Success of Motherhood

 How to Measure the Success of Motherhood

Being a mom day after day, week after week, month after month… is quite the demanding job. We have our moments of joy and tears, as well as strength and fears. We experience highs and lows of which we never dreamed before parenting. Last week I spoke with a group of moms and the conversation stimulated a round of thoughts about success and motherhood.

Have you ever really thought about how to measure the success of motherhood?

No one comes along offering a raise after a stellar meal with no complaints. We don’t receive a bonus for potty training unless we reward ourselves with a few M&M’s. Reaching the next plateau in folded laundry piles returned neatly to the drawers doesn’t deliver the fringe benefit of a company car.

How do we determine how to measure the success of motherhood?

Rewards are delivered in the form of precious smiles and soft snuggles. Payment for services is rendered through hugs and kisses. Bonuses arrive when you hear your child pray for the first time. Or watch her ask Jesus into her heart. Or view his baptism. You see, the success of motherhood cannot be measured by tangible, temporary goods.

Motherhood’s fortune can’t be tallied in dollars and cents nor can the mommy stock plummet overnight. The bond between child and mother can never be sold and the making of memories can never be traded. Compensation often arrives via giggles and laughter. The motto of motherhood life insurance was stolen from the penny- In God We Trust.

The success of motherhood can’t be doled out by paycheck or explained in percentages. The job is ever-changing and the job description is endless; yet the blessings continually outweigh the burdens. The corner office of motherhood looks like a nursery. Or maybe a playroom. Or the dining room. All the most important work happens in that corner office – conversations about life, love and dreams. Investments of higher value than pure gold are transacted while rocking chairs gracefully sway.

So the next time you think about your motherhood paycheck or wonder when you’ll ever make it up the mommy ladder of success, remember that instant gratification is fragile. While you may catch an occasional glimpse of how rich you are on this earth, the full value of motherhood can only be calculated by the almighty God.

Keep investing, Sweet Mama. Our rewards are in Heaven.

Rachel- RachelWojo.com

Check out 16 Bible Verses for when you feel exhausted for an extra boost of energy!

Dear Mothers: Why We Shouldn’t Judge Each Other

Dear Mothers: Why We Shouldn't Judge Each Other

Dear Mothers,

She looked like a thousand years, this single mother in the airport, pulling her luggage and carrying two small children. Looking the way I’ve felt so many times–like she was at the end of a very thin rope.

I walked over to her with my carry-on, said, “Excuse me–this may sound strange but, I’m a mom of two as well. And I just want you to know that you’re doing a great job.”

She looked up at me, and her bottom lip trembled. “Thank you,” she said.

And friends? You are. You are doing a great job. Because this motherhood gig? It’s not easy. In fact, it’s the hardest thing in the world.

No matter how old your babies, your womb aches like it’s begging to carry someone, and your children–whether they’re three or thirty three–they still belong there, within you.

And you wonder if there isn’t an umbilical cord somewhere that hasn’t been cut?

I can still smell Aiden. His toothpaste breath, as we lay in his bunk bed three nights before I had to leave, and we talked about his favorite things. And he decided his favorite big animal was a horse, and his favorite small animal was a cat, and beneath us, two-year-old Kasher saying “I cat” and “I horse”.

I lay with my youngest next, my cheek tucked to his, his tiny fingers playing with my hair.

I can still smell them even though I’m thousands of feet above them, in a plane on my way to Africa. And my womb aches something fierce.

And this, sisters, why we shouldn’t judge each other :

Because we mothers who’ve given birth, we’re all the same.

We’ve all got that excavated place where life once grew round and full, and it pulls us so close to the ground some days we’re forced to pray.

And I know there is a mama in Africa right now tucking her son into bed asking him what his favorite animal is, and he’s saying things like lions, or tigers, or elephants, and this mama, she’s leaning close with her brilliant smile and kissing him on the forehead and begging God the rebels don’t steal him away tonight.

Because in Uganda, that’s what they do–these rebel armies they come when it’s dark and they take the children, as young as five, and they train them to kill.

I glance out the window of the plane. Getting closer to heaven changes our perspective of earth. The land, portioned out and divided by trees and homes, and roads, and sure–soon I’ll be seeing some red dirt and different species of trees and animals and different shades of skin but from up here? It all looks the same.

I don’t want to forget that. When I’m doing art on the floor of the orphanage tomorrow with children whose parents have been lost to AIDS, or whose families just can’t afford to take care of them anymore; when I’m meeting my sponsor child Mark John and giving him a Jesus Storybook Bible and a baseball from my husband and a colored picture from my boys, I want to remember: we all belong to one another. We’re family — and family takes care of each other.

All of us mothers and children, we’re not so different from one another–with our hearts beating and our arms stretching the world around.

So won’t you join me, friends, as I land in Kampala and find my way to the children of Africa? Won’t you help us build a rescue home for abandoned babies? Listen as we share stories of boys and girls who used to fight rebel armies, who now are getting an education and singing in a world-renowned choir? Go with us to Rwanda to meet widowed women who’ve lost up to nine children each in the genocide, who now take care of motherless orphans?

The plane is quiet except for a child chattering, and somewhere, the faint cry of a baby, the soothing sounds of a mother. And here we are.

Family.

Together, always.

Your sister,

Emily.

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