Do you feel you've lost yourself to motherhood?

forusmomswholongtocreategracelaced-com When I wrote LIFE CREATIVE: INSPIRATION FOR TODAY'S RENAISSANCE MOM, with my dear friend Kelli Stuart, we set out to encourage creative women who feel they've lost themselves in this busy season of motherhood - painters and poets, writers and sculptures, actors, home decorators, seamstress' and business owners, graphic designers, singers and bakers...

Sweet friends, I know how deeply discouraging it can be to find yourself in the dark ages of motherhood - having lost touch with all the things you used to enjoy doing - all the things you used to enjoy about yourself!

 

(photo credit: Ruth Simons)

 

When moms lose themselves to motherhood, they tend to lose their tempers too.

Like they have to fight to be heard. 

But I hear you.

When the dream come true of motherhood intersects all the other dreams in a woman's life, it's common to feel lost for a season. But you're not lost - and neither are your gifts.

God did a wonderful job when He created you in his delightfully creative image... and then gave you children. Though there is much sacrifice in this season, He is still the God who made you cleaver and creative, and cast those dreams into your heart.

Think of each talent as a seed lying dormant beneath the earth. When springtime comes again, and it will come, and the sun warms the soil of your life, tender shoots will appear once more.

A reawakening - A rebirth - A renaissance.

 

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Until that time, it is our hope that you discover ways to fit pieces of your creative life into the everyday, ordinary moments of motherhood. The birthday parties you throw, the forts you make, the nursery you decorate, the bedtime stories you tell, the lullabies you sing, the camera you carry in the diaper bag, the family suppers that you prepare, the cakes you bake, the preserves you can… all of these are opportunities for you to create and express love one mothering moment at a time!

As you express your love in creative ways, you are expressing yourself creatively!

Embrace that, embrace them, embrace yourself, sweet mom.

As I said before, there is much sacrificial love in this season, but that doesn't mean you have to lose yourself entirely.

In Life Creative we tell the stories of 20 women who are using their gifts in various ways in their homes, their cue-de-sac communities, their local church, and even online in this digital age - confined yet unhindered.

Ask For Help

One piece of advice that I feel is most helpful, advice I return to each time I begin to lose myself again, is this:

Share your feelings and ask for help. Whether you seek your husband's help, your mother's help, or that of a friend, reach out and simply say, "Remember how I used to love doing this unique thing? Remember how I used to serve in the church with this gift of mine? Remember how I dreamed of doing this or that before kids?... Would you help me figure out ways to fit a little bit of that inspired dreaming back into my life again?"

We call these people our Lifeguards. Friends and family who stand watch on the shoreline of our lives as we dip our toes into creative waters once more. They cheer us on, but they also stand guard and call us back to shore if the tide threatens to pull us a bit to far from home.

As I mentioned, it's each to lose our temper when we feel we've lost ourself. But your husband didn't marry you to take yourself away. He married you be cause he loves you. He's on your team, whether you feel like it or not. Find a moment when you aren't exasperated and feeling like a victim. Plan a date and come to him with love, then ask him for his help.

Renaissance Mom

Ladies, you are so good at helping your little ones discover their creative design. You sign them up for classes and let them experiment with their fearfully and wonderfully made life. While you can't run off to do the same with the same carefree exuberance, you can continue to pursue your life in Christ in creative ways with the help of loved ones.

Today, make a plan, reach out, ask for help.

How did God make you and what did He make you for? For motherhood? Yes! But what else? What other seeds are lying dormant, eager for the Son to shine His Light upon in the days and years to come.

For a Renaissance, a reawakening, is coming.

 

For more encouragement, grab a copy of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today's Renaissance Mom

 

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When your teenager makes you angry

Alright my dear friends, I have stepped over the edge of raising little people, into the unchartered waters of teens. Let me start by acknowledging that teenagers can bring a brand new set of triggers. Shoot! TEENAGERS CAN BE TRIGGERS! Strength cased in flesh, pushing for independence, sure they know more than we do and fast to tell us so... Of course, they are also WONDERFUL: interesting, thoughtful, and surprisingly unique. But what's a mom and dad to do...

 

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Here's our story:

It really began in those pre-teen years for us, when emotions flared (whether sad or angry or overwhelmed) and he turned suddenly to his room and tears flowed. I was thankful then that I had read books and blogs beforehand to prepare me for this sudden shift. Simply knowing it was coming helped prepare me for some of the changes. Not that I had all the answers, but I knew that my battle wasn't with my emotionally explosive / fragile boy; this battle was to be fought at his side, teenager and parent.

He needs me on his team, sometimes even holding his hand, as we walk through this transition into manhood together.

As for the most practical advice I can give: When his moods swing and his demands are unrealistic, I remember what it's like to have hormones shifting and shooting through my own body on a monthly bases. Sometimes I feel (and even act) like a crazy woman! Taking a look at my own hormonal tendencies helps me to parent form a place of grace. Of course, this is what the Christian life is like in all our relationships, inside and outside of our family. We've been forgiven much, and so we are quick to forgive. God has been long-suffering with us, and so we must suffer-long with others. God has been just and required righteousness from us, training us through His Word, and now we have the privilege to walk alongside our children as they grow up, pointing them to righteous choices and behavior... even when they are overcome by moodiness and anger.

Grace, long-suffering, and on-going discipleship will look different for each one of us - and different for mothers and fathers and daughter and sons. Ask the Lord to give you insight into what this will look like in your brand of family. For us, my husband has started getting away one-on-one with our boys for "man time." I have friends with girls where the father's have taken to "dating his daughters."

As a mom of boys I bring the Word with me to the breakfast table, over pancakes on Saturday mornings. We still read good literature aloud around the dinner table too. And I still flop down on the bed at night with my oldest, and make myself available to hear his heart.

There are plenty of nights I tickle my man-child's broad back or rub his gangly, hairy legs, and explain to him that just as his body is changing, so are his hormones. "Your voice is getting lower.. your smell is getting stinker.... your emotions are shifting from little boy emotions to man emotions."

Sometimes he wants to talk, other times he just needs me near - not judging or lecturing or nagging about the emotional melt-down he'd just had.

Now that we've made the leap into teenager-dom, these hormonal shifts have come more regularly. And sometimes I forget what is happening in his body and respond in a primal, quick-tempered, knee-jerk sort of way to the behavior that is annoying and obnoxious! But the truths about gentleness we learned when they were young still apply today... perhaps now more than ever!

Ladies, whether your kid is 8, and working through angst going to school; or 3 and figuring out his place in this family with a new baby stealing the show; or 14 and transitioning into high school, finding his own two feet to stand on amidst peer pressure and a heavy school load... whatever they are going through and however they are acting out, our kids need us to slow down and remember that their behavior is just the branches of a great big tree, waving in the tempest storms of present circumstances. Of course we see the leaves falling and the branches whipping in the wind... but God is calling us as parents to look deeper - perceive what is happening down in the root system of our children's lives.

And if you still can't get a grapple on your short tempered emotions, you must take a look at the roots going down into the soil of your own life. Are we planted steadfastly by streams of living water, drinking deeply from God's transforming Word? Or are we on social media complaining with our girlfriends about our teenager's (or whatever age) behavior? Where are we drinking from? Where are we turning to for wisdom? Where are we going for discernment each mothering day, each mothering stage?

I feel so honored that many of you come to this place for encouragement and wisdom. I pray that I use every opportunity to turn your attention to the One who gives all wisdom when we ask; provides all strength when we are weak; and gave us His Holy Spirit to counsel and guide us through each life season (ours and our children's.)

Ladies, today, take your questions and your burdens to God; ask Him for insight in whatever it is you need right now.

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2, NASB)

 

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For more encouragement each triggered mothering day, sign up to receive email updates. And if you would like to delve deeper into God's transforming love, trusting Him to help you through your angry-mom tendencies, I suggest you grab a copy of Triggers: Exchanging Parents' Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses. By the sheer grace of God, hearts and homes are being transformed through the pages of this book (beginning with mine.)

 

Additional Resources

For those of you who would like to understand what is happening in your teen's developing brain, Your Teenager is Not Crazy, by Jerusha and Jeremy Clark, is a wonderful, educational read!

Parenting Teens with Love and Logic, by Foster Cline and Jim Fay, is an exceptional resource when trying to understand and apply real life, natural consiquences that will help teenagers prepare for adulthood.

 

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When Mom Needs a Good Cry... CRY OUT!

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I drove clear across town multiple times yesterday, back and forth between homeschooling one and shuttling two. Wednesday's are long. At day's end we made it home and I made dinner, then we made our way out into the dark night for youth groups at church. Hours later, when the kids were finally tucked in bed, I turned my attention to the kitchen sink, piled high with dinner dishes, and I felt an old familiar pang. I felt like a victim again.  

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It's been a while since I added to our ongoing "You are not a victim, you're a mom" series. If the term resonates with you on a gut level, you may want to start here at the beginning of our journey out of the pit of a victim mentality and on to the high places of sweet surrender in this sacrificial role of motherhood.

Ladies, God did a good job when he made you mom to your specific kids and placed you in your specific set of circumstances. Though the dishes and the laundry and the bills all pile up... your family needs you to keep putting one graceful foot in front of the other. As you plunge your hands into scourging sink water, remember your own hot refining and lean into the heat. When the suds rise up, remember the cleansing God offered 2,000 years ago, once for all. For you and me and our complaining hearts. Lean into the purity that belongs to you, clean and covered. Don't fall into the mud again, dear mom; the mud of bitterness, of harsh nagging and complaints.

I've no doubt you get weary. Sister, so do I. But God isn't calling us in our weakness to do anything He can't muscle with His strength, so bring it to Him - morning, noon, and nighttime too.

[Tweet "God isn't calling us in our weakness to do anything He can't muscle with His strength"]

There's nothing wrong with a good old fashioned cry session. Let the kiddos hop out of the minivan as you go ahead and lay your head on the steering wheel for a bit and cry. Tell Him all about your weak and weary places. However, if you truly want to see the power of God flow into your powerlessness, don't just cry... CRY OUT. "Lord, I need You. I need You to show yourself mighty and strong today."

Bring your burdens to Him, without ceasing. Siphon His strength by grabbing hard to the hem of his holiness.

Like the woman with the issue of blood, who dared take hold of the frayed corners of Jesus's cloak... come to Him in faith, with all your own issues. What's issuing forth from your life right now? Issuing out of your mouth - out of your heart and into your home. Perhaps it's been an issue for years - exasperated sighs and unholy thoughts, words that tear down and hands that have lost all gentleness.

Reach out and cry out, and press into the hot water of refinement, remembering that the cleansing has already been done on your behalf and mine. He has healed every disease threatening to issue out of us again. Believe it, when you're tired. Believe it when your children continue to struggle with issues of their own. Believe it and cry out:

I love the LORD, because He hears My voice and my supplications.Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.

For You have rescued my soul from death, My eyes from tears, My feet from stumbling.

I shall walk before the LORD In the land of the living.

(Psalm 116:1, 8-9, NASB)

Reach out and cry out, yes, but also keep walking it out. Walk it out before the Lord in the land of the living, in the midst of the people you are living with.

They need you to keep doing your job, day after day.

When there are dishes, do them.

When there is homework, help them.

When there are fears, quiet them.

When there are growing pains, rub them.

When there are dirty clothes, clean them.

When there is sin, recognize that your job is to correct, and then correct.

When there is joy, recognize that your job is to celebrate, and celebrate.

When they are melting down from too much sugar, recognize it is your job to help them eat healthy. And you do that too.

And when they are tired, whining at the end of another long day, recognize it is your job to help usher them to bed. And you grab a few winks yourself.

It is so easy to feel the victim each mothering day, but they are simply children being children, and they need you to keep on being mom.

One foot in front of the graceful other.

Keep walking it out, taking your issues to Him. Remembering, He didn't make us victims in our weakness, He made us victorious by HIs strength. He didn't make us victims, He made us moms!

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If you don't miss any future posts from our on-going "You are not a victim, you're a mom" series, sign up to have them delivered straight to your email inbox.

It's common to find yourself overwhelmed by your children's wrong behavior in this intense season of mothering. However, if you are exploding in inappropriate ways toward your loved ones, I encourage you to grab a copy of Triggers: Exchanging Parents' Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses today.

Summertime Parenting - parenting right when our kids keep doing wrong

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Before we focus on any one trigger (what they do incessantly that causes us to explode like a midsummer bottle rocket) let's simply remember what is true: Though they act childish, we're still the adults. (winter, spring, summer, fall...)

 

[Tweet "When our kids do wrong, it's our job to keep parenting right."]

 

I know this is true, because I get to practice it each and every summer day. You see, there's still a lot of conflict in my home  between my boys. Sometimes I indulge, feeling like a victim, and respond in exasperated anger, but then I remember... Triggers are merely opportunities to keep doing the good parenting! Even in the summertime.

Especially in the summertime, with all that concentrated togetherness.

So... who needs to keep doing some good parenting this week? If you're worn out, halfway through summer, and they're whining and complaining... you don't get to. No you don't. Their whining is simply an invitation for you to keep parenting well. And if they're fighting with one another and fighting with you? Again, it's not your job to fight back. You're the adult.

"Let us not grow weary in doing good for in due season (whether winter, spring, summer or fall) we will reap if we do not lose heart!" (Galatians 6:9)

Press on in the good parenting. It's your job! Of course they have a job too... It's their job to push against your boundaries - begging for more screen time, begging for cookies all afternoon - it's how they learn to make good choices for themselves on the other side of growing up. It's how they come to find their own power, by leaning into yours - pushing up and rubbing hard against your boundaries, your power. It's good and normal. Hold firm to what's best for them, though it wearies you something awful; hold onto your boundaries. Let me affirm you! This is hard stuff, but you don't have to fight your kids. Let them ask for the moon, but give them only what you can - what is good for them -  and say no to what they can't have.

Will they keep fighting? Perhaps... but you don't have to fight back.

 

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Use a soft voice and remember that God did a good job when He made you their mom. If the kids are talking nasty, don't you join them. Excuse them to their rooms and remind them that no one in the family is allowed to talk nasty.

"Encourage one another and build each other up." (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Make sure you're getting some exercise and drinking plenty of water (you and the kids.) Watch your sugar intake too, and set some boundaries around other coping mechanisms that can become idols in a mom's life. Alcohol in the afternoon, and time on your phone pulling away from the chaos as you smooth your angst-y nerves.

Summertime triggers are opportunities to parent, not excuses to pull away, slack off, and play the victim.

How do I know this? Because I'd like to pull away more afternoons than I care to admit! I'd absolutely like to pull away to lick my wounds... but most summer days there isn't space for that. So let's press into summer and press into Christ and press on into the good parenting. Grace and good parenting (and a popsicle or two) will get you through.

 

[Tweet "This summer... let's press on into the good parenting. "]

 

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A very sincerely thank you to Amber Lia, my dear friend and co-author of our book Triggers: Exchanging Parents' Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses, for coining the phrase, "Keep doing the good parenting."

It is my own personal mantra, every single day!

 

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