By Brenda L. Yoder, MA
I realized I only had two years with all of my kids at home and if something didn’t change, their childhood memories of me would be of an angry, contentious woman. That wasn’t the mom I wanted to be.
No mom dreams of being a yeller. New brides don’t anticipate the havoc they’ll wreak in their homes by being out of balance. Women don’t look forward to the times they snap at their kids in public because they’re stressed with too many demands.
But life happens.
It happened to me. Not just once, but so much that it characterized our family. It characterized me as an out-of-balance mom behind closed doors.
Out-of-balance living happens not in the once-in-a-whiles, but in skewed normalcy.
“The kids just want to see you have joy” my husband said more than once. I didn’t realize the stress, anger, and mess I felt inside spilled out so much. Normally, you don’t see you own ugliness.
It affected them. I needed to take ownership of it.
I’m a mom of four kids within a nine-year span. After being home full-time for a decade, I was teaching 180 high school kids in our local school at the time of my unbalanced wake-up call. I loved teaching. I loved mentoring kids and pouring into their lives. I received teaching awards. Our house ran smoothly. My husband was an elder and I taught Sunday School. I ran two miles a day and had meals on the table every night.
We looked great with our picture-perfect image
But I was a mess.
In the stress, internal messiness, and out-of-control trying-to-do-it-all, relationships with my family suffered. While I did great with the teens I worked with, I was failing with my teen at home. As a mom to only one girl going through adolescence, I was reactionary, angry, and contentious with her. It overflowed to the younger kids and my husband.
My marriage was bad. My mother-child relationship was out of control, and something had to change.
Then, God reminded me that life with kids is fleeting and change needed to happen. I knew change wouldn’t happen overnight. I also realized
I didn’t like the memories my kids would have if I continued in my pulled-to-the-limit lifestyle.
I took a risk and changed what I could control. I realized I couldn’t change my husband or kids to meet my needs. I assessed what I needed for peace of mind, better life balance, and managing my anger.
I began saying “no” to things to work on the internal mess which needed healing. I said “yes” to repairing relationships and making time for God.
All of these took risk. Financial, personal, and lifestyle risks.
There’s more to this story, which is in the my new book, “Balance, Busyness and Not Doing It All.” The book is a practical, spiritual, and personal tool to help women and moms find what’s most important during the busiest years of parenting. It’s part of a larger story of living life well being the storybook image that you can learn about at brendayoder.com.
I never intended to write a book when change happened. It was truly for survival and healing for me and my family. But as I speak to and counsel women, it’s a familiar cry from most all moms:
How do you balance all the roles and responsibilities you have?
The answer is—you don’t by trying to do it all. It’s found in God’s word, a relationship with Him, and understanding yourself more.
So join me in balance, busyness and not doing it all. I’m still living it while raising kids. Busyness never goes away. Balance is how you live life while it’s happening.
What do you struggle with as a busy mom? What questions or struggles do you have?
Comment below and you’ll enter to win a giveaway for one copy of Balance, Busyness, and Not Doing It All. I’d love to hear from you!
To purchase the book, go to balancebusynessandnotdoingitall.com or Amazon.
Brenda is an author and speaker with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a BA in Education. After teaching middle school and high school, she’s a currently a school counseling professional with a private practice. She was twice awarded the “Powerful Connection” award for teachers.
She’s a parenting columnist for 10 To 20 Parenting, Choose Now Ministries, and Whatever Girls. Brenda has been featured in Chicken Soup For The Soul:Reboot Your Life and two books, Who Do You Say I Am and Balance, Busyness, and Not Doing It All are releasing in 2015. Her ministry, Life Beyond the Picket Fence, can be found at brendayoder.com where she writes about faith, life and parenting beyond the storybook image. Brenda is a wife and mom of four children, ranging from middle school to young adult.
Brenda is active on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.
By Jen Ferguson
I’m betting you, Mom, don’t feel satisfied in every area of your life every single day. And I’m betting that you, like me, try to do something to change this, even if it’s just a momentary lift.
It happens. We feel lonely, we go get some chocolate or wine and settle into a good book. We feel restless, we begin to think about exotic vacations. We feel out of control in our household environment, we leave for a run or a night out with friends. Anything to escape these negative, and at times, overwhelming feelings. We’re made to crave light. We don’t like dreariness.
I’m glad I have outlets and I think God gives us fantastic writers, good chocolate, and amazing friends to help us deal with the pressures of this life. But we have to evaluate what we’re running to, lest we find ourselves seeking joy and pleasure in these outlets instead of our relationship with Jesus. See we crave light, but we often substitute the true light of Jesus for flashy neon ones. The world twinkles, doesn’t it? And we are often drawn in by its lure like a moth to a flame.
So much of the world is fake, though, right? But even though we know this somewhere in the back of our minds, we try to let worldly expectations become our reality. We allow our minds and our hearts to be deeply influenced by Hollywood movies for sure, but it’s also lurking in books. There’s an entire shelf at Goodreads.com dedicated to category of “Mommy Porn.”
See, the world saw us as unhappy moms who were dissatisfied with our sex lives and it told us that we needed to escape into a world where satisfaction was pinnacle and the way to get it was to embrace erotica and find ourselves sexually.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with knowing what pleases us. I think God totally wants us to enjoy sex. He created it, right? It’s a gift for us. And He created our bodies to be arousing for our spouses. Read Song of Solomon and you’ll find we were meant to explore each other. But when we embrace torrid affairs and domination, our expectations change. If we weren’t already satisfied, we sure won’t be now either. We’re spending our time getting lost in a world that’s not reality.
But what can be reality? I truly believe God wants you to have an amazing sex life. But what if we consult Him about out sex lives instead of worldly books? What if we ask Him to help fix what doesn’t satisfy? And what if our bringing our less-than-stellar bedroom experiences to Him also allows us to grow closer with our husbands spiritually and emotionally?
What if we don’t cut God out of our sex lives, but instead ask Him to be Lord over it?
Crazy, right? We don’t often think about God in the bedroom. But the truth is, the Bible addresses sex and marriage a lot. Which means, He’s probably pretty interested in helping yours be awesome. But He doesn’t need help from “Mommy Porn” books. And if you use them to ignite the bedroom flame, you run the risk of setting your marriage up for failure.
We will be unpacking these thoughts for the next few months because your view on marriage and sex will influence your daughter’s view on marriage and sex. It can be really difficult to teach something to our kids if we don’t really know it ourselves. And, girls, our God wants us to KNOW Him.
Have you heard about Whatever Girls Live and the 10:3 Campaign?
By: Shari A. Miller
I treasure my family history. I love learning about things from the past, what my grandparents and great-grandparents were like and how they lived so long ago. The legacies our families leave us are everything. They make up who we are, who we will become and what we can overcome.
The picture above was taken during the dust bowl days in the little farming town of Cimarron, Kansas. The tallest girls pictured were my aunts. The little one in front, with the golden curls, holding the purse, was my mother. She was smiling and my aunt to the far left was frowning because it was her purse.
My grandparents had their hands full with three boys and four girls during the 1930’s. My mother still brags to this day how wonderful a cook my grandmother was, and how she could do just about anything. My grandparents were very intentional in how they raised their children.
They taught them how to love Jesus, to be kind to one another, and to work hard. Life on a wheat farm was not easy back then, but they all pitched in together to make it work. They were taught the value of a dollar, and that the most important things in life were free, their love for God and family.
In 1952, my mom married my father, he also grew up on a wheat farm and learned the value of hard work as well. Together they raised three children to know the Lord and live for Him.
Now, it’s our turn.
Together with my husband, it’s our turn to take the legacies that have been handed down from each generation and create new legacies for our two children. In order for the legacies to be established well, it takes hard work, just like with anything in life.
Teaching our children to love the Lord and accept Him as their Savior, to have good values, to be kind to others and to work hard doesn’t just happen. It takes hard work and intentional planning on both our parts to plant the seeds that will grow and prosper in our children’s lives.
The following list is how my husband and I approach being intentional parents with our children
- We come together as a couple in prayer and reading God’s Word to learn how He wants us to teach our children.
- We try to model the same behavior to our children that we want them to model. By no means are we perfect at this, we are both sinners saved by God’s grace. However during the times we do fail, we use those moments to teach our children. We use them as examples for what not to do next time, and look at how things could be done better in the future.
- We go to church and have family devotions together. There’s nothing more important than having a family who is centered on the Lord, who learn that no matter what they can go to Him in good times and bad alike.
- We teach our children how important it is to work hard, and to do whatever they do to the best of their abilities.
- We have fun together. We want to teach our children to laugh and enjoy life and to treasure the good times that comes their way.
- We are very involved in our children’s lives. We want to take advantage of every moment we can possibly have with them, and use those moments for training and teaching them.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
When we work at accomplishing these things, our own legacies are formed that our children can take from and add to when they grow and have children of their own.
What type of type of legacies were left for you, that you want to pass down to your children? What are some ways that you intentionally parent your children?
It happened so quickly. I plucked one dead flower off the branch. And then another. And another. This felt good, I knew I was helping to prune the plant and by taking away all the dead yuck, I was making it a much better flower. I was helping this flower live a much better life.
I pulled off a live flower.
And it was a really pretty one
In my haste to take all the yuck away, I too quickly ripped out a sweet part. A part that could really bring joy to someone.
And while I cleaned the fallen petals, ripped yuck, and this one beautiful example of life off the bench, I remembered my tone the afternoon before when I was criticizing my husband. In front of the kids. As I was telling him how I thought he should step up and talk to the lifeguard about my son’s lessons, I was trying to help him to become a “better dad.” And while I thought I was getting away the yuck, I think I pulled a little life from him. What does it look like if I am “fixing” him all the time? What message does that send my daughter? What message does it to send to my sons?
In a message I heard my pastor teach, “Your words can make someone revile the gospel.” More specifically, my words and actions can make someone hate the gospel. By ripping apart my husband like I ripped off those dead parts of the flower, I inadvertently ripped a living part of him, in doing so I was not showing an example of grace and love to my children that should be found in a marriage.
Now, I am not saying that spouses should not ever argue in front of their children. Quite the opposite, personally I think it is healthy to have some disagreements in front of the kids as long as your children see a resolution and that during the disagreement, there was an element of respect displayed by both parents.
And when I thought of what I did to him, I remembered different times I tried to “fix” my kids by making them into a little adults that acted more like me. For my daughter specifically, how many times have I been frustrated because she acted differently in a situation than I would and I tell her how to fix it. Could it be that with every “fixing ” session, I might accidentally pull a piece of her uniqueness that God created in her?
May I choose my words carefully and prayerfully. May I join my daughter in being pruned by the Holy Spirit and not by calloused words.
Now, your turn, was there ever a time when you were pruned in a hasty manner or was there a time when someone challenged you so gracefully, it actually brought you more life?
My second daughter just celebrated her twelfth birthday. As her and I drove around town running some errands, we had a beautiful heart to heart. We have had wedding and marriage on the brain lately as my baby sister was very recently married. So my daughter and I were discussing her future wedding and husband. At first she was being very silly. Saying silly things she wanted in her husband and silly things she wanted out of life. But then our talk became serious.
We discussed that even though she is only twelve years old, she needs to be praying for her husband now. This is something I have done for all of my children for years. But it is time that she does it as well.
Our girls need to begin now pray for their future husband. If she starts this practice now, she will be creating a beautiful habit of praying for him for life.
…his walk with God
…relationship with his family
…schooling and career choice
I tell my kids all of the time that every choice we make now effects our future life. If she is praying for him now to walk with God, have a solid relationship with his family, and so on, it will have a positive effect her marriage.
Do you pray for your children’s future mate? Do you teach your children to pray for their future mate?
I would give just about anything for teen girls to understand how valuable they are on their own. As in; without that guy, without that brand of clothing, without that certain group of friends, without that make-up their mom won’t let them wear yet, and without everything else that they think validates them and brings them significance among their peers and as they walk through the halls at school.
Girls are giving away pieces of their innocence and a precious time in their lives they can never get back by believing they need to meet someone else’s standards. It’s not surprising; the media, television shows, magazines and movies are all shooting flaming arrows at our girls that pierce their very hearts and spirits with these toxic messages.
Girls, please don’t worry about what that guy thinks of you. At this age, he’s not even remotely capable of giving you the kind of fulfilling relationship your heart yearns for. Right now he’s confused and feeling awkward about himself, even if it seems like he has it all together. Take this time to pray for your future spouse and thank God that He has given you an opportunity to bypass the drama and heartache so many of your friends will experience. God’s plan for you is far better than anything you can imagine. Will you trust Him? Will you be patient?
What kind of friends are you surrounding yourself with? Do they know you? Really know you? Do they build you up or tear you down? Does being friends with them bring you closer to God, or does He get put on the back burner? Do you sneak around behind your parent’s back with these friends, or is following rules and respecting adults important to your friends, too?
You are beautiful and precious just as you are. The creator of the universe designed you and has given you a purpose that only you can fulfill. The cute boy, designer clothes, latest I-Pod and cool friends don’t define you-God does. And until that sinks in and becomes the most important thing to you, you will be spinning your wheels in search of true joy and fulfillment that only He can give.
Take away: Jeremiah 29:11 and Psalm 139:13-16. Read these verses and thank God for His love and perfect plan for your life. Memorize these verses and tuck them into your heart so that when you need a reminder of how much God loves you and your worth, you only need to look as far as your heart.
Girls: Do you pray for your future husband?
Moms: Do you pray for your future son in law?