9 Tips for Feeding Your Family for Less!

Today I’m welcoming guest poster Brittany to Homemaking for His Glory! She is a wife and mother with some great tips to share on frugal living.

grocery shopping on a budget

Hey homemaker, momma, friend! Are you tired of busting your budget beyond belief at the grocery store? Are you tired of clipping coupon after coupon and never seeming to make any progress?

Been there, done that

If I have learned anything in these four years of budgeting and frugal living, it’s that the easiest area to overspend on is groceries.

So, let’s talk about this!

My family eats breakfast, lunch, and dinner from home for almost every meal. We usually eat lunch and dinner with family on Sundays, and then we budget for one meal eaten out every two weeks. So in total we eat on average 32 meals at home every two weeks.

Our grocery budget is $95 for food each two week period.

**Disclosure: We DO NOT purchase beef or pork at the store, we send locally raised animals to the butcher. Our last bill for a whole pig was $195 – which we thought was a stellar deal for an entire freezer full of meat that will last us almost a year!

How is this possible you ask? Lots of practice and discipline!

#1 Meal Plan

This is the most important aspect of grocery budgeting. I notice when I do not have a meal plan, I overspend by buying a ton of unnecessary food. Now, when I say meal plan, I do not mean you have to know what you are having every day. I like a little more flexibility than that! (But if you want to do it that way, you go girl!)

Side note from Laura: You can get a 28 Day Meal Plan for FREE by subscribing to Homemaking for His Glory. Just use the nifty little box below.

I meal plan by trying to figure out what types of things we want that pay period, finding healthy recipes and writing down the name and ingredients necessary. I then check over my list and compare it to what we already have in the pantry! I do this with 4 recipes and a variety of sides a week, and then add in what we all want for breakfast and lunches. Ta-Da! You have a meal plan!

#2 Price Check

After coming up with my grocery list I will go to my Walmart grocery app and check the price of my list (I do not actually buy at Walmart). I always know my list is going to cost less than the app says, however I have a better idea of if we have a little room for some special treats, or if we need to readjust.

#3 Shop At A Discount Store

My store is Aldi, however I have heard a lot of people have a Kroger’s or Costco. I know that I can go to Aldi and spend on average 2/3 or less of what I would spend on my groceries at Walmart. I get everything I can there, and then I will usually shop at Walmart for toiletries.

#4 Buy Generic

When you can, buy generic. I am not picky about brands except for with soda. It’s okay to have your ‘thing’ that you want brand name. However, pick a few things that you have to have name brand, and compromise on the rest. Your budget will thank you later.

#5 Don’t Forget Snacks

With a 15 month old, we frequently have snacks on hand – it’s the mom code, right? We have to be diligent about including these in our grocery lists, this way we know what we are after and do not just start grabbing snacks that he might like.

#6 DIY

If you have the ability to have a small garden, bake your own bread, or harvest your own meat, do it! It will save your grocery budget in the long run.

#7 Stock AS NEEDED

There are obvious things we have to keep on hand at all times. We keep condiments stocked, as well as baking supplies. We do this by adding them to our grocery list as we run out of them.

#8 All In One Trip

The more trips we make to the store, the more likely we are to buy unnecessary stuff. I like to do my shopping all in one fell swoop and not go back to the store unless I absolutely have to. One way we combat multiple trips is by buying fruit (like pineapple) that has to be cut up in order to be eaten, or by buying frozen veggies.

#9 Remember… It’s God’s Money

If your friend gave you $25 and a list to get groceries for her, would you overspend? Or grab unnecessary items? Of course not! Remember as you are shopping that ALL things belong to God! Are we being good stewards of His money? This is a humbling thought to remember. We are so blessed with the opportunity to be able to afford groceries for our families, lets remember to give God the glory in ALL things! Even at our local Aldi!

These are all tips we have found to be extremely helpful in keeping our grocery budget low and in control without buying in bulk or cutting coupons. What tips do you have for keeping your grocery budget low? What do you think is hardest aspect about being a frugal homemaker in this way? Tell us in the comments!

Brittany is a stay at home mom to a 15 month old little man and a wife to her husband of 3 years. She spends her days working on developing their small family homestead, spending time in the Word, gardening, and soaking up all the joys of toddlerhood. She is passionate about helping mothers create lasting legacies, simplistic lifestyles, and navigating the struggles of everyday life with God’s guidance and love.

The One Thing You Need for This Summer – A GIVEAWAY!

beach body, comparison trap, body image

Today I’m hosting a GIVEAWAY for one of my favorite books! I had the privilege of being on the launch team back when it was first released, and now one of my readers will win a free copy! Scroll to the bottom of this post and click on the Rafflecopter link to enter!

This post contains affiliate links. I also received a copy of this book for free for the purposes of review. All opinions are my own. See full disclosure here. 

I remember the first time my body image took a hit. It was nearly 15 years ago, but I still remember it vividly. I was at Awana one Wednesday night in 4th grade. As the other girls chattered, I quietly washed my hands. One girl had gotten her ears pierced recently, so everyone was pulling their hair back and showing off their earrings.

I did not have pierced ears, but I subconsciously pushed my hair behind my ears so it would be out of my face.

Laura, you have such little ears! Look at her ears, they’re TINY!

I pulled my hair back over my now red ears and tried to maintain a sense of dignity as I walked out of the church bathroom.

Now, this was a really stupid incident that probably shouldn’t have bothered me, but it did. And you know what? I didn’t get my ears pierced because I was so self-conscious about them and I thought earrings would draw more attention to their weird size.

Would you like to know how long it took me to get over that? EIGHT YEARS. Unfortunately, I’m not kidding.

I attended a Christian university. Among the freshmen, perhaps the most infamous course was “women’s evangelism.” I personally did not take this course, but one of my friends did. And it drove her insane.

“I am a BEAUTIFUL creation of GOD!” she told me in a sing-song tone. “We have to say that at the beginning of every class. Just ugh.”

After a while, my friend started saying “I am a depraved wretch saved only by the grace of God.”

She’s a rebel like that.

While I dodged the bullet of taking that particular class, the ideas presented are fairly common in Christian culture.

It’s what’s inside that counts.

Everyone is beautiful in their own way.

Every woman who regularly attends church has heard those two things approximately 872439 times. And if they’re like me, they tuned out on the subject around age 14.

Compared to Who? by Heather Creekmore takes a different approach to these issues. Instead of telling the reader that she just needs more self-esteem, she deals with the root cause of body image issues: idolatry.

“I didn’t realize how my body image issues kept me bound and, truthfully, dead. I couldn’t experience the freedom of new life in Christ because I was held captive to the belief my answer was in fixing my appearance. I tried to justify myself by making my ouside pretty enough to earn acceptance. It’s been my experience that a lot of self-named “good girls” like me never ventured into obvious rebellion, yet still engage in a desperate search or worth, value, and joy in ways contrary to God’s plan.” – Heather Creekmore, Compared to Who, p. 75

Buckle your seatbelts, friends. It’s a convicting ride.

My favorite part of the book was when Heather contrasted the modern concept of self-esteem with what the Bible actually says about loving God, our neighbors, and ourselves. While I have grown up in the church and have heard countless discussions about self-esteem, Compared to Who showed me some truths that I had never heard.

When we battle body image, there is a root issue at work. When we say things like “Oh my goodness, you’re so skinny! I hate you,” we’re committing the sin of envy. When we covet what another has, we’re breaking one of the Ten Commandments. When we think that being thin would be that ONE THING that would make us happy, we’re making that one thing an idol: something that we serve instead of God.

Friend, if you claim Christ as your Savior, if you say you are saved, I want you to ask yourself, honestly, if you’ve really allowed Him to rescue all of you. Do you believe He can help you with your body image issues? Do you believe He can replace your affections with a greater affection for Him? Do you believe that you can find true and transcendent joy and peace in Him alone, or do you still think that maybe one of your idols will deliver? – Heather Creekmore, Compared to Who, p. 119

Until we’re honest with ourselves about our sin, we will never be free from the shackles of the comparison trap.

The key distinctive of Compared to Who is a focus on the root issues paired with an emphasis on Scriptural truths that point the reader towards the Lord and how He would want us to live. At the same time, it’s not confusing or technical. I would recommend this book for Christian women of all ages. Moms of teens may want to preview, since there is a mention of sex towards the end of the book.

Compared to Who can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christianbook.com, and wherever Christian books are sold. To learn more about the author, Heather Creekmore, check out her blog at comparedtowho.me.

Click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter the giveaway! The giveaway will close on May 1st.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

5 Ways to Keep Your Children From Ruining Your Marriage

A note from Laura: This post contains affiliate links. For my full disclosure, click here.

Today I’m welcoming one of my blogging friends to Homemaking for His Glory! Rebekah’s writing always makes me stop and think about my assumptions. A belief can be commonly held without being true! Like Rebekah, I also married young and started having children quickly afterwards.In her book, Lies Moms Believe, she talks a lot about unbiblical ideas that have seeped into our culture and how we should respond.

strengthen your marriage

I share pretty candidly in both Lies Moms Believe (And How the Gospel Refutes Them) and in the companion Bible study that when our second child was born not even three years into our marriage, my husband and I entered into a very hard season. Between our son’s aversion to sleep, his gas problems resulting from a dairy and egg intolerance, and just typical postpartum issues, things became very strained for a time between Owen and me. Intimacy was at an all-time low as a result of the sleeping arrangements, my temper and frustration level were at an all-time high, and I began to find myself forgetting who the man I married even was as I failed to really look at him and see him in the midst of all the crazy.

Because of just how challenging the tail end of 2016 and first half of 2017 were, I would be the prime candidate to buy into the common cultural lie that children ruin marriages. But I can honestly write to you today, firmly believing with all my heart, that they do not. Children certainly bring challenges to a marriage. They do reduce the full scope of freedom and time to yourself that you had before they arrived on the scene. Little ones sometimes make it hard for you to get a word in edge-wise with your husband. All of that is true. But what is not true is that children ruin marriages. Spouses who fall prey to the tricks of Satan are the ones who ruin marriages. Spouses who fail to be intentional about prioritizing their marriage above all else (second only to God, of course!) are who ruin marriages. 

These may seem like harsh words, but please trust the spirit in which I am writing them. I come from a place of knowing how hard parenting can be on your marriage – we had our first baby when we had only been married 10 months! I likewise come from a place of knowing that we always have a choice as to how we will respond to the challenges brought about by parenting. We always have a choice as to how we will treat our spouses, invest in our marriages, and build each another up.

So, with that in mind, I want to offer you 5 things to remember when it comes to being intentional to not fall prey to the schemes of the Enemy.

  • Remember your marriage came first.

Unfortunately, what often happens to us moms is that as soon as we become mothers we begin to focus all our thoughts, time, and attention on our children, largely forgetting our husbands exist or else relegating them to the back burner. It is true that mothering takes up a lot of time and that in particular seasons especially (such as the newborn stage!), a lot of attention will be required by our children. Even then, however, we still have a choice to make. We can – and should! – still choose to focus on our husbands, too, remembering that they came before the children, and that they will be the only one still there with us after our children grow up and leave. The time to be investing in our marriages is now. The time to be focusing on our husbands is now – no matter what else is going on in our lives.

  • Remember you were called to be a partner and helper before you were called to be a mother.

Genesis 2:18 shows us that women were created to be helpers and partners in the grand mission of  fulfilling the dominion mandate (and, in our day, the Great Commission, as well). As a wife, you have been called to be your husband’s helper in life, his right-hand woman, his partner. This was a calling handed down to you by God before the calling of mother was ever given to you. Remembering this proper ordering of your priorities will go a long way towards preventing your children from “ruining” your marriage, because you will be working towards the strength of your marriage even in the midst of your days as a mom.

  • Remember to take the time to prioritize your marriage. 

This is so, so important and is the main way you are going to keep from feeling as if your children are “ruining” your marriage. If you invest in your marriage today, you will be so grateful tomorrow that you did. And do you know what else? Your children will be, too! A strong marriage provides a firm foundation of security for your little ones, a picture of what marriage is supposed to be like, and a beautiful symbol of Christ and His relationship to the church.

Investing in your marriage during this busy season of parenting can feel challenging to do sometimes. What we have to remember is that even the little things add up, because it is ultimately all about our hearts and how we are viewing (and therefore treating) our husbands. Investing in your marriage can look like everything from dancing with your man in the kitchen, cooking together, laughing together about your children’s antics, playing games together, looking over old pictures from when you were dating or from your wedding day and reminiscing, to intentionally making it a priority to go on regular date nights with your husband, enjoying date nights in, prioritizing intimacy, and even bigger things like overnight or weekend get-aways. No matter what season of parenting you are in, you can find a way to intentionally prioritize your marriage in the midst of it.

  • Remember to pray for and with your husband. 

Nothing binds your hearts together as husband and wife in quite the same way as does praying for and with each other (reading and discussing the Word together is wonderful for this, too!). Parenting brings with it countless questions, challenges, and decisions. What better way to handle them all than to go before the Lord together in prayer on behalf of your children? It’s also important to pray for your spouse, that they would be built up in this season of marriage, parenting, work, ministry, and whatever else the two of you may be involved in during this stage of your life. Interceding like this will warm your heart towards your husband and increase the love and affection you feel for him.

  • Remember to come together, not pull apart in the hard times. 

My parents each wrote separate letters to me and Owen when we got married, and in each one they gave this wise advice: when life gets hard and you face challenges, do not drift apart; instead, come together and cling to one other. Marriages do not fall apart all in one moment. Typically, it’s little choices made day after day across a span of time, little choices to be unintentional, to just let life happen, and to not focus on each other the way we should. The fact of the matter is that we will, over time and as a result of Satan’s attacks, our sin natures, and life’s happenings, gradually drift apart bit by bit if we are not intentionally coming together and prioritizing each other. It is that crucial that we focus on our marriages as we should. I believe this is precisely why the Lord emphasizes intimacy in marriage (going so far as to dedicate an entire book of His Word to the topic!), and why Satan will do everything he can to ruin that area of our marriages. When parenting is proving to be challenging, cling to your husband. You can’t afford not to. You can’t afford to believe the lie that you “don’t have time” to do so. This is what God has given you time for!

There is Always Hope!

When parenting proves to be especially challenging, and your marriage is starting to fall by the wayside, look up. Fix your eyes on Christ. Ask Him for the wisdom and strength to do what you need to do for the sake of your marriage. Remember that your children are still blessings; they are not ruining your marriage. Remember that no matter what is going on in your life, the Lord is still in the redeeming business and can work in your marriage in countless amazing ways. Married life with children may prove difficult sometimes, but it can also be so beautiful. Just take a glance at Psalm 128 to see what I mean (consider this your homework assignment)!

God bless you, mama, as you seek to be both the wife and the mama you have been called by God to be.

Rebekah Hargraves is a wife, mama of two littles, blogger, podcaster, and author whose passion is to edify, equip, and encourage women in their journey of Biblical womanhood, particularly with an emphasis on the gospel and its implications for everyday life. Rebekah’s first book, “Lies Moms Believe (And How the Gospel Refutes Them)” released last fall, and the “Lies Moms Believe” Companion Bible Study comes out March 30, 2018. You can find Rebekah on her website, Hargraves Home and Hearth, on Instagram, or on iTunes via her podcast.

7 Things in ‘New Life’ that Will Give You Hope

This post is sponsored by the ‘New Life’ film. It was written in partnership with Erin Bethea. This post also contains affiliate links. For my full disclosure, click here. 

#christianfilm #familyfriendly #newlifefilm

Christmas can be a challenging time of year for those who have experienced loss. I know some people who are dealing with the loss of a loved one right now, and they are constantly in my prayers!

Christmas is the time when we remember how Jesus came to earth: not in pomp and circumstance, nor as a military conqueror, but rather as a baby. He was fully God and fully man. To convey this truth, the book of Hebrews describes Jesus as our great high priest.

Hebrews 4:15 says “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

Because Jesus was fully man as well as fully God, He experienced many of the same difficulties that humans do. He suffered rejection by others. He endured physical pain when he was crucified. He lost a loved one. Jesus understands our struggles.

New Life is a Christian film whose goal is to encourage people to hold onto hope in the midst of grief.

The official synopsis says, “The movie tells the story of Benjamin Morton (Jonathan Patrick Moore) and Ava (Erin Bethea), who meet as children. What began as a childhood friendship grows into a meaningful relationship as the two plan out their lives together. When life takes a turn neither of them expected, their entire future is called into question, and they must decide what it really means to make the most of life.”

Erin Bethea, the producer and lead actress of the film, is best known for her previous roles in the Christian films Fireproof and Facing the Giants. New Life is a production by Argentum Entertainment, which seeks to create quality films that do not contain objectionable content. 

7 Things in New Life that Will Give You Hope This Christmas

  1. Children who see the world in a unique way
    Kids Laughing

2. People who can always make you laugh

Margaret

3. Realizing that sometimes the best part of fighting is the making up

Ben Ava Kiss

4. Parents who believe in their children

DadBenHug

5. Those who dedicate their lives to helping others

SumrallThanks

6. Family and Friends who give comfort when times are hard

Dont Cry

7. Knowing that we are never truly alone

SailboatNew Life is available now on DVD. You can pick up your copy here!

For more information, you can check out New Life’s website, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

The 5 Best Books I Read in 2017

This post contains affiliate links. For my full disclosure, click here.

best christian books

Reading is a form of self-care for me. When my first son was a baby, I found that I was physically busy with endless nursing, but I wasn’t mentally busy. A certain level of mental stimulation was required to keep me from feeling like nothing more than a milk machine.

My list is in the order that I read the books. I’d say all of them are equal in the quality of the content.

I do most of my reading on my Kindle Paperwhite. I’ve had it for a year and a half now and I love it! With the exception of Everyday Hope, all of the books on this list are available in both print and ebook format.

  1. A Retrospect: The Story Behind my Zeal for Missions – J. Hudson Taylor

 When I was young, my mom read the Hero Tales books to us as part of our homeschooling. They are collections of short stories about missionaries. Hudson Taylor was one of my favorites. The founder of the China Inland Mission, he placed an emphasis on evangelism. He chose not to be distracted by cultural differences if they weren’t based in immorality. To this end, he chose to dress like Chinese men did. Even as a little girl, his priorities impressed me.

Hudson Taylor

2. Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full  by Gloria Furman

I’ve read a lot of books on my Kindle. This is the only one that I’ve loved enough to purchase a print edition as well. If you only read one book about motherhood, it should be this one.

Gloria Furman never strays from her laser focus on the Gospel and how it shapes everything we do. Particularly when you have all little children, it’s easy to lose sight of the greater picture and of how what you’re doing matters.

Even moms who haven’t thrown a tantrum in a while can relate to feeling that they’ve had enough as they limp to the end of the day, emotionally drained and exasperated. For many of us, the frustration stems from the unreasonable expectations we have for ourselves. Instead of the sweet relief and satisfaction that come from a long day of good, hard work, we stew over the mistakes, missed opportunities, and foibles. ‘There are no perfect moms,’ we quip, but we’ll die trying to prove we might be the exception. – Gloria Furman

Can you relate to that? I know I do. In the age of Pinterest, it’s easy to feel like everyone is doing all the things. But they’re not.

And a lot of those things don’t even matter anyway. Your child isn’t going to remember how he was born or what he was fed as a baby. He’s going to remember that you loved him.

3. Everyday Hope by Kayse Pratt

I stumbled upon this book by accident. It was a part of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle this year. While the 2017 edition of the bundle is no longer available, Everyday Hope can still be purchased by itself by clicking on the image below.

While our circumstances were different, I could relate to a lot of Kayse’s thoughts on when having babies doesn’t go as planned. It’s easy to get discouraged when something that we think should be “easy” turns into a medical crisis. Her words were a balm to my weary soul at a time when I was struggling.

God has given your child to you, and given you to your child. Your place as his momma is a divine appointment, and you can trust that He didn’t make a mistake! – Kayse Pratt

 

4. Compared to Who by Heather Creekmore

Compared to Who was my first book launch team ever. It far exceeded my expectations, going far beyond the typical Christian cliche answers to comparison issues. Heather Creekmore doesn’t just say “Jesus made you perfectly” and move on. This is a book with depth and with sections that will make you stop and think.

I actually re-read it recently. As I write this, I’m in my third trimester with a boy who is on track to be as large as his nine pound brother was. When you’re built the way I am, there’s no getting around the fact that the disproportionate bump looks ridiculous. And I hear comments on the ridiculousness. Frequently. It’s like people think I don’t already know.

The comparison starts to creep back in…how come she gets to have normal sized kids? Why can’t my placenta go where it’s supposed to be? Why is my tummy the size of a mountain?

Comparison is poison. It’s a trap. It’s a joy-killer. It’s not okay.

I’ll probably be re-reading this book every so often for a long time. I’m glad His mercies are new every morning!

Friend, if you claim Christ as your Savior, if you say you are saved, I want you to ask yourself, honestly, if you’ve really allowed Him to rescue all of you. Do you believe He can help you with your body image issues? Do you believe He can replace your affections with a greater affection for Him? Do you believe that you can find true and transcendent joy and peace in Him alone, or do you still think that maybe one of your idols will deliver? – Heather Creekmore

5. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus was a recommendation from my brother-in-law. Nabeel Qureshi died earlier this year from stomach cancer, but his legacy lives on in his book about his conversion from Islam to Christianity.

Nabeel’s story is compelling. I learned a lot about Muslim beliefs and religious practices. His family took their faith very seriously. When the author converted, he wasn’t just changing religions. It required sacrificing the approval of his parents. He wrote the following passage about the emotional fall out from his conversion:

While I was wallowing in self-pity, focused on myself, there was a whole world with literally billions of people who had no idea who God is, how amazing He is, and the wonders He has done for us. They are the ones who are really suffering. They don’t know His hope, His peace, and His love that transcends all understanding. – Nabeel Qureshi

All of these books challenged me in one way or another. While no book is more important of a read than the Bible itself, other books can also encourage us in our faith. I hope these are a blessing to you as well!

What is the best book you’ve read this year?

What is a Homemaker, Anyway?

what is a homemaker

I stumbled into homemaking.

You may have imagined me as a teenager who looked forward to domestic life. I actually dropped home economics in favor of taking AP Psychology in 12th grade. I didn’t cook at all until after I graduated from college.

Before I got married, I was rather intense. I went to nationals in debate, wrote for a debate sourcebook, interned in DC, and graduated summa cum laude from college.

While I intended to work until my husband and I had children, we quickly discovered that we would be having children a bit sooner than expected. Additionally, we moved frequently for my husband’s job.

So my type-A self became not only a stay at home mom, but a stay at home wife for several months before my son was born.

Major life change.

That first pregnancy was rough, and I was only functional about half of the time. During the other half, I was too sick to do much of anything.

When I was functioning, I would work on learning how to manage my home. I learned how to cook from scratch, how to coupon, and how to have a cleaning routine. I knitted items for my baby on the way. I volunteered with Awana.

It was radically different from the fast-paced lifestyle I’d lived in college. Once I no longer had the external validation of grades and a paycheck, I realized that I had found my worth in those things to a degree that was unhealthy.

As I settled into my new life as a mom, I started writing. My blog is called Homemaking for His Glory…

…but homemaking isn’t really the point. Serving Jesus wherever you are is the point.

Your value is not in what you do, but in Whose you are. God can be glorified as you clean a double wide just as much as He can be glorified during a hearing on Capitol Hill.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31 KJV

I don’t believe that it’s wrong for women to work or go to college. I worked before I was married, I still make small amounts of money from this blog, and I am generally pro-college.

Perhaps you are home full time with young children, like I am. Maybe you’re in school, or working, or even both. You might be single. Ladies from all of those categories are homemakers.

Even if you don’t stay home full time or have children, you most likely do some homemaking tasks.

Laundry. Cooking. Vacuuming. Helping kids with homework. Organizing. Hosting friends for dinner.

Nearly all adult women do some of these things, whether they’re married or not. Sometimes we look at these things as lesser or boring, but they need to be done. We all have to eat, and we all have to wear clean clothes. (Okay, maybe that last one is just a strong suggestion. 😉

Dream of doing great things for God, but don’t neglect serving Him in the small things either.

Because that’s really what the Christian life is all about: doing ALL things to the best of our ability…for His glory.

Mothering with Your Eyes on Jesus

This post contains affiliate links. I also received a free copy of this book for the purpose of writing a review. All opinions are my own. For my full disclosure, click here.

mommy guilt

As I write this, my firstborn is 18 months old. While sometimes I feel like I pick up the same items 750 times a day, it’s also a fun stage. He’s able to talk and interact more, and he can feed himself table food.

When I reflect on his babyhood, most of my challenges can be summarized in one phrase: tunnel vision. 

We dealt with 3.5 months of colic, and I honestly wasn’t sure how we were going to manage. Nothing helped. He had a dairy sensitivity which was thankfully identified early. Something was wrong with his neck.

Did I mention that we moved when he was 3 months old?

All of these things were all-consuming at the time, yet they all passed eventually.

Things that seemed to really matter don’t seem so important in hindsight.

My husband glanced over my shoulder as I was looking over Rebekah Hargraves’ recent guest post for my blog. “When Mommy Guilt Comes Calling?” he inquired. “Is that a thing? I thought it was just you.”

Oh no, my dear. It isn’t just me.

Guilt is a joy-killer, and many of us struggle with it every day.

By its very nature, parenting a newborn is physically and emotionally intense. I wrote down every diaper, every feeding, and every little thing that seemed slightly wrong. To a certain extent, it’s necessary.

However, sometimes we can find ourselves so consumed that we lose sight of the greater picture of life and the Gospel. Shackled by the guilt of expectations that aren’t even biblical, our joy slips away from us.

That’s why we need books like Lies Moms Believe.

When we untangle the roots of our guilt, evaluate our expectations in light of the Bible, and let that which is not a moral issue go, we find ourselves walking in the freedom of the Gospel.

family walk

Why I Love This Book

  • Rebekah, the author, does not shy away from addressing BOTH extremes on any given issue. For example, she tackles both the idea that motherhood is not important, as well as the idea that motherhood is a woman’s ultimate calling. Both of those ideas are unbiblical. Her chapters on the value of motherhood really made me ponder my own subconscious assumptions about how things should be.

When we say that motherhood is a woman’s highest calling, what we are essentially saying is that all the childless women out there are ‘less-than.’ The implication is that they have not ‘arrived,’ yet, are not living up to the purpose God has for their lives, and must be of little use to His Kingdom, for they are not living out the ‘highest calling’ for a woman’s life. This is a tragic mistake, not to mention a very hurtful sentiment for women everywhere who may be barren, single, or struggling with miscarriage. – Rebekah Hargraves

Unfortunately, this attitude is all too common. I’ve personally heard people say that they feel as if they can’t really contribute to the church unless they have children. This should not be! There is room for all of us at the house of the Lord.

Rebekah also discusses how the discipleship that a mother provides is of great eternal significance. She handles these issues with grace and truth.

  • There are no perfect moms – and that’s a GOOD thing.

Particularly among mothers of unborn and newborn babies, there is this idea that motherhood is supposed to be “empowering.”

I disagree with that. Parenting my boys has brought me to the end of myself repeatedly, and that’s a good thing.

If I could do this on my own, I would forget how much I need Jesus.

I am frustrated by messes. One day I was feeling particularly annoyed with picking up the same items and returning them to their proper places a million times.

Lord, I prayed under my breath, I think we both need to reset our attitudes this morning. Using the podcasts app on my phone, I turned on a sermon to help me to refocus.

We’re all going to fail our kids in one way or another. We’re sinful human beings. As the author puts it:

…it’s a good thing that we aren’t perfect moms because we are able to tangibly embody for our children the vast need we all have for Christ ans His work on the cross. – Rebekah Hargraves

  • Having children doesn’t ruin marriages. 


I could write a whole post on this topic. Perhaps someday I will. Like the author of Lies Moms Believe, my first child was born when I’d been married for 10 months. I have very little experience with being married but not having children yet. Despite all the negativity I heard about that when I was pregnant, we actually still really enjoy being married.

It is a lie to say that in general children ruin marriages. They don’t. Having children can make a marriage more beautiful, richer, more purposeful, and more intimate as husband and wife now have a tangible, visual, walking-and-talking, living reminder every day of the love they share. But I must warn you again – this lie can prove true in your marriage if you allow it to. It’s all up to you. – Rebekah Hargraves

It takes more effort to spend intentional time with your husband, once you have children, but it’s not impossible. Making that effort is absolutely worth it. Remember that it’s actually a positive thing for your children if your marriage is stable.

While these are just some of my key takeaways from Lies Moms Believe, there are many more lessons to be gleaned. At over a hundred pages, Lies Moms Believe is not a fluffy ebook. As I finished my reading, I thought of the old hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.

When we focus on what really matters, those other worries? They just don’t matter. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Lies Moms Believe can be purchased directly from the author or on Amazon.

When Mommy Guilt Comes Calling

mommy guilt

This post contains affiliate links. For my full disclosure, click here.

What would you say if I told you that, as Christian moms, we can be free from mommy guilt once and for all? Would you believe me? This may seem like wishful thinking if mommy guilt is something you struggle with on a daily basis. In truth, however, it is not wishful thinking for a daughter of God – if she has a Biblical understanding of the truth of the Gospel and its full implications.

The answer to our mommy guilt problem is not found in reading more self-help books. It is not found in implementing into our lives more Pinterest-inspired craft times, organic meals, and elaborate birthday parties. It is not found in, through our own strength, “trying harder” to be good moms. Rather, the answer to our problem of pervasive mommy guilt is found in right theology. It all comes down to whether or not we are taking every thought captive to the truth of God’s Word. It all comes down to our realizing once and for all that the good news of the Gospel does not merely affect our eternity, but our everyday lives, as well.

What does this look like, though, practically speaking? When mommy guilt comes a-calling, what are we to do? How can the Gospel actually impact our feelings of mommy guilt on a daily basis? To answer these questions, what follows is a list of 5 things we should do when we find ourselves experiencing mommy guilt.

5 Things to Do When Mommy Guilt Comes Calling

Understand your position and identity in Christ. 

This is positively crucial (which is precisely why it’s #1 in the list of things we must do if we are going to combat mommy guilt). The good news of the Gospel is relevant and applicable even to the mommy guilt issue because if we are in Christ, we are forever free from guilt and shame. At the moment of salvation, our sin is forever removed as far from us as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), in its place is imputed the very righteousness of Christ Himself, and thus when God looks at us, He now sees nothing but perfection and holiness. He sees Christ and what He accomplished on our behalf. This is why Paul is able to then say in Romans 8:1 that “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (emphasis mine)” Your position, your standing before God, your very identity itself is now based in what Christ did for you and His righteousness that is now your own. Your identity and worth as a mom are not based on what you do, but in Whose you are. They are not based on what you do, but on what Christ did. Therefore, when you understand the full implications of this truth, you can shed the burden of mommy guilt once and for all, understanding that when God looks at you, He does not see a guilty person. He sees a redeemed saint in Christ. Knowing how God looks at you is essential for being freed from the burden of mommy guilt.

Glean your standards from the Word (and let other things go!). 

A big problem with the onslaught of mommy guilt in our day is that it typically isn’t even based on a failure to live up to what are actual standards of God (e.g. training up your children in the way they should go, loving your children, etc.). Much of the mommy guilt we experience results from our believing we have not lived up to what are actual mere standards of man – our failure to sit on the floor and play for an hour with our kids every day, our failure to throw the most creative birthday party imaginable, our failure to cook all-organic meals for our children, our failure to make homemade play dough, and the list goes on. Hear me when I say, mama: the Lord is far more interested in us following His call to train up the next generation in the truth of His Word than He is whether or not we do crafts with our children today. He is more concerned with our motherhood being Bible-inspired than He is Pinterest-inspired. It’s not that those other endeavors aren’t worthwhile, fun, or great for making memories – they are! But if the mommy guilt we are experiencing is a result of our not doing something social media is telling us we have to do, we need to let that go. Social media is not God, and we need to stop giving it His place in our lives.

Know the difference between conviction and guilt/condemnation.

 In all this encouraging talk of the reality of our position in Christ as being forever free, redeemed, forgiven, and made new, we need to not become wishy-washy with what are true Biblical standards, throwing all caution to the wind, and never feeling remorse when we do things which are legitimately wrong. However, there is a big difference between guilt (and condemnation, which are both from Satan and should have no hold over believers) and true conviction (which is from the Holy Spirit and designed to grow and sanctify us). How can we know if the “mommy guilt” we are experiencing is truly guilt and condemnation and should be rejected, or if it is conviction from the Holy Spirit and should be heeded? The difference is two-fold: 1) True conviction is based on actual Biblical standards – not on man-made ideals or expectations and 2) True conviction always makes you want to go to the Lord, not run from Him. Which brings us to the 4th thing to do when experiencing mommy guilt, and that is:

Go to the Lord. 

One of the reasons Satan works overtime in an effort to enslave us in bondage to mommy guilt is because he knows our tendency is to run from God when experiencing feelings of shame. We see this all the way back in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve hid from God after they sinned. Rather than hiding in shame, however, our God wants us to come to Him when we are feeling guilt (even if it is over one of those man-made standards which actually are not even sin issues). We serve a God who is all about restoration, reconciliation, and relationship. Any time we feel guilt or shame over actual sin (or even just a failure to live up to our own expectations as moms!), our Heavenly Father wants us to come to Him. He loves us with an everlasting love and views us as His children whom He simply wants to welcome back with open arms. If mommy guilt comes calling, go to the Lord! Don’t hide. Fear, shame, guilt, and condemnation are not conductive to close fellowship and intimacy with the Father.

Keep your eyes fixed on eternity. 

When we as moms keep our eyes focused on the temporal here-and-now cares of this world, we tend to walk in shame, regret, fear, and hopelessness. When we keep our eyes fixed on the Lord, however, and on the eternity He is preparing in Heaven for us, we can walk in joy, peace, and newness of life. When we refuse to fall prey to the snare of mommy guilt, instead focusing on our position before God in Christ, we become powerful witnesses to the watching world. When we refuse to fall prey to the expectations of man and do not give in to the “martyr complex” taken on by many a mom these days, instead choosing to live out the kind of abundant life Christ has provided for us, we stop the watching world in its tracks and cause people to wonder after the reason for the hope they see within us. Intentionally letting go of the mommy guilt each time it attempts to take hold will have a far-reaching impact for Christ on both our fellow Christian mamas as well as on the world at large.

To Sum it All Up

As I write about extensively in Lies Moms Believe (And How the Gospel Refutes Them), I wholeheartedly believe that the good news of God’s Word is not merely good news for our eternity. It is good news for our here and now, as well, applicable and relevant to each and every struggle we will ever face as moms (not the least of which is the struggle of mommy guilt!). But in order for this to be the case, sweet sister, we have to actually know the Word. And we have to close our ears to the lies of Satan, directly fighting them with that Word.

The solution for finally combating mommy guilt is the Gospel – not self-help books, not becoming more of a Pinterest mom, not following every blogger or parenting expert and what they say to do.  The solution is found in following in the footsteps of Christ and understanding what our position is in Him. This is what will ultimately put an end to mommy guilt.

So look to Him, dear mama, and therein find the freedom you seek. For, as Paul wrote in Galatians 5:1, we must “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”

Rebekah Hargraves is a wife, mama of two littles, home business owner, podcaster, and blogger residing in TN. Her passion is to bless fellow Christian women through her writings on her website, Hargraves Home and Hearth, which exists to “edify, equip, and encourage women in their journey of Biblical womanhood”. Rebekah’s first book, “Lies Moms Believe (And How the Gospel Refutes Them)”, releases in November. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

 

How to Teach Children about their Identity in Christ

 

I was given a copy of this book for free in exchange for a review. For my full disclosure, click here.

The phrase “finding your identity in Christ” used to annoy me. It sounded like Christianese. If you’ve spent any time in church circles, you know what I mean. “Doing life together” is on up there on the list of cliches too.

Even if the phrasing is awkward, the concept is important. When we know who we are and who God is, the rest of life falls into place. Our worth is not based in our works.

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. – A.W. Tozer

One of the first things your child should know about God is that He loves them.

The love of God is all throughout Scripture. The very hairs of your head are all numbered (Luke 12:7). Not a single sparrow falls to the ground without His knowledge (Luke 12:6).

God loves you so much that He sent His only Son to save you and make a way for you to go to heaven.

Emily Assell of Generation Claimed has recently self-published a board book called “You Are: A Book of Declarations.”

The board book is sturdy and should hold up to years of use. My 17 month old son enjoyed testing it out for me.

Each page has darling illustrations of animals and their babies. The book teaches truths about who God says we are: loved, cherished, able to overcome because of God’s power, and more.

A Bible verse is listed with each declaration.

Emily has graciously provided a copy of the book for a giveaway as well! Click on the link below to enter for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

When You Aren’t June Cleaver

The following post contains affiliate links. For my full disclosure, click here. 

When girls become women and begin managing their own homes, they often have an ideal in mind. This ideal looks something like June Cleaver from the television program Leave it to Beaver. Ever calm, ever organized, and cooking in pearls and high heels. We picture a home that stays clean, nutritious meals that don’t leave the kitchen looking like a tornado passed through, and appliances that don’t break down.

Reality often looks a bit different.

We think that managing a home should be easy. We think we should automatically know what we’re doing.

However, like anything else in life, homemaking is a learned skill. 

I’ve been married for a little over two years now, and in that time I’ve come a long way. Even so, there are areas in which I could improve. (A bathroom cleaning schedule, anyone??)

That’s why this year, I’m investing in myself and my home by participating in the 2017 Homemaking Ministries Online Conference.

The theme is “Find Purpose in Your Home.” That speaks to me. At times, I have struggled with feeling as if my work did not matter. I wrote an entire series on what I’ve learned about why motherhood matters. Shining my sink tends to pale in comparison, unless I remember the people I’m serving. I’m looking forward to being rejuvenated and motivated by this year’s conference!

Sessions I’m Pumped to Attend!

Finding Purpose Through Creating a Haven – Hilary Bernstein – It might just be me, but when I feel like my home is out of control, it doesn’t feel like a peaceful haven any more. I’m interested in hearing how Hilary makes her home feel like a haven!

Training Children to Help at Home – Amy Roberts – Amy Roberts is just the sweetest person! I did an interview for her blog about homeschooling a few months ago. She has nine living children.so I’m sure she has plenty of experience with teaching children how to do things around the house. My 17 month old is at an age where he wants to help, but just isn’t quite able to pull off most tasks. He is quite cute when he takes clothes out of the dryer and hands them to me to fold though. This session should be helpful as I look towards teaching him how to do more things in the future.

Two Baby Steps (But Crucial Ones) Toward Healthier Living – Stacy Myers – I am a firm believer in incremental change, simply because it is more sustainable for most people. Making drastic changes overnight just results in burn out. Stacy is also hilarious! I’m sure her presentation will be engaging as well as informative.

A Heavenly Minded Home – Katie Bennett – Katie is a good example of the meek and quiet spirit that the Bible talks about in 1 Peter 3:1-4. I like how she always ties things back to what ultimately matters in life: serving Jesus wherever we are. I can’t wait to see how she applies this to homemaking!

How Writing the Word Can Strengthen Your Faith – Victoria Osborn – I have a Write the Word journal and honestly have not done much with it yet. I’m hoping this session will get me inspired! I can see how the physical act of writing out verses would help me to keep Scripture in my heart and mind.

Finding Purpose in Your Home – Keynote – Jami Balmet – The conference is over a span of five days. Each day, Jami is going to do a keynote session centered around the theme of Finding Purpose in Your Home.

Details on the Conference

The conference will be live from September 25-29, 2017. However, all of the sessions are recorded and will be available to watch later if you can’t attend live. Buying a conference ticket gives you lifetime access to all 27 sessions. I plan to watch as much as I can live, but realistically, I’ll need to go back and watch some sessions later. I have a toddler. 😉

The conference features 23 different speakers. You may recognize some of these names if you’ve been reading blogs for a while.

If you’re reading this after September 29, it’s not too late to buy a ticket! Since the entire conference is recorded, you can buy tickets even after it’s over and work through the sessions at your own pace.

Tickets can be purchased from the official conference website.