Category: motherhood

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. 

How to Try Cloth Diapers (When You Aren’t So Sure about That!)

get started with cloth diapers

Previously, I wrote about why I chose to switch to cloth diapers, after years of being adamantly against the idea. If you haven’t already, you can read that post here. 

I firmly believe that cloth diapers are not for everyone, but they can be great for some people. But how do you know if you would love them or hate them?

The best way is to try!

Buying New Diapers

First, you need to decide if you feel comfortable with used cloth diapers or not. If you don’t, then you’ll probably want to order a sampler kit from one of the various cloth diaper websites.

Nicki’s Diapers offers a 15 day wash and return program. You can find the full details here. Nicki’s Diapers is a great place to order brand new diapers. They offer free shipping with a minimum purchase of $10. If you’re on a budget and need to accumulate your diapers slowly, that low free shipping threshold is helpful!

If I were starting completely from scratch, I would get the Nicki’s Cloth Diapering 101 Starter Kit. It provides you with examples of several types of cloth diapers.

Some other options include the prefold diaper trial package or the one size cloth diaper trial package, both from Diaper Junction. 

As you can see, these options can be expensive. I decided to go the used route for that reason.

Buying Used Diapers

Buying used is a totally valid option. Just make sure you bleach soak them first! Fluff Love University provides thorough instructions for bleach soaking. 

You can find used diapers at some children’s consignment sales, on sites like eBay or Craigslist, or in Facebook Buy/Sell/Trade groups.

We have a ton of children’s consignment sales in my area. It’s awesome. 🙂 I bought 12 cloth diapers and a large wet bag for $25. This was enough to justify a load of laundry, but not enough for me to feel as if I had wasted a lot of money if I decided not to stick with it.

I bought several different brands, since I wasn’t sure what would work best for my little boy. I had previously tried to determine from the internet what brand and type of cloth diaper is best. This is roughly as useful as trying to figure out from the internet what homeschool curriculum to buy. It depends on too many factors.

  • It depends on you.
  • It depends on your kid.
  • It depends on what your motivation is.
  • It depends on your philosophy.
  • It depends on if you have a long and skinny baby or a short and chunky one.

I highly recommend trying different things yourself so you can learn what works on YOUR specific child!

The Great Cloth Diaper Experiment of 2017

After I had thoroughly sanitized the diapers, we began The Great Cloth Diaper Experiment of 2017.

Our first hurdle was seeing if my husband would still be willing to change cloth diapers. Quite frankly, my husband changed a LOT of diapers in the 15 months prior to this experiment. If using cloth meant losing my help, that was a deal breaker for me. I’m just being completely honest here. 😉 For this reason, I only bought all-in-one or pocket diapers. Putting those on and taking them off is simple and very similar to using disposables.

My husband was cool with the switch, as long as he didn’t have to dump poop in the toilet. I handled that part. (Toddler poop is actually pretty simple. Just plop it into the toilet and flush).

We are currently sticking with disposables for overnight and for when he goes to nursery at church. I haven’t found changing them while we’re out and about to be a problem, so I do that if I’m going to be with him. I have a travel sized wet bag that I keep in my son’s bag. I might try using cloth diapers overnight at some point, but I haven’t so far.

After a week or two of this, we determined which brand worked the best. We like the Kawaii pocket diapers. They’re reasonably priced, even if you buy them brand new.

Would I recommend this for everyone? 

No. If you hate laundry, cloth diapers are going to drive you insane. I think I would personally be overwhelmed if I attempted to cloth diaper and work outside the home full time simultaneously, though there are people who can pull it off!

In my opinion, the most important factor to cloth diapering success is having easy access to a washer and dryer. It’s theoretically possible to cloth diaper and do the laundry at a laundromat, but it would be much more work.

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

You certainly can cloth diaper from birth and use only cloth at all times until your child potty trains. However, you can also choose to use cloth part-time. Many people who usually cloth diaper 24/7 will use disposables while they travel. Cloth diapering only during the day is also an option. Some people like to use cloth at home and disposables while out and about.

Cloth diapers generally come in two sizes: newborn and one size. “One size” is not truly one-size-fits-all, and usually doesn’t fit  babies until they weigh about 12 lbs. Most babies don’t fit in newborn cloth diapers long enough for it to be cost effective. If you are using cloth for environmental or health reasons, it might still be worth it to you. Alternatively, you can use disposables until your baby is large enough for one size diapers.

Remember that even part-time use will save you money. 🙂 Happy diapering!

A 100% Honest Look at Cloth Diapers

cloth diapers for beginners

My mother used cloth diapers on me, my brothers, and my sister. When my brothers and I were in diapers, she used prefolds with those plastic pants and diaper pins. By the time my sister was born, we lived in a place where there wasn’t a cloth diaper service, so she had various types of modern cloth diapers.

My 13 year old self was thoroughly amused at the brand names. Bum Genius. Fuzzibunz. Happy Heiny. Hilarious. 

My Relationship with Disposable Diapers

Later in life, when I was pregnant with my son, I was absolutely adamant that I was NOT going to cloth diaper.

  • I found the idea of potentially poking the baby with a diaper pin stressful.
  • Our washing machine came with the apartment we rented and wasn’t truly mine, so I was completely uncomfortable with the idea of poop going into it.
  • I also knew that we were going to move at least once, but possibly as many as three times, while my son would be in diapers. During the course of the first move, my son would be three months old and we would be temporarily living in a hotel.
  • It was just too much stress.

I don’t really regret that decision. I couponed an enormous stash of disposable diapers. I generally paid only 60%-70% of the regular retail price. That was enough money saving for me. If you’re interested in going that route, I would suggest checking out The Krazy Coupon Lady.

Why Did I Switch?

I am expecting my second baby in February, which means that I’ll have two kids under two and…two in diapers. 

Upon this revelation, I decided to rethink my diapering approach. I ultimately decided to make the switch to cloth for various reasons.

Couponing required buying 4-5 boxes of diapers at a time when the price was right. For two kids, I would need to buy 8-10 boxes at a time. When I was pregnant with my son, I had considerably more storage space than I do now. Currently, I have nowhere to store that many diapers until they’re needed.

I feel uncomfortable supporting a certain business now. I bought the majority of my disposables at a certain store. In the time since I did my stockpiling, they have implemented some policies that make me uncomfortable. I try to avoid shopping there when possible. Even though couponed diapers are significantly cheaper, buying my diapers there would still cause a sizable sum to be going to this company. No matter how you do it, diapering two children is going to be expensive.

I really highly doubt that my firstborn will be early to potty train. I have heard of kids who have it down at 18 months. I completely believe that they exist. I also believe that it’s pretty unlikely that my kid will be one of them. It’s just not how he rolls.

For me, these reasons were enough to make the switch.

Would I Recommend Cloth Diapers?

Maybe. It depends on a lot of factors.

Do you have laundry under control? In my experience, adding in diaper laundry is not particularly difficult IF you already have a good handle on laundry in general. I don’t like to let my diapers sit for more than 3 days before being washed. I previously wrote about how I got my own laundry under control.

Are you grossed out by poop? The level of grossness involved here varies based on the age and diet of the baby. My toddler’s poop can be plopped into the toilet easily, but a younger baby’s poop takes more work. Dealing with poop is part of parenting, but some people don’t want to deal with it more than is absolutely necessary. I completely understand that. If you’re in that camp, cloth diapers probably aren’t for you.

Do you aspire to be crunchy? I am what I like to call “accidentally crunchy.” I didn’t set out to be this way, but sometimes “crunchy” things just work well for me and I go with it. Some moms are attracted to cloth diapers because of the environmental benefits, or because they prefer to have natural materials on their baby’s skin.

Do you have a child with sensitive skin? Some babies cannot tolerate any brand of disposable diaper and need to be in cloth for health reasons. In that case, cloth is a great thing.

I personally don’t believe that cloth diapers are for everyone. However, they can be a great option! Next week I plan to share more about the most inexpensive way to try out cloth diapers.

Motherhood in Light of Eternity {Motherhood Matters Series: Part Five}

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

motherhood in light of eternity

This is the final installment of the Motherhood Matters series.

Part One: Motherhood and the Gospel

Part Two: Focusing on Truth

Part Three: When Things Don’t Go Our Way

Part Four: Finding Your Value as a Person

I awoke to my cheerful alarm, grabbed my computer and my coffee, and sat down to write. As soon as I opened my browser, I heard my baby.

“MAMAAAAAAA!” he shrieked in his distinctive 10 month old voice.

Maybe he’ll go back to sleep, I thought. He usually sleeps more than an hour later than this.

Nope. After a few attempts at soothing, I saw the futility of my efforts and recognized that he was indeed up for the day. I had hoped to write an entire blog post. I hadn’t written a single word.

Such incidents happen regularly around my home. On the day that this particular episode happened, he also refused to nap when it was nap time.  I confess that sometimes I don’t think joyful thoughts when things don’t go as planned. A lot of women struggle with feeling as if their work doesn’t matter. Personally, I have a hard time with the fact that I do the exact same things over and over, and they never stay done. There is always another diaper or another dish.

The feeling of monotony leads to a feeling of futility or worthlessness. By its very nature, staying home with a baby is isolating. I’m blessed to have a mom friend who I text often. She lives in another state, but she understands what I tell her.

I recently heard a friend say that she feels like mothering just isn’t enough. I think we all relate to that at some point, whether we admit it to others or not. Moms get tired!

How shall then shall we stay motivated? How do we focus on what matters when it seems impossible?

As I was doing housework one day, a phrase popped into my mind: Motherhood in light of eternity.

What does that mean? It means focusing on the end of the story. Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said “Begin with the end in mind.” His quote is generally used in a business context, but it applies to mothering as well.

The fact of the matter is this: the only thing that I will take into eternity is my family, if they are saved. Each moment with my son is an opportunity for discipleship. When I read his story Bible to him, I’m planting the seeds of knowledge about God. When I pick up a Cheerio off of the floor for the millionth time, I’m showing him love. When I pray over him after I put him in his crib for the night, I’m asking God to show me how to parent him (believe me, I need the help).

I did some cool things before I entered the season of marriage and motherhood. I was ranked second in speaker points at a national debate tournament. I interned in Washington, DC. I graduated summa cum laude from college. I worked at a job that I loved. I’m proud of these things and the effort that went into them, and that isn’t inherently bad. As cool as they are though, they do not matter as much as the soul I’m shaping now.

I want my son to follow God, even when it’s scary. I want my son to be in a Scripture saturated home. I want my son to remember a mom who was filled with joy, even in the midst of the mundane.

And that is what ultimately matters.

but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. – Joshua 24:15b KJV

I’m linking up to Salt & Light. 

Finding Your Value as a Person Through Motherhood

A note from Laura: This post was originally written for Chaotic Life of Lauren, which is a blog whose mission is to help busy Christian mothers manage life. Lauren ran a series entitled “Seasons of Motherhood” this month, and I was honored to be included, along with several other bloggers. Motherhood remains the most refining and sanctifying experience of my life, and I thank God for it! I hope this encourages any other type A moms out there, as well as moms who struggle with physical challenges. These things are difficult, but you are not alone.   

My best friend used to lovingly tease me about my perfect planners. I had a plan for everything: when I would eat, when I would study, when I would socialize, when I would do ministry. I carefully crossed off each task and appointment as I completed it. My life was completely under control. I counted down the days until my wedding and smiled to myself as I thought about all the fun things my husband and I would do together.

I liked to say I was a planner, but I was really just a control freak.

And then, six weeks after my wedding, I found out a baby was on the way. Surprise!

Being pregnant threw me for a loop. I was used to being able to accomplish a lot of tasks in a day, but that didn’t happen any more when my “first trimester” nausea and exhaustion lasted through all three trimesters. Occasionally I would have a good day. I would get really excited and try to do as many things as possible, but then the exhaustion would catch up with me and I would be worse than ever.

While I would have never admitted it before, I had been placing a lot of my identity and sense of value in my productivity.

Please visit Chaotic Life of Lauren to read the rest of this post!