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!

How I Made Over My Morning Routine

morning routine

I’ve never really been a morning person, though I can force myself to be when necessary. I have read that many mothers of young children like to get up early so they can have a time of peace and quiet to do their morning routine. It sounded like a good idea to me, so I tried it for a while.

It does not work for my household.

My toddler is quite talented at going to sleep at the same time every night, but he does not get up at the same time every morning. Unfortunately, that meant that sometimes I would wake up and be five minutes into my project when I heard him stirring and needing me. Once that started happening 75% of the time, I failed to see the point of getting up before him.

Additionally, for the first 30 minutes of my day, I seem to move at the pace of a snail. Actually, perhaps the snail would beat me. I’m more of a hare than a tortoise later in the day. How is that for mixing my metaphors? 😉 For me, 30 minutes spent writing during his nap yields far greater results than 30 minutes spent first thing in the morning.

I’ve battled being anemic for about three years, and I just recently found the right level of iron supplements to keep me functional without side effects. When my anemia is not under control, I’m always exhausted and need to sleep more than a normal person.

I’m glad I tried it, because experimenting is one of the best ways to grow as a person. But what works for some won’t work for all, and that is fine.

What really revolutionized my mornings?

Cooking Breakfast Ahead

I’ve been doing this for the last few weeks, and it makes my life SO MUCH EASIER. I try to keep a stash of meat and other staples in my freezer for dinners, but applying the concept of working ahead for breakfast was a new thing.

I know some people aren’t really interested in eating first thing in the morning, but I wake up hungry. Ideally, I want to eat something reasonably healthy for breakfast too (i.e. not poptarts).

We do not follow Trim Healthy Mama strictly, but we try to focus on whole foods and still use a lot of THM approved recipes. Some of our favorites are listed below.

Blueberry Baked Oatmeal – Briana Thomas – You’re supposed to mix up the ingredients and let them sit in the refrigerator overnight before you bake it, but I’ve never done that and we thought it still tasted fine.

Crustless Quiche – Mrs. Criddle’s Kitchen – I just recently started liking quiche, but I should’ve given it a chance sooner. Quiches can be customized with whatever add-ins you like.

Trim Healthy Mama Pancakes – I have had great success with freezing these!

Volcano Mudslide Muffin – Trim Healthy Mama – I put the dry ingredients in a snack size ziploc bag. In the morning, dump your bag into a mug, add the wet ingredients, and microwave. I made a lot of these right before my son was born, and my husband really enjoyed having them on hand.

All of these have been great additions to our breakfast repertoire.

What do you do to make your mornings easier?

When Things Don’t Go Our Way {Motherhood Matters Series: Part Three}

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when things don't go our way

This is the third part of our Motherhood Matters series, written by Paris of Nourishing a Life in Christ. I felt convicted reading this myself, and I hope it blesses you too! – Laura

Part One: Motherhood and the Gospel

Part Two: Focusing on Truth

Mothers are in a powerful role. To quote Sally Michael, this is a “God given opportunity to influence the next generation to put their trust in God.” We do this through our thoughts, actions and attitudes, which people around us see.

It is understandable that it feels like drudgery to serve your family through the world’s perspective when society tells a woman that  motherhood isn’t her place to be. I have fallen into this trap, which led me to discontentment, bitterness, and condemnation. But this thinking is unbiblical.

God wants our thinking to be of thankfulness. We may be stuck with this “thorn” in our side and struggle with this for the rest of our lives. We trust in God’s sovereignty, and know and preach the Gospel to ourselves and know that He uses these trials for our sanctification because we are His and He loves us. We can learn to love discipline and trials because it only hurts for a moment, Hebrews 12:11 compared to eternity.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. – Hebrews 12:11 ESV

We often struggle to focus on the heavenly kingdom and rather focus on our “suffering” in the here and now. We get side tracked and lose focus. This is called idolatry. Idolatry sounds like an odd topic to bring up, but it does happen because seek to please and love for things or other people rather then our Lord.

I love how one author put it:

“Our primary struggle in raising our children, is not subduing their wills, knowing how to teach them the Bible, or even knowing how to pray for them. Our greatest struggle will be in striving to love and worship God above all else, so that we can overflow in imparting that love to our children. Because our hearts are prone to wander from the Lord, from the Creator to the things He has created– pride, money, possessions, image, children, control, popularity, the praise of men, and so on, we must fight a continual battle to keep our hearts from other idols.” – Sally Michael, Mothers: Disciplers of the Next Generations

From my story in last week’s post, working outside the home and being praised for accomplishment was my idol. It was so very hard to identify this, because my mind said “yes, I want to have children, yes, I like staying home with them, yes, I want to raise them in the discipline and admonition of the Lord.” Yet my heart and desires were truly far from this. On my spare time during naps, I would research how to start a business. Then I would get upset with my children if they woke up early or disrupted my daydreams, and I slowly put researching as a priority above my children. This is how I saw that my desires and motivations were sinful and not God glorifying.

Sanctification Through Fellowship and Discipleship

There is great importance of joining a biblical church body, so that you can be sanctified through learning. To overcome these struggles I benefited from seeking a Titus 2 woman in my church body who I could talk to when I was having sinful desires, who could encourage me when I was faint hearted, who could edify me when I was having a rough day, and who could rebuke me when I was being rebellious in my sin. Praying with other believers is very helpful as well. When I learned to submit myself to be vulnerable to another woman, for the sake of being sanctified and glorifying His name; God used this to change my heart!

So Why Does Motherhood Matter?

Motherhood matters because God has put us in this position to sanctify us and bring us closer to Him. Our purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, and we learn how to do this by reading His word and being committed to following Christ. We do this by doing it right were God has us. I have always had annoyed thoughts that “I can even read His word without being disrupted” or “I can’t be committed to following Christ, because when I try, everyone else throws a wrench in to it… I wish I was a monk!”

God knows this is how are we sanctified. He also uses us as means to spread the Gospel to the very sinners in our home and to raise up a new generation that lives to glorify Him.

Keep the faith fellow Mama, you are God’s ambassador and you are not the only one who has struggles!

Recommended Reading:

The Profile of a Godly Mother by Grace to You

Mothers: Disciplers of the Next Generations by Sally Michael

Missional Motherhood by Gloria Furman

The Hidden Ministry of Motherhood by Liz Wann

About the Author: Hello, my name is Paris Byrum. I am a Christ follower, a wife to a great husband for 8 years and a mama to four littles. I am a lover of all things creative & seek to encourage others to run the race and live a life to glorify God. Come visit me at Nourishing a Life in Christ if you like what you read here. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Easiest Way to Save on Groceries

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

grocery budget

As homemakers, we’re always looking for ways to save on groceries. When it comes to grocery shopping, I’ve concluded that you’re generally making a choice. Either you can spend more money and less stress, or you can spend more stress and less money. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Aldi is a store that people either love or hate, but shopping at Aldi is the best way to reduce your grocery budget if you don’t have time to learn how to coupon or to cook everything from scratch.

Aldi does have its quirks, but they’re manageable.

  • You need to bring your own bags, but you can purchase some at the store if you forget.
  • You need to bring a quarter to get a cart. The quarter releases the cart from the other carts. When you re-attach the cart at the end of your shopping trip, the quarter pops back out. The idea is that the quarter motivates people to return their carts. In turn, Aldi doesn’t have to pay people to retrieve carts from the parking lot. That equals lower prices.
  • Generally, there is only one checkout line going at a time. However, Aldi cashiers move at the speed of light. The product packaging is designed for quick and easy scanning.

PROS:

Aldi has great prices. I keep a price comparison worksheet on my computer. Aldi beats Walmart on the vast majority of items. There are some exceptions, like coconut oil, which I buy at Walmart, but Aldi is overwhelmingly the winner on most items.

The newer stores are clean and inviting. I had a brand new Aldi five minutes away from my apartment when we first got married. It was glorious. As an Aldi customer since age 7, I have to admit that the previous incarnation of their store design wasn’t visually appealing.

Aldi offers more reasonably priced organic and gluten free options. Of course, conventional items are always going to be less expensive than organic, but as far as organic goes, Aldi gives you the most bang for your buck.

It’s easy to get in and out quickly. Aldi doesn’t offer 5 brands of anything. You have regular mac and cheese and organic mac and cheese. Most items are only available in Aldi’s store brand. Because of this, the stores are smaller than other grocery stores. The experience is a stark contrast to the chaos of Walmart.

CONS:

Aldi doesn’t have everything. We typically end up having to stop by Walmart to fill in whatever Aldi doesn’t stock. Usually that’s about 3-5 more specialty items. Our Walmart is close by though, so it’s not too inconvenient.

Older stores that have not been remodeled are less visually appealing. Aldi is able to offer lower prices because they cut the frills elsewhere. Think of Walmart vs. Target. Most people would say that Target offers a more pleasant shopping atmosphere, but their prices reflect that nicer experience. If you’re going to Walmart, you have to put up with the less nice atmosphere.

Aldi has been stepping up their game with this, and the new stores look much more modern. Our local store is getting remodeled, so hopefully it’ll be improving too!

Produce and meat can be hit or miss. We have lived in two cities since we got married nearly two years ago. The Aldi in the first city was brand new. The quality of produce at that one was better than at our Aldi here. I can still find some decent produce here, but it takes more rummaging. The prices make the hassle worth it to me.

For my family, the pros outweigh the cons. After shopping at Aldi for 15 years, the quirks are second nature. I love how they’ve been implementing more healthy products over the last couple of years. It’s great to see that it’s possible to eat more healthy foods without shopping at expensive specialty stores!

If you are interested in saving money on your grocery budget, meal planning can really help! Click the button below to get a 28 day meal plan, complete with shopping lists and a price breakdown.

Focusing on Truth {Motherhood Matters Series: Part Two}

focusing on the truth

Today I am welcoming Paris Byrum of Nourishing a Life in Christ as she shares with us how she learned why motherhood matters. Thanks Paris! If you missed part one, read it here.

I am so happy to join Laura today at Homemaking for His Glory, as we continue the series of Motherhood Matters! Motherhood truly does matter, and I will address how and ultimately why it does in this post. As a mother of 5 children (one in my womb) I did not always feel like my ministry in motherhood mattered. We will start with my viewpoint on motherhood.

How Did These Feelings Start?

Growing up, I was groomed to become a career woman, as that was the only way to be accomplished in this modern world. Every week I visited my college and career counselor, dreaming of my next stage of life.

I got married at the age of 19 and got pregnant right away, (unplanned on our part of course!) and I lost many friends who said I was “throwing my life away”. This was the mindset I had as I entered motherhood. Though my husband was from a large Christian family, and motherhood for women was the norm, it was very foreign to me.

In my first four years of motherhood, I had four children (with no multiples!) so I was fully immersed in something I wasn’t sure was a worthy calling. It took years of heartache, struggle, and sinful desires to come to where I am now in my viewpoint of motherhood. I became bitter and resentful towards my husband and God, because I just wanted to spend time in the business world, where my efforts accomplished something…rather than another load of laundry and diaper changes that are never ending.

When I look back on how I was raised, it is a great reminder that how we talk and influence our children, will be what they take with them into their adult life.

How I Overcame My Struggles and Sinful Desires: Reading God’s Word

Reading God’s Word in the early years was nearly impossible. It was not until I joined a biblical church where I saw the importance of being in His Word more then anything else. If we want change, it can not be external, but rather internal.

Jesus said “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.” Matthew 23:25-26

The concept in this verse is that you can’t change the external and expect the internal to change. Many times I would put on a smile and plunge through my chores and my children, only to be searing inside that I am not working and that my husband did not notice what I accomplished that day. I needed my heart to change, and my works will follow.

God the Holy Spirit, is what causes our hearts to change, and it is prompted by the reading of God’s Word. If we wait until “the spirit moves,” it will never happen. We must be in His Word to experience change:

“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11

His Word will not return void. God has the power to change our hearts and our desires.

Reciting His Promises to Myself and Renewing My Mind

The everyday “mundane” tasks are what God uses to sanctify us. We have a great mission. ”Missional Motherhood” as Gloria Furman coined it, is the perspective that everything we do is for the glory of God’s Kingdom. As a mother, you have the power (through the Holy Spirit) that He bestowed upon you, to disciple your children Deuteronomy 6 style.

Notice that it is through God that you are able to do this; we were created from the beginning to be dependent on our Creator. This is where change begins, knowing that we are dependent on God, and be able to use His word, to renew our minds in our daily living. In a practical sense of how we bring glory to God, in our every day tasks and interactions with our children.

These types of questions are self examining, helping me see what is really on my mind, and also shows my dependence on someone outside of myself:

  • How can we as a family team master this >insert chore< for Gods glory? Colossians 3:23-24
  • Is our speech wholesome and edifying today? Ephesians 4:29
  • What is my purpose today in disciplining my children and it is bringing them to repentance? Hebrews 12:11
  • Did I display or talk to my children about the Gospel today? Matthew 28:19

A note from Laura: Thanks Paris! I know a lot of women can relate to what you shared, especially when motherhood is something that surprises us. Next week, I will be publishing the next part of Paris’ story. 

About the Author: Hello, my name is Paris Byrum. I am a Christ follower, a wife to a great husband for 8 years and a mama to four littles. I am a lover of all things creative & seek to encourage others to run the race and live a life to glorify God. Come visit me at Nourishing a Life in Christ if you like what you read here. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Overcoming Roadblocks to Eating at Home

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eat at home

It’s well established that eating dinner at home is healthier and less expensive, but the process of getting dinner on the table can be a challenge. The hour before dinner is chaotic for a lot of households. There are four common roadblocks to eating at home, but they can all be overcome with a bit of planning.

Roadblock #1: Lack of Time

I was a full time homemaker for a few months before my son was born, due to a variety of unusual circumstances. I took advantage of that time to learn how to cook. During that season, I had time to make more elaborate meals. There’s nothing wrong with that, but now I need to streamline my cooking process. If I tried to do what I used to do right now, I’d probably give up on cooking altogether. Adjust your expectations to fit your circumstances.

One pot meals save time on prep as well as on cleaning. Search Pinterest to find a gold mine of 30 minute meals! You may also want to keep a stash of food in your freezer that can be heated up quickly. This Southwest Roll Ups recipe is a good homemade convenience food.

I keep a pack of frozen tilapia fillets on hand. When I don’t have much time to cook, I put them on my George Foreman grill, sprinkle them with some lemon pepper seasoning, and let them cook through. I usually serve them with canned green beans. Even if I haven’t remembered to thaw the tilapia, it still only takes about 15 minutes.

Roadblock #2: Lack of Energy

A lack of energy can be for any number of reasons. Maybe you have a child who doesn’t sleep through the night. Maybe your child is sick. Maybe you’re expecting. Maybe you’re anemic or have some other health condition. Whatever the cause, a lack of energy can mean that you feel completely wiped out by the evening.

This is not the time to get fancy with meals. I use my crockpot a lot when I don’t have much energy, but I’ve also heard great things about the Instant Pot.

You may also find that a rice cooker is worth the investment. I have a basic model from a special buy at Aldi, but it gets the job done. Instant brown rice is even easier, doesn’t require a special appliance, and it doesn’t spike your blood sugar like instant white rice does.

Give yourself grace! I’m so thankful for modern appliances!

Roadblock #3: Lack of Ingredients

If I don’t have the right ingredients to make something, it’s usually because I fell off the wagon with meal planning. Either I have to figure out a substitution, or I have to make a last minute trip to the store. Either of those options is stressful for me. (I know some ladies are pros at making substitutions though!) In my experience, extra trips to the store tend to end with me spending too much money.

When I had a young baby, I only wrote down dinners. Just doing that helped a lot with making sure we had the right supplies.

Roadblock #4: Colicky Babies or Cranky Children

I am a colic survivor. If you have a child who had colic, you know that survivor is the proper term. 😉 My baby screamed every night from 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Cooking was not going to happen.

My freezer was pretty well stocked when he was born, but we did eventually run out of meals before the colic ended. Every Saturday, I made a new set of crockpot meals in gallon ziploc bags and froze them. My husband would try his best to keep the baby calm, but I typically stopped to nurse once or twice over the course of the project. I would pull out a new bag to thaw each day. Every morning, I dumped one of the bags into the crockpot. I even used those crockpot liners sometimes…shh.

Sometimes older children are just cranky. I try to give my toddler a snack in the afternoon, which seems to help him stay calm until dinner. You might decide that your cooking time is when your kids get to watch an episode of Veggie Tales. No shame!

What do you do to make cooking at home easier?

Motherhood and the Gospel {Motherhood Matters Series: Part One}

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

motherhood and the gospel

On Mondays during the month of May, I’m going to be running a series called Motherhood Matters. This is a topic that has been weighing on my heart for a long time. I hope you are encouraged by what you read here. 

Some of us plan to be mothers for a long time before it actually happens, and some of us are (quite literally) surprised by motherhood. I was in the second category.

In the space of a year, I graduated from college, got married, moved to a new city, found out I was pregnant, had a baby, and had surgery immediately after having a baby. Whew.

As I began my mothering journey, I noticed many women struggle with some of the same things that I did.

I just feel like I’m not doing anything important. I don’t feel valued. I miss being rewarded for my work.

Lets be completely honest here: I don’t think anyone changes poop diapers and thinks “YES! This is my calling! I have found it! This is IT!” We change them because we love the person, and we can see why it’s necessary.

At its core, motherhood is a series of self-sacrificial choices. It starts right from the point of conception and continues from there. In a culture that emphasizes self-worship, this is not something that’s really supported.

I’ve found that in my own life, I become discouraged when I lose sight of why I’m doing what I’m doing. Theology is a word that causes some to grimace, but it’s so needed.

Theology sounds boring, but it’s really just studying the truth of God’s word. When I meditate on the truth, I find myself being renewed and encouraged.

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. – Genesis 1:27

Because I am created in God’s image, I have dignity and worth. My value is not based in the number of children I have, whether or not I work outside of the home, or any other earthly characteristic. Since all other humans are also created in the image of God, they deserve to be treated with respect.

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate. – Psalm 127:3-5

My son is a blessing from God!

For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. – 1 Timothy 6:7

The only thing that will matter in eternity is the condition of one’s soul. My biggest responsibility as a parent is to teach my child about God.

Remembering these things are true helps me to stay motivated in my work. I know that they’re true…because of theology!

I’ve read many articles about why motherhood matters. Unfortunately, many of them reach the conclusion that motherhood is important…because it just is. My soul craved a deeper answer to the question.

The book Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full by Gloria Furman was a recommendation from Jami Balmet, another blogger. This is the only book I have ever read on Kindle and then decided to purchase in paperback form. It radically transformed my mothering.

To quote Gloria Furman herself, “Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full is not a to-do list on how to be a good mother. It’s about our good God and what He has done.”

When we focus on the greater picture of the Gospel, the parenting decisions that once seemed so important become less stressful. It ultimately does not matter if I used disposable diapers or cloth diapers. It matters that I pray for my son and that I teach him about God. Coming to this realization brings freedom.

We need to have eyes to see a view of God that is so big and so glorious that it transforms our perspective of motherhood. In the context of eternity, where Christ is doing his work of reigning over the cosmos, we need to see our mundane moments for what they really are – worship. – Gloria Furman, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full

Have you ever struggled with feeling as if your work didn’t matter? What helped you when you felt that way?