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}

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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?

Is the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle Really Worth It?

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ultimate homemaking bundle

The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is a collection of 106 ebooks and ecourses on creativity, faith, finances, home decor, cooking and meal planning, intentional living, marriage, motherhood, organizing and systems, recipes, self-care, and work-life balance.

Laura, you might be thinking, I am already overwhelmed just looking at that sentence.

I understand the feeling, and I was once a bundle skeptic myself. The key here is to not even attempt to use everything. Personally, I have no interest in some of the resources. Even so, it only takes using 3 or 4 ebooks or ecourses to start saving money.

Even better, there are 9 resources in the bundle that cost more than the bundle itself, so if you only used ONE of those, you would be saving money!

Today I’m going to walk you through what I’m really excited about in this bundle.

A Mom’s Guide to Better Photos: A Beginning Photography Class for Moms With Any Type of Camera (Normally $99.00)

I’m not a professional photographer, nor do I aspire to become one. I do have a cute (in my 100% biased opinion) little boy, and I do like taking pictures of him. Meg’s course is designed for people like me. Even if all you have is a smartphone, your photography skills will improve with this course. I’m really enjoying it!

Keep in mind that the entire Ultimate Homemaking Bundle costs $29.97. When you purchase it, you get this course, which is a $99 value, AND 105 other products!

Foundational 5+ Workout Course (Normally $19.95)

I was so excited to find this as a part of the bundle! While I lost my baby weight pretty quickly, having a 9 lb. baby took a toll on my stomach muscles. The Foundational 5+ course is designed to help women who have had children to strengthen their core. It’s great for women who have diastasis recti, which is a common condition where the muscles separate during pregnancy and do not go back together completely afterwards. I have a small diastasis myself, and it’s something that I’d like to work on healing. The workouts are short and efficient for busy moms!

FREE Meal Plans and Shopping Lists

One of the bonuses that you receive along with your bundle is a free one year membership to MollyGreen.com, which is a $29 value. I had never heard of MollyGreen.com until a few days ago, but I found a fun surprise as I was looking around the membership site.

When you go to the member home page after logging in, scroll down and click on “Build a Menu.” You can sign up to get a free meal plan with recipes and a shopping list delivered straight to your email. You will automatically be sent one every week for SEVEN weeks.

Since this is intended to just be a sample, you don’t have as many options as you do with a full paid Build a Menu membership, but it gives you a good idea if a meal planning service is right for you. You could even save the meal plans and shopping lists and use them later when you’re having a crazy week. The sample meal plans are in the “Dine on a Dime” category, though a paid Build a Menu membership offers options for people who eat Trim Healthy Mama, gluten free, paleo, allergy friendly, and more.

I’m so excited to use my free meal plans! As I’ve written before, I love meal planning, and this will make it that much easier. This would normally cost around $7.00

You might not be interested in all of the products in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. That’s totally okay. To be 100% honest, I’m not either.

But even if I only ever use these three things that I’ve mentioned, products that I absolutely LOVE: the bundle will have been worth it.

Adding up the photography class, the workout class, and the free meal plans, it would normally cost approximately $125.95.

The bundle is $29.97, and I also have access to 103 other awesome resources. That’s a $95.98 savings…even if I never touch any of the other products.

You might be thinking that there has to be a catch to this. How can this possibly be that great of a deal?

The key is that this bundle is only available for six days, from April 26 – May 1, 2017. After that, it will be gone forever. Each year’s bundle has totally different products. Click on the button below to view the full list of what’s included!

The Power of Homemaking Habits

cleaning habits

When I was first married, I was overwhelmed by keeping my home. Of course, the fact that I was pregnant and sick and operating with about half of my usual energy wasn’t helping, but I also had no routine.

I was operating under the incorrect idea that the key was to get things clean Once and For All. Unfortunately, that’s not how it actually works. People who have clean houses work at it, and they do boring tasks over and over. There is no way to escape this fact. Sadness.

The benefit of habits though, is that eventually they become second nature and you don’t have to actively think about them as much. I’ve reached this point with some household tasks, but definitely not all.

My husband and I will be celebrating our second anniversary this summer. I finally feel as if I have some level of control over my house. This is in large part due to some homemaking habits that I have established.

I always have a cardboard box for Goodwill donations. Always. No exceptions. I used to think that decluttering was the kind of thing where you went through your house and got rid of stuff every few months. What I’ve learned is that I’m constantly finding something else that needs to go to Goodwill. Alternatively, I’m always finding that my toddler has outgrown yet another article of clothing that needs to be packed away in a storage bin. We get sales flyers and junk mail all the time, and those have to be sorted, examined, and then tossed. The key is to deal with the clutter immediately.

The dishwasher is run once a day…about 90% of the time. I’m still working on this. Sometimes I try to justify not starting the dishwasher because there MIGHT be room for one more fork…but that’s really just procrastination. I need to stop that.

I load the washing machine every morning. I don’t actually do a load of laundry every single day, because we only have three people in our household and we don’t generate enough laundry to need to do it daily. However, the act of gathering the laundry and putting it in the washer allows me to stay on top of it. When laundry is piling up and making the hampers overflow, I get stressed. Stressed is not good.

I make my bed every day. It just makes the bedroom look nicer, and it doesn’t take long.

I make sure the bathroom counters are clear each morning. Not everyone does this, but it drives me crazy if there is makeup, shaving cream, razors, toothpaste, or anything else of that nature piled all over the bathroom counter.

My deep cleaning skills still need some work, but implementing these five tasks into my routines has improved the appearance of my home!

What cleaning tasks do you do every day?

Why I Quit Pinterest

why i deleted pinterest

When I was 18, I quit Pinterest.

Pinterest is not inherently good or bad. It’s a tool. However, my Pinterest use was getting out of control and causing me to sin. At the time, I was newly single. Like many 18 year old girls, I had a wedding board on Pinterest. I saved pictures of wedding gowns, reception decorations, and flower arrangements.

When I became single, I didn’t think I would ever get married. I spent a lot of time moping about being “forever alone” before I realized that seeing pretty pictures of wedding ideas on Pinterest was only adding fuel to the fire.

Matthew 5:29-30 says “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell” (NASB).

Pretty harsh, right? In context, Jesus was talking about lust. Pinterest wasn’t causing lust in that sense of the term. However, both discontentment and lust are rooted in the same cause: wanting something that you cannot have.

I wanted a pretty wedding, a dress with a full skirt, and a handsome man who loved me. Desiring to be married wasn’t wrong, but focusing on it at the expense of other beneficial things wasn’t good.

After some consideration, I ultimately decided that I couldn’t handle Pinterest at that time. I deleted my account and said goodbye. I did not touch the site again for a long time.

I ended up getting a Pinterest account again a couple of years later when I was engaged. At that point, I was searching for things that I could use right then, not for things that were off in the distant future somewhere. Since I was using it that way, it was a healthy thing. After I was married, I found a lot of helpful recipes and meal planning ideas by using Pinterest.

Even now, I sometimes take a step back from Pinterest. Occasionally, I’ll browse through my feed, only to find titles along the lines of “How to Make Your Child a Complete Genius Who Speaks Three Languages and Only Eats Organic Vegetables” or “How to Look Like You Have Never Had a Baby Before.” I made those titles up, but I’m sure you can envision what I mean.There are lots of things on the internet that have the underlying message “you are not enough, and here’s what you need to do more and be more and be better.”  It’s easy to get overwhelmed by an onslaught of that sort of information.

Maybe you don’t struggle with a certain website, but you struggle with discontentment in other ways. I think through these three questions when I evaluate if something needs to stay in my life or not.

Is this causing me to ignore the responsibilities of the present and excessively daydream about the future?

Am I striving for more when I ought to just be still? (Psalm 46:10)

Is this causing me to sin?

Have you ever eliminated a type of social media from your life, either for a season or permanently?

How to Give Thoughtful Gifts on a Budget

gifts on a budget

Being frugal does not mean being stingy. God has called us to be good stewards, but He has also called us to be generous.

I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  – Acts 20:35

Sometimes it can be a fine line between being frugal and just being cheap. I strive to stay in the former category. Thus, I’ve learned how to give thoughtful gifts on a budget. These are gifts that the recipient can actually enjoy and use, but that can also be purchased for reasonable prices.

 

The best way to give nice gifts while also being frugal is by shopping for gifts throughout the year.

I learned this from my mom when I was young. She always had a stash of Bath & Body Works lotions, Chapstick, toys, candles, and a variety of other gift items. We mainly used the gift stash for teacher gifts, but the concept can be expanded to gifts for family members and friends as well.

Last Christmas, I started shopping for presents in early September. By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, I was already finished! When I accompanied some friends as they shopped about a week before Christmas, I was thankful to have mostly avoided the craziness that is retail during the month of December.

I highly recommend signing up for emails from Money Saving Mom. She is a coupon and frugal living blogger. The thing that I like best about her email list is that you can choose to receive coupon match-ups only for your favorite stores.

In addition to standard coupon match-ups for grocery stores, the Money Saving Mom emails often contain deals for free photo books, inexpensive clothing, toys, and much more. By watching these emails for several months before Christmas, you can save a great deal of cash. When I got married, I had several relatives request printed wedding pictures for Christmas. I could afford to get photo books made for 4 relatives, as well as a nice photo book to keep for myself.

Another way to give thoughtful and frugal gifts is by giving something handmade.

Not everyone is a DIY person, so this tip is less universal. I’ve been knitting for 10 years, so I’ve been known to make Christmas gifts during years when my budget was tight. When one of my brothers was in 6th grade, I found some camo print yarn and knitted him a hat. I thought the camo print made it look more masculine. He loved it and still wears it several years later. I’ve also knitted baby items and kitchen linens.

If you know how to do calligraphy, writing out a meaningful quote and putting it in an inexpensive frame can be a lovely gift.

Whether you choose to go for store bought items that were on sale or for handmade gifts,  remember the words of Jesus:

It is more blessed to give than to receive.