If Heaven Were A Place and Why I Stay Away

He stands in an empty room. It’s quite and still, but his heart speaks to memories the he holds.

I couldn’t stand in that room, so I stay away.

There are moments when the pain of what is gone is too great. It sears your mind and heart like a flaming sword reaching to the depths of your soul.

I choose to stay away. I don’t need that today.

I’d rather keep the memories as I know them. Memories of what was good, true, and pristine.Family Praying Before Dinner

Of a place completely safe and full of joy.

The place is a house that was filled with love, laughter, comfort and peace.

But things change, people pass from life to death, and lives move on.

The house will change, too, as it should, with a new generation bringing joy and laughter to its walls.

The empty house I avoid reflects the emptiness I feel on days where I want just one more moment as things were. Moments with people who are no longer here.

So I remember the house filled with a love which was a glimpse of the Father himself.

A plate that hung on the wall in this home.
A plate that hung on the wall in this home.

A table where no one was turned away.

A back door that was always open.

A path worn of little footprints.

For a time, heaven on earth.

If heaven were a place, it’d be there with all the memories that made the house a home.

That’s where I’ll keep it today –

The home that was like heaven in my heart.


What moments do you have that are like “heaven on earth?” Or how have you walked through grief and losses in your life? We’d love to hear from you!

Parenting Series: Fifty Things I Want My Child To Know About Life

To my children entering the world of adulthood –  I recently wondered what I haven’t taught you.  So here’s my non-exhaustive list of things I want you to know. 

fifty things I want to my child to know about life.

  1. Be as wise as a serpent and as innocent as a dove {Matthew 10:16}. Use common sense when dealing with people, institutions, and situations.  When in doubt, trust your gut.
  2. Don’t use a Pampered Chef stone on an open flame. It will break.
  3. Cleaning up after yourself right away will save you a lot of dread of doing bigger jobs later.
  4. Don’t give out your personal information to anyone unless you need to for business, professional, or personal reasons.
  5. Disable the GPS tracking on your smartphone when you finally can afford one on your own since we have deprived you of this luxury.
  6. Be kind to everyone but you don’t have to be their friend if they are not healthy or appropriate to be in a relationship with you.
  7. You can buy potatoes, beans, corn and tomatoes in a store. Not everyone has a garden.
  8. Pay your bills on time and don’t carry credit card debt.
  9. Watch for hidden fees in business transactions. You don’t need “all the extras.”
  10. If it’s too good to be true, it is. Unless it’s answer to a specific prayer and you’ve checked it out with God first.
  11. Pray every day and be in God’s word as often as you can.
  12. Consult with God about your daily decisions.
  13. If it doesn’t feel right, wait, or don’t do it.
  14. Don’t buy meat from Walmart.
  15. First impressions really do matter.
  16. Budget for your necessities first and make sure you can pay for them. Get necessary debt paid off as soon as possible.
  17. Stay away from people with bad pick-up lines.  Or good pick-up lines unless you want to have sex with them.
  18. Don’t have sex with anyone with consulting God first. He does have something to say about it. If you’re serious about your relationship with Him, you can’t ignore this area.
  19. Open the door for others.
  20. Don’t be afraid to take risks.
  21. Don’t take stupid risks. Have common sense {see #1)
  22. Build relationships with your siblings. You have relationships with them for life. See them as adults, not as who they were as kids. Don’t hold grudges.
  23. Find a church you feel comfortable in, but don’t stay away until you find “the right one.”
  24. Keep in touch with your grandparents.
  25. Don’t say display anything on Twitter or Facebook you wouldn’t want a future boss, spouse, or mother-in-law to see.
  26. Don’t throw credit card receipts or statements with personal information in the trash no matter where you live.
  27. Don’t get into a car with a stranger.
  28. If you can’t find a job, McDonalds is always hiring.
  29. Marriage is hard work. Don’t think you can change anybody but yourself.
  30. Extend grace to others.
  31. Don’t judge people who were not raised like you.
  32. Don’t expect your future spouse to be like me or your dad. 
  33. Earn your way in life but give to others and graciously receive when something is given to you.
  34. Air-dry any clothes you don’t want to shrink or look worn.
  35. Clothes pins can be found at a hardware store.
  36. You can’t microwave anything with metal.
  37. You need to brown a roast before putting it in the oven or crockpot.
  38. Kids are cute but don’t have them before you are ready to give up your time and energy to someone else.
  39. Worship God no matter what the circumstance.
  40. Cheap food is not always the healthiest.
  41. You need life insurance, car insurance, and renter’s or home-owner’s insurance.
  42. Be cautious when walking in dark hallways. Park under lights in a parking lot at night.
  43. Be generous with kind words as long as they are genuine.
  44. Don’t order things from TV advertisements.
  45. Cheap is not always better.
  46. Expensive is not always quality.
  47. Go to a doctor when you think you need to.
  48. You can learn to do just about anything. Most of what your dad and I know we didn’t know when we were your age.
  49. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
  50. Your way is not the only way.

That’s all for now. I love you,

Mom

What You’re Born To Do: Lesson From a Killer Dog

I learned a lesson from a killer dog. This spring our Boston Terrier was killed by another family pet, an English Shepherd. Both were outdoor dogs along with our German Shepherd. The kinship reminded me of the furry friends on Homeward Bound.  They were steadfast dog-friends and would play endlessly around our little homestead.

Jack Russell Terrier SnarlingSomething went wrong in that cold spring day. My husband found our Boston cowering under a car in our barn. When Ron picked her up, blood spurted out of a wound and there were bite marks on the side of her body.  “Play-fighting” gone bad.

The culprit, our English Shepherd, had blood near her mouth. She wanted to be stroked like usual, not knowing the harm she had done.  We knew.  The Boston didn’t live.  We decided our Shepherd needed a new home.  One where she could run and herd animals, which is the nature of her species. She needed to do what she was born to do.

Are you doing what you’re born to do?

Our Shepherd was designed to be a herding dog for other animals. Though we have animals on property, we don’t have the need for her as we did when we were still milking cows. Every morning before milking, my husband would go into the pasture and herd the cows towards the holding pen.  A great job for an English Shepherd.  Without animals to herd, she wasn’t able to exercise her God-given abilities and calling in life. She became restless, aggressive, and destructive.

Can you relate? Do you ever feel restless, irritated, and angry? Have you ever considered the connection between anger, discontentment, destructive behavior and the frustration of not doing what you’re wired to do? Do you ever wonder why you’re jealous of others or why you lash out through gossip, mean words or back-handed comments?

Just like my dog put her out-of-sync energy into destructive aggressiveness, we can put our out-of-sync energy into being destructive or into a state of long-term frustration and irritation.

We weren’t meant to be this way. We were meant to be free, to have joy and fulfillment from being and doing what God’s design is for us. The problem comes when we don’t exercise our calling, our gifts, our leg irons“bents.”  It’s similar to students who love working with their hands or are body-kinesthetic.  Many of them shut down or learn to hate school because they spend the whole day reading, writing and doing math. They get irritated and restless, some to the point of being assertive or angry. They feel stifled, misunderstood. Trapped.

Do you feel stifled, misunderstood, or trapped? What would it look like for you to soar in your gifts, talents – the things that make your heart sing?

Like our dog who needed a home where he could “be” in his life’s purpose, we need the space to do this, too!

I’m not going to give you an inspiring message to “be all you can be.” Most of us can’t quit our job tomorrow or abandon our kids to be all we want to be.  If so, I would trade in laundry to be the Laurie Partridge equivalent for Hillsong.

But – you can become more aware of what your heart cries out in the big and little moments of lifeWhat makes your heart burst forth in song? What brings passion to your soul? What is the root reason of your discontentment, frustration or irritation? Once you discover these things, you’ll be more aware of how God’s wired you and whether you have an outlet in your life to do and be what He has created you for.

running puppy

I wasn’t created to do laundry. I definitely wasn’t created to sing like Laurie Partridge. But I am wired to minister and communicate hope to others through teaching, writing and speaking.  A few years ago when I was in grad school for counseling, I was sharing with a stranger about a subject in History I loved teaching in the classroom.  The person approached me later and said, “When you talk about teaching, your eyes light up. It’s your passion. You were made to teach.”

He connected with my soul.  My heart does sing when I communicate what I’m passionate about – either in print, in front of people, or one-on-one as I share about Him.

What makes your heart sing? Do you have opportunities to do exercise this passion in your life? If not, what do you need to do to connect with that joy inside of you? I’d love to hear from you –please share your journey with us!

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Some ministry announcements:

Recently a few readers request topics for me to write on either here or the other sites I write for.  I’d love to hear from you, too.  What topics would you like to see me write on related to faith, parenting, or life?  Please respond with those comments on the ministry’s Facebook page and I’ll enter your name in a drawing for a surprise giveaway as a “thank you” for partnering with me.  You can get to the Facebook page here.

Those of you who are prayer warriors, I’m speaking to two different groups this week in southern Indiana on Hope Beyond the Picket Fence. Would you pray for hope to be received by women who need encouragement? Thank you.

Sharing Hope Beyond the Picket Fence
Sharing Hope Beyond the Picket Fence

Also, I’m speaking throughout the Midwest this summer and fall.  If your women’s group is in need of a speaker for a fall or spring 2014 retreat, please consider this ministry! I’d love to tailor the needs of your group through biblical teaching and authentic encouragement.  Feel free to contact me at yoderbl@gmail.com for more details or visit the speaking tab for topics I frequently speak on.  Do you have a theme or subject you don’t see or would like for me to speak on a blog topic you’ve read here? Just let me know and I will design a retreat or individual topic for that theme.

Have a great week – and I’m praying for God to show you how He has made your heart to sing!

Facing Insecurities: Why I Don’t Look In The Mirror

It’s summer time here on the Back Forty.

photo 1 (8)

With summertime comes natural beauty, fresh fruits and veggies from our garden.

The first strawberries of the season.
The first strawberries of the season.

With the changing of the seasons come the changing of life’s seasons, too. Years roll from one to another… and we’re the same person in all of them. I’m the same person I was many summers ago….ten, twenty, thirty years ago.

You are, too.

Every once in a while I hear the voice of the fifteen-year-old me though I’m well-aged past fifteen. 

She {or he} is inside of you.

Does she {or he} ever catch you by surprise?

????????She recently caught me by surprise when I realized how much I shied away from looking in the mirror. A full-length mirror showing body parts I’d rather keep covered by sweatshirts and layers of winter gear.

I realized how much I hate looking in the mirror. But it’s how I cope.

Cope with what?

 You’re probably rolling your eyes.  

Yes, I’m considered “small” if you compare me with others

But I can’t compare myself with others.

It’s as dangerous as looking in the mirror.

Because the fifteen year old me says how unworthy, disgusting, and repulsive I am when I do.

Do you have similar lies that whisper in your ear?

Your lies are different than mine.  Maybe yours say, “You’re stupid, ugly, not-good-enough,” or worse.

At fifteen, I was bound by an eating disorder that kept me in prison for all of adolescence and young adulthood.  I work hard at living addiction-free, but I can’t separate myself from the girl I was in childhood. I’m the same person even though I’ve dropped the chains of the past.

Do you have chains in your past?

Insecurities get the best of us.  My mirror-avoidance behavior reminds me that insecurities still whisper in my grown-up self.

I’m no different than you.  Do you have insecurities?

While avoiding the mirror may seem cowardly, it’s my way of honestly living with my weaknesses while not letting them cripple me.  It’s hard work to live healthy and balanced when you’ve had distorted thinking and addictive behavior in your past.

Can you relate?

Your struggle may be different, but if you battle insecurities, it’s a challenge.  Here are things I’ve learned in living with a life-long challenge.

Facing insecurities takes courage. It’s easier to hide behind our insecurities. It’s safe to hide behind self-MP900262788pity.  It’s comforting to enable our insecurities.  “I’m can’t do that, so I won’t try.”  “I was hurt in my past, so I need to self-medicate.” “That doesn’t feel comfortable, so I won’t…..” The list goes on.  Acknowledging our insecurities and saying, “What am I going to do about it?” requires courage to face what we don’t want exposed and courage to push ahead regardless of what our self-talk says.

Facing insecurities requires realistic thinking.  Don’t set yourself up for failure.  Realistic thinking means setting goals you can handle.  Looking in a full-length mirror is damaging to me. That’s why I avoid the darn thing.  It’s also why I don’t weigh myself or consider dieting.  These things will send me back to disordered-eating in a heart-beat.  Finding life-long, realistic goals you can be successful at is important in overcoming insecurities.

Facing insecurities means knowing your limits.   Going on diets and Facing Insecurities Why I don't look in the mirrorgetting on a scale plays mind games with me.  What things play mind-games with your insecurities?  How can you strengthen your resolve to work through your insecurities while balancing the weaknesses of your limits? This is crucial in not being bound by your weaknesses.

Facing insecurities means you give grace to yourself when needed.   Early spring is never the best time for me to look in the mirror.  I’m not as fit in the winter and I carry extra weight.  These are issues for me even though I don’t obsess over them.  When the fifteen-year-old me begins whispering lies about myself, I counter-act the lies with truth.  My image does not define me.  I’ve learned to give accurate grace to myself when self-loathing begins.  Where do you need to give yourself grace?

What insecurities lurk in your shadows?  What lies does your younger-self tell you?  I’d love to encourage and support you in your efforts to lay them at the feet of Jesus and start taking steps toward the the peaceful-you.  Feel free to share in a comment below or email me at yoderbl@gmail.com.  

Fans in Stadium Celebrating

It would be my privilege to pray with you and cheer you on.

Parenting Series: Raising Kids is Not So Easy

MP900227797Raising kids is not so easy. Teaching kids to respect each other is a lifelong process.  How siblings treat each other is crucial to the health of a family and a child’s individual development.  It’s tempting to ignore it when siblings hurt one another or don’t get along.

But you can’t. 

There’s not an easy answer to the problem because children have unique differences.  They go through ages and stages.  They each have their own perspective on things.

Sometimes I want to just relish in the happy family times and ignore the underlying things that brew. Doing this would be negligent. Isaac {Genesis 25} didn’t correctly deal with his sons Jacob and Esau and that didn’t turn out so well.  Teaching children how to navigate through sibling relationships is a skill they can use in other relationships in life.  

Parenting is difficult. There are times, even as an experienced counselor, I sit on my child’s bed thinking, “I don’t know how to help this situation.”  I’m thankful prayer is an ever-present resource as a parent. I can’t always help a situation or change another person’s perspective or heart, but God can.

This week has been one of “those” weeks.  A week full of family highs and lows.  Do you have weeks like that?  Weeks where you glow in the goodness of family life and then want to pull your hair out at the reality of it all – sibling rivalry, fighting, teenage melt-downs and hormones. 

At least that’s how some family days roll at our house.

As a professional writer, speaker, educator and counselor, I interact heavily in social media.  Sometimes I internally rollMP900382671 my eyes at easy “how-to” articles on parenting even though SEO data says it’s the best way to get readers. I’ve probably written some of those because a social media expert told me to.

I apologize.

There’s nothing “easy” about parenting.  

That statement won’t get me invited on the Today Show.  But I’m still raising my kids. Some days, it’s exhausting. 

How about you?  How do you impact your child’s relationships with their siblings?  What are the  stresses you experience and things you’ve found helpful?  I’d love to hear your thoughts today because I hope I’m not alone.

Father, give each of us wisdom for the journey of parenting.  Give us the words and counsel as we minister to our families. Amen.

Saying Good-bye and the Power of the Mundane

photo flowersI’m sitting on my porch swing taking in the day I hope will never end.  The sun is on its way down to slip behind the trees in an hour or two.  The flowers are bright around me and a breeze is on my cheek.  The birds are singing,  the cattle are walking to a cool place for shade.  Another Sunday gone, another week comes to an end. So predictable yet so different. 
                            This week my oldest son is graduating.  Up until now things have been routine.  Days have been predictable like every season we’ve walked through.  Today as he shared in church, he reminisced on things that have influenced him…...Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, the support he and his classmates have received in being part of a faith community.
                          “Being in a small town, there’s accountability. Because if you mess up, everyone knows,” he said.  A doubled edged-sword in ways.  My son declared it instrumental in helping him make choices growing up.  There’s value in everyone knowing your name.
                            Today’s not quite the same as I sit on my front porch rocking to the low bellows of the hungry cows.  In the routine of photo (87)life, somewhere my boy became a man. A man who has surrounded himself with friends who hold him accountable.  A man who has chosen to love God not because we said so, but because he has learned of His grace, faithfulness, and unconditional love.  A man who began walking out of my life years ago as I realized I needed to release him to be the leader God has called Him to be.
This week we will celebrate, say good-bye, and let go.
                                 Every mother releasing her son knows its different than releasing a daughter. Somewhere along the way your role changes as you step aside to let him grow and figure out who he is.  There are times to step back so he can develop strength.  Times where you have to be strong and push him into the storm so he can figure out how to survive, all the while watching with a life raft ready at a moment’s notice.  Times where you must step back and let his father instruct and discipline.  Times where you still touch his cheek with a kiss because he is still a little boy inside a man-size body.  Times where the best words are, “I’m proud of you.”
                               This boy has been a big brother, his sister’s best friend, and a son who has held me accountable when my actions or words did not match what I believed. He has been the voice of reason when needed.  In the ordinary and routine moments, he has grown into a man who is ready for the next step.
                        I believe raising kids for moments like these lie in the mundane and routine, in the moments we live when we think no one is watching.  One thing this child and I know how to do is forgive, trust, and give second chances. Important moments for us have included the words, ” Will you forgive me?”
                               I have two more boys to raise in mundane moments.  Six years from now, sitting on my porch swing, I will be saying good-bye to my last knight in the household.  I’m reminded to not rush these days on or to close my eyes to what is ahead.  Each child God gives us is one to be fully seen and known.  They are kings and queens in the making, not for our glory, but for His.
                        I’ll shed lots of tears this week along with other moms and dads celebrating the milestone of graduation.  I’m thankful for each tear of joy, sorrow, and sadness along the way.  Each one a part of the process of releasing a child to fly, lead, and grow.
                        Don’t miss the moments each day.  Let the wind blow on your cheek as the sun slips beyond the horizon. Read a book, sing a song.  Let your boy dazzle you with his charm or your girl snuggle in your arms. Shed a tear, laugh out love, and kiss a cheek.
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And let the mundane and routine bring blessing when the last goodbye is said.

Forty-five. Why Mid-life Is Not What I Feared

Today I’m forty-five. Not forty, not fifty, but halfway in between.MP900178613

Half of my life is completed, if I live until ninety, by the grace of God.

For to me, to live is Christ, to die is gain. Philippians 1:21

Ten years ago, for my thirty-fifth birthday, I borrowed a friend’s convertible and went out on the town with a few friends. It was the year I went from being a stay-at-home-mom to a first year high school teacher. The year I discovered I was a person in addition to being a mom and wife. The year I received as much from my students as I gave to them, if not more. The year I fell in love with the art of teaching, with pouring into the lives of people, and believing the best in the human spirit.

Thirty-five was good.

Mountain in Italy
The view on top of a mountain in Sicily overlooking our village.

In the last ten years, I’ve been from mountain tops to valleys, from joy to pain, from captivity to freedom. As I reflect on forty-five, there isn’t anywhere else I’d rather be at this moment in time {except, perhaps, on a mountaintop in Italy}.

At forty-five, here are some lessons I’ve learned:

  • Doing the unthinkable is do-able. I never thought I’d go to my father’s village in Sicily within my lifetime. But they said they were going and I said, “I’m going, too.”  It was a trip of a lifetime, the best of the best of times in my life.
  • Making your dreams part of your life is do-able. I never thought I would own a convertible {which I did for a short time}, run a half-marathon, write professionally, or work part-time at a job I love. These things didn’t just “happen,” they took time, commitment, determination, and thinking outside the box {except for the convertible.}  But I dared to think “why not” instead of “that won’t work.”

    The convertible that cost as much as our lawn mower. It was nice while it lasted.
  • Thinking “why not?” instead of “that won’t work” shatters the limits we put on life experiences.  My internal dialog naturally says, “Don’t tell me ‘no’ unless there’s a good reason.”  This probably got me in trouble as a child, but it’s how I think.  I’ve learned there are possibilities to things that don’t look do-able or practical.  This has proven true not only in building a house and raising children, but also in problems in life.  It’s tempting to see only the possibilities right in front of us instead of every available option. I prefer the every option available route, and it’s proven life-altering. So, if there’s a way, I usually try to find it.
  • It’s never too late to try or learn something newI started teaching late in life, after I raised my little ones.  It was still possible to enter a career semi-late.  I went back to school full time  at 40 to choose another career that fit our season of life better.  It’s never too late to learn something entirely new or to say, “I think I can do this.” 
  • Living intentionally makes all the differenceI’ve learned my limits. I can’t do it all, so I intentionally choose what I do.  A statement by Chuck Swindoll impacted me over fifteen years ago when I was driving down a country road:    Only two things are eternal, – God’s word and people. This statement continues to shape my life when I’m tempted to invest time and energy  into something that pulls from what’s most important for my season of life.  It’s my plumb-line.
  • When in doubt, give graceI wasn’t always a grace-filled person. But as I’ve received grace and have seen the change in makes in others when they receive grace, I’ve decided there’s greater good in giving grace.  That’s the power of the God we serve.  Grace is the greatest gift He gives, and we have the opportunity to extend it to ourselves and others.  I’ve seen it change lives. 

My list could go on.  But it’s my birthday and I have things to do today on my day off, like dig in the dirt and sit and do nothing.  So I’m off to do nothing.  I hope each day you can grab a quiet moment with the Lord, receive His grace, and enjoy the gift of life He gives us each day.

photo (88)-001

Here’s something from my garden to you, for a pick-me-up for your day today.

In His love,

Brenda

Parenting Series: Things I’d Do Over in Raising Girls

I’m posting at Parents Space today one of my most popular posts on raising girls.

If you’ve been reading the blog the last week, you know the challenges and journey I’ve had in raising my girl.

Here is a simple list of things I’d do again in raising a girl and things I’d do different.

Join me at Parents Space
Join me at Parents Space

Read about it here at Parents Space.

Have a great day!

Brenda

Getting Ready to Cross Over

They stood before the great River.

They fought hard, endured much, and it was before them.Great River

The time was Now.

The Promised Land.

All they hoped and dreamed of and been promised.

“They camped….for three days” (Joshua 3:2)

Do you camp for three days before you are ready for something big in your life?

As I read this verse I was startled because this is not my natural instinct – to wait, to rest, to prepare.

How many times do you get to a point in your life you are ready to just GO because you finally know where God is taking you?

We can learn a thing or two from Joshua and his men.  They waited.  They strategized.  They gained composure before claiming what God had prepared them for.

“When you see the Ark of The Covenant…..you are to follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.” Joshua 3:3-4

These words grip me.  Not only did the men wait before going where God called them, but they were instructed to follow the Presence of God (via the Ark) because they had never been to the place they were going before, and they didn’t know which way to go.

Is God calling you to something new? If so, here are thought-provoking principals from this passage.

  • Wait for God to lead.
  • Stay behind the Father, do not run ahead.
  • Keep your eyes on His Presence because He knows where you’re going {you don’t}.
  • Keep your footsteps in His path because He knows what the new environment is like and the challenges you may have.

Sand Dunes Along Ocean

I don’t know about you, but I tend to see new opportunities and jump into them.  I tend to know what God has called me too but am tempted to run ahead.  Then I get frustrated and disillusioned when the honeymoon period of the “new thing” wears off.

I’m challenged to take these principles to heart, not just for new opportunities, but for every day.

  • Wait for God to lead.
  • Stay behind Him
  • Keep my eyes on His presence because He knows where I need to go.
  • Keep my footsteps in His path because He knows what’s up ahead.

I hope these principles bring you hope, strength, and peace, too, for your situation.

Where and what is God calling you to?  Will you be  patient?  Will you wait for Him to lead, and keep your eyes on Him and rest in His presence?

Father, help us to be like Joshua’s men…..waiting, staying behind you, keeping our eyes on your presence and our feet in your path.  Help us to see, hear, and follow you.

The Parenting Series:The Simple Question and the Not-So-Easy-Answer

Last week my son came to me with a simple question.

Mom, are you busy?”MP900438778

I groaned inside because I knew the answer.  The right answer was “No. ” The wrong answer, which was inside my head, said “I really don’t want to stop what I’m doing.”

Luckily, my mouth came up with the right answer.

“No, what do you need?”

Would you play this with me?”  I looked in the hand of my sixth-grader.  He was holding a home-made board game on Carnegie he made for a school assignment.

“Sure” I said, though I silently rebelled.

Playing games is on my most-despised-mom-duty-list.

We sat on our living room floor that Saturday afternoon and in ten minutes, we successfully completed the game while learning about the life of Carnegie.  My son was happy, with a wide, content smile when we were done.  He resumed doing whatever he does in the Man-Cave with his brothers, and I returned to things a blogging/working mom does on Saturdays.

I felt guilty for being selfish with my time, but I knew ten minutes playing the Carnegie game was the most important use of my time for the week.  I cherished the time in my heart because there aren’t too many times when kids ask if I’m “not busy” these days in a house of teenage boys.   I thought back to days, not too long ago, when I was too busy for just about everything.  When the need came to spend unscheduled time with a child, I used to calculate in my head the cost of putting them off or stopping and engaging with them.   My heart usually overruled my head, resulting in precious, irreplaceable time with my kids.

A bedtime storyAs my son walked away, I longed for more time to spend with each my kids…..time snuggled in a rocking chair with three of them in my lap reading Mike Mulligan and the Steamshovel or singing “Trust and Obey.”  My heart yearned for my daughter to bring me cups of tea she imaginably made or for my sons to pour seed corn in my lap while they “unloaded the bins” with toy John Deere tractors.  Even now, the tears fall from my cheeks as I ponder these things in my heart.  I’m thankful I gave the right answer to the monumental question, “Are you busy?”

A friend and I were recently talking about many moms that seem to struggle with being content with where they are with little ones under their feet.  I remember being there.  I remember wondering if I’d ever have a thought or moment of my own or if I would ever have time where there wasn’t someone demanding my energy and time.

Now, when the rare moment comes when a child asks or calls, “Mom, are you busy?,”  I rush at the chance to be fully present with my not-so-little-little-ones. 

If I could say one word to young, harried, stretched-to-the-limit moms, it would be to seek God’s peace and contentment in the season you are in.  While the world might seem to be passing you by, it’s not.  And even if it is, your children will pass by even faster.  Once they are self-sufficient and their world revolves around their peers, you will long for just a wisp of their presence and a five-minute conversation to hear their voice.  You will yearn for time with them where you can be fully present.

God granted me ten minutes to learn about Carnegie and also affirm the time and effort my son put into his project.  We talked about other things in the process, and his fill for Mom-time was done.   But later that night, when the other two boys were in bed, I opened their doors, sat beside them in the dark, and asked if I could pray with them.

They said “Sure,” so I put my hand on their strong, manly-arms and prayed while they laid in the beds next to the picture of their girlfriends on the nightstand.   I took a chance, leaned over to kiss their heads, and felt my heart flutter as they said, “Good –night Mom” as I walked out the door.

Ten minutes was all it took, but my heart was filled as I hope was theirs.

Because our kids – whether two, twelve, or twenty, need us to be fully theirs for a few moments in time.

Dear Lord, thank you for each moment you give us.  Thank you for the seasons and stages we have with our children.  Please equip each of us as moms to stop, look, and listen to our children. Help us to not be busy when we need to be present with them.  Stretch our time, soften our hearts, and let us see our kids as you do.  Thank you for the moments you give us – help us not to miss the most important opportunities be you to our kids.

Where do you need to give one of your kids just ten minutes of your time?