For the past several years, I have been writing little encouragements for Christian moms, and sharing them on my personal social media. I have had some requests from my friends to put them all in one place for them to access and share.
So, in honor of World Book Day, I am releasing my brand-new book on Amazon this week! You can buy the print version for 6.99 right here:
If you prefer the ebook version, you can buy that as well. If you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for free! If not, you can buy the Kindle version for 0.99 this week only! Next week the price will go up a bit. This is launch week special!
You can buy the Kindle version here:
There are 31 short devotionals, each with a corresponding Bible verse to meditate on during the day. This little book is written specifically to moms with small children – in the thick of mothering.
I know how difficult it can be to care for babies and toddlers, how never-ending it can seem! The sleepless nights, the crunchy floors, the squabbling amongst siblings. There’s never enough ‘mom’ to reach around, and by the time you get to eat your food is cold.
It’s no joke! But then, the rewards are great, too. The wet kisses, the endless supply of dandelions, the first “Mama”! The moments when they are sleeping so peacefully and you just know you have the most beautiful, precious child in the whole wide world!
I have cared for 8 babies over the years, 5 of my own and 3 foster babies. These meditations came from my own musings, as I face various battles in my mind; battles against Self and sin. I find that there is layer after layer of selfishness, laziness, and pride in my heart.
I hope you are blessed by this little work of love, and may God encourages your heart through these pages.
It was around 4 pm when our sweet daughter entered the world with that special newborn cry. I, who had never been too baby-crazy, looked down at her scrunched-up face and fell in love – as all mothers do! I was pretty sure I could feel my heart swelling with love, and the enormity of my emotion was overwhelming.
We took her back to my in-law’s house, and surrounded by family, we discovered the joys of night-wakings and first smiles. We were living in one bedroom, and my husband worked with his father during this time. My mother-in-law and the teen daughters operated a small bakery/sandwich shop, and I stayed home with my baby.
It was during this time that we started going to the same small church that my in-laws attended. It was a 2 hour drive one way to church. Not because there weren’t churches closer; this was the Bible Belt, after all. But this small country church had something the others didn’t: it had life. We drove to church every Sunday morning and home every Sunday afternoon. Thankfully, the folks at church were extremely hospitable, and we rarely left without a dinner (lunch) invitation. And usually a supper invite as well. Or more often, the dinner would stretch out to afternoon popcorn and games, then on into supper.
This church was pastored by a man whose teaching I hadn’t heard before. He preached often about the power of the Holy Spirit. Not about jumping and screaming and being slain in the spirit. But the power of the Holy Spirit… the power in a Christian’s life to overcome sin. I hung on every word. I hadn’t heard such life-changing stuff since Youth Bible school!
Some of the biggest lessons I learned there were:
—Temptation is not the same as sin. Satan puts thoughts in your head, and that is not sin. But if you yield to those thoughts, that is sin. Wow! That was life-changing for me! It took away all guilt I had for not being able to stop thoughts from popping in my head.
—To have power in your life, you must be filled with the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8 I prayed specifically to be filled with the Holy Spirit every day, and I learned to ask for His help in each moment of temptation. I fell a lot in the beginning. But over time, as I followed the Bible’s teaching and grew in understanding, my ‘new man’ grew stronger and the ‘old man’ became weaker. Romans 6:6, Eph. 4:22-24
Two rules I learned that helped me overcome sin; 1. sincerely repenting each time, and 2. asking forgiveness each time the sin involved another person. My biggest problem is sinning with my tongue, so I had a lot of uncomfortable conversations with people! But when you go to the person and ask forgiveness, the very awkwardness of it will help you ‘think before you speak’ in the future.
Who is the Holy Spirit? He is simply the third Person of the Trinity: the Spirit of Christ. Romans 8:9
We moved to the community where this church was located, several months after our daughter was born, and we lived there 4 years. During that time, the pastor became a true spiritual father to us. He taught us many truths from God’s Word. He shepherded us as a young married couple, being an example with his life. His wife is a godly woman who taught me many things about living in a Christlike manner. I watched her ways, her speech, and her example. To this day, I text or call her when I am feeling overwhelmed! What a need there is for godly women to teach and mentor the younger women!
There were several very Godly women in that church who took me under their wing, and taught me how to mother, how to be a wife, how to cook and clean and be a better sister in the church. Sometimes I look back on those years and wince, as I remember all the dumb things I did and said as a young wife and mom in her early 20’s. Oh, goodness. So much immaturity! But no one chided me; they simply loved me and cared for me and gently taught me. My mother-in-law was one of the most important. I am so blessed with the mother I found in her! She was there when my own mother was far away, and I learned so much from her.
Thanks for sticking with me on this journey of faith. It has been good for me to go back and remember all the goodness of the Lord; all the mighty things He has done for me! There is nothing good in me – ONLY in Him!!
It’s been a bit crazy around here the past few months.
That’s actually an understatement.
It’s been really, really hectic. Like; two brandings in one day and then a wedding to photograph and a church conference and 3 Dr. visits all in 10 days, kind of hectic. Whew. Which leaves home as more of a refueling station, and we pass like ships in the night, between running to events and tossing a load of laundry in the washer.
I dislike that kind of life. Now, I can do it ok, I know how, but I really prefer a quieter schedule. Puttering in my house and lighting a candle at mealtimes, and reading a book with my littles, or playing in the sandbox with them… that’s more my style! Ok, so that’s not completely realistic, either, but at least have some days at home, ya know?
12 days ago I drove to town and handed ‘my’ baby over to his father. I handed over all the boxes of things we’d collected for him in his 6 months with us, then I got in my suburban and drove away.
“I could never do that!”
I hear you. I do. I used to say that too.
I still don’t enjoy doing it. But if God calls you to step up, He will also lavish His grace and strength upon you. He will equip you for every job He has for you. This is why we need to be so very careful to stay in His will for our lives.
We had this last placement (foster child) for 6 months. He was like my own. The kids bonded so well. We are still adjusting to life without our baby, but we are also happy that he is with his biological family. He seems to be adjusting well. As well as can be imagined, considering everything.
Obviously, it’s frustrating to not be able to share more details, but for his safety and our legal obligations, we are not allowed to share much. Suffice it to ay that he is in a good place, and we are happy for him. In this case, foster care has worked exactly as it was designed to. And for that I am grateful!
Meanwhile, we are taking a break from fostering. I’m not sure how long. I’m not sure if we will ever open our home again, or if we are done. But we are taking it slowly and deciding things one case at a time. I did agree to do respite for 4 kiddos next week. Yikes! 😉
Oh, my heart will always, always be with the foster care system. So many kiddos sitting in social workers’ offices, so many crying babies who need a nurturing mama, so many hopeless teens whom no one wants. I pray God will call many people to this ministry, to care for ‘the least of these.’
You’ve all heard it: “Sleep when your baby sleeps”, but really? Have they actually tried running a household while sleeping when baby sleeps? I mean, the baby is awake for the grand total of 1.5 hours, and 97.2 percent of that time is consumed with changing their diaper, feeding them, and trying to get them back to sleep. In the approximately 3 minutes remaining, it is pretty hard to make a meal, launder grungy clothes, clean the bathroom, and comb your hair. Let alone get the nail polish out of the carpet in your toddler’s bedroom, or actually eat a meal.
I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me who never outgrew their dislike for childhood naps. Or maybe it’s because every time I decide to be good and lay down for a nap – that’s when my 3 year old decides to wake up early from her nap, or my 6 year old feels its an appropriate time to start screeching “NOT FAIR!!” at her brother (who made sure I was drifting off to sleep before starting to teasing her).
Perhaps I am the only one who has no ‘off’ knob on my brain – and as soon as I lay down in a (relatively) quiet spot for 3 seconds, my brain thinks it’s a perfect time to remind me of that closet that needs organized, and that gunky stuff I saw this morning in the fridge, and did I remember to send the car payment or am I gonna wake up from my nap with no car in the drive?
I try. I really do. I think:
“Today I will get a nap no matter what.” I carefully instruct and warn (threaten) the older kids: “No fighting! None! A scream will earn you extra chores and you know how bad you hate cleaning the fridge when there’s gunky stuff in there! NO teasing! Actually, you two don’t even talk to each other! On second thought – you all go outside and don’t come back in till I say you can!”
“What If we’re hungry or thirsty?”
“Drink from the creek – pretend you’re pioneers, OK? And you won’t starve in 1 hour, I promise… now go.”
I then carefully get the baby asleep and immediately lie down myself. Its quiet. Peaceful. I will put all thoughts of empty socks drawers and crunchy floors out of my head. We can go barefoot tomorrow. It won’t be fun – with the crunchy floors an all – but I am getting a nap!
I am drifting off to sleep, finally, after several stern self-talks and mental floggings. Then I hear it – screams.
Happy screams. Shouts of laughter and joyful calling to one another, but right outside my bedroom window! I sigh and stick my head under my pillow. That does next to nothing for the volume level. I decide I can sleep through it, and will myself to ignore it and focus on the bird songs and whirring of the bathroom fan that I left running to drown out kid-noises.
Except it doesn’t. Nothing drowns out those happy shouts from 10 feet away. I grin a little, and roll out of bed. Sitting there on the edge of the bed I say aloud:
“I give up. I just give up.” And I stand up and walk to my waiting laundry.
“Sleep is not that important”, I tell myself, soothingly. “You can sleep all you want when the kids are gone.”
I know that’s probably not true – but visions of long, uninterrupted nights in my (very distant) future gives me the umph to go on putting one foot in front of another, sorting laundry and sweeping up kitchen floor crunch. I yawn a few times, and whisper pleadings for strength and grace for the rest of this day. To be happy and patient. To love unconditionally and relentlessly. To have a calm and sweet voice and not bark at my family. Because God has been so good and gracious to me – how can I be less to His children? He does, you know. He does give me grace and patience. Love upon love. And joy. True joy that tiredness can’t quench.
But I have to stay nestled in His arms, covered with His grace, and bathed in little prayers throughout my day. Church and friends and good books and long naps won’t get me through. Only my Father God and His power.
We love each other! :)
Note: I don’t recommend having your kids drink from a creek. Especially where 800 head of cows also have access to it, if you know what I mean. They will probably get cooties and leeches and all sorts of gross things. Yuck. Please send a bottle of water out for them to drink. 😉
Spring! Ah, what a lovely season! I won’t say it is my favorite, anymore, because on the high prairies of Wyoming – spring is still quite chilly most days. But I surely do love the idea of spring! All the new babies in the meadows – skipping and dashing around their mamas, the fresh, thin mist of green springing up in the hay meadows, the flocks of blackbirds filling the air with their chattering… oh yes, spring is indeed a wonderful time of year!
After 2 months of night shift, my man has finally returned to a normal day schedule. I am so happy about that! Night shift was actually less work for him, so in that way it was good, but I really didn’t enjoy being on an opposite schedule from him. Especially since I homeschool 3 kids and have 2 little ones here too. It definitely took some creativeness to keep everyone reasonably quiet, but it was good experience for me. I can now sympathize much more with others in that situation.
Reading with her cousin.
We had a real warm spell a few weeks ago, and I took advantage of it by getting in some walks. My foster baby is 4 months old, and HATES the wind in his face, so I was tickled to find a secondhand stroller with a wind-guard! Helps a ton to keep him happy and warm.
He is such a good baby. Of course he has his moments, like the carseat! He isn’t a big fan of that. And he decided to disown his pacifier, which does NOT make me happy! I love when I can stick a paci in their mouth on a car ride, or at church, or to go to sleep. But nope. No amount of coaxing will make hm take it anymore.
Last week the snow and colder temps returned, along with another round of cold virus in the house. But God is still good and on the throne, so I have no complaints!
I have been trying to get back into a better rhythm of Bible study again, now that I’m settling into life with a baby. I find that keeping a Bible laying beside my chair is the best way for me. I used to think: “Oh, I have the Bible app on my phone, I’ll just use that.”
But the fact is – the Bible app is the slowest app to load. I mean, who wants to wait 2 minutes for the app to load, when Instagram loads in .5 seconds?! Seriously, folks, this is what happens. But I won’t accept that. I must get in my reading daily, or I don’t grow. I don’t thrive. I start going backwards immediately. The Word of God is powerful. We say that – but do we believe it? It really is powerful!!! It gives me direction, instruction, courage, and strength for daily life.
So, that recliner where I sit all the time to feed the baby – that is ‘my’ chair. I have an older Bible laying within arms’ reach. I chose an older Bible, because I don’t want to worry if it gets coffee spilled on it, or if my toddler decides to scribble in it. I keep my precious Christmas-gift-from-my-husband Bible elsewhere. I pick it up and read a verse or two or a couple chapters when I have a few minutes. It’s amazing how much you can get read in a day if you make it a priority! I bet you have ‘your’ chair somewhere too. Maybe you can find a Bible that you can lay within arms’ reach and start feeding on God’s Word daily. It will change your life, if you let it. If you are afraid of kids or pets messing up your nice Bibles, then you can go to the Dollar Tree and get one for $1.00. I bet you can manage that. 😉 and then no worries. Just read it. Use it. Mark in it. But read it.
Pulling a calf to the warm barn, with mama following.
February is a month of love. Valentine’s Day, candy, hearts, and roses. But on the ranch, February is much different. It means long nights of checking heifers, pulling calves, wading through thawing snow, and bottle-feeding bum calves.
It is also the middle of the long Wyoming winter – blizzards and high winds and ice. We have been having crazy high winds the past few days, 75+ mph. It blows over semi-trucks, and blows shingles off houses and blows over anything not weighed down. If the windmill blades aren’t locked down, they will blow right off!
We have been dealing with some sickness, (not too bad) and it got the baby. One day he was feeling so poorly, that I took him for a drive – just to lull him to sleep. I don’t remember ever doing that before – taking a baby for a drive to make it sleep. But by baby #7, you tend to relax on some things. 😉 Plus, with Cliff sleeping during the day, I couldn’t have him screaming in the house. Anyways, he did go to sleep, and I moseyed around the ranch, stopping to snap a few pictures from the window.
The snow has mostly melted, for the first time since Thanksgiving. We had giant snow piles along the lane for months. But I don’t relax too much, because March – May are normally our snowiest months! I expect several more big storms before we see real spring.
I am busy with our foster baby – he is a good baby, but still… babies require a lot of time. I almost forget how often they like to eat! 😀 He’s getting chubsy and smiley and oh! so fun. We are all falling in love with him.
Note: I can’t say much about him, due to confidentiality laws. But I’ll address the most asked questions — No, I can’t tell you why he is in foster care, No, we are not planning to adopt (we always work to reunify kids with their families), and No, we have no idea how long we will have him.
So that is why my blogging suffers, right now. I’m busy making bottles, changing diapers, and rocking a cute little boy.
Today it is really warm outside, and the first calm day for a long time. So the kids ran outside as soon as they finished morning chores – determined to not waste this lovely day! I was happy to see them go. The older ones promised to watch their littlest sister carefully – which made me glad. Teens are the coolest! (lots of tractors/trucks/horses/bulls make the ranch yard not terribly safe for a tiny human)
Yesterday we had a recertification meeting with the foster care co-ordinator. I was nervous, (which was unnecessary,) but as always, she was calm and helpful. I hear so many horror stories of caseworkers and foster care workers, but I guess we are just really blessed. Ours are the best! I mean sure, some are more strict than others, and some are naturally more cheerful, or whatever, but I haven’t had a bad experience with any, so far. Really kind and helpful.
Ok, I’m starting to ramble. I better go throw a load of laundry in the washer.
I hope your day is pleasant and you find a bit of nature to relax in.
Recently I was reading something written about how hard, and yet rewarding babies are… when I realized something – I have changed. When I had 1 or 2 or maybe even three babies, I thought things were hard that I don’t think are hard now. I viewed life differently, I viewed motherhood differently, I certainly viewed child training differently! And it it started me thinking — what changed me? Age? Experience? Losing a child? Maturing? Growing in the wisdom that comes from God?
I don’t know. Probably a bit of all three. Everyone is shaped by their life experiences, relationships, and the media they consume. I wish I could have started my parenting journey with the view I have now – my kids would have benefited from a more grace-giving mama!
Here is a few ways I have noticed where I have changed:
1. “This child made me change countless diapers.”
Yes, with my first baby I got sick and tired of changing diapers. Maybe once in a while with my second baby too. But after baby # 3? Nope. Doesn’t bother me at all. Even the squiggly, squirmy one! And between five babies – trust me, I’ve had a few of those! I Actually kind of enjoy it now. I mean, it’s one-on-one time with the baby – which can get neglected in a busy household. I like to talk to them, blow raspberries on their tummies, and kiss their toes. And no – my husband doesn’t change many diapers. I don’t know if I would let him, these days! 😉 Seriously, mamas – it’s not ‘wasted time’. It’s vital to their care and well-being. And since you will be changing 1,000’s of them, best figure out how to enjoy it! Disclaimer: I still hate changing a stinky diaper on a toddler who isn’t my own child. Eesh.
2. “I have to get up ALL night!”
OK – this one is tough. I admit it. It is hard to get up often – sometimes every hour- with a baby when you haven’t had a full night’s sleep in 3 months. Or a year. or more! I totally understand. I don’t remember minding this much when my first babies were waking at night, but the last two have been harder. ( I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism, which makes me a lot more tired.) However, this one is particularly special to me for two reasons: a. I had to get up at night for a month to pump, when my baby was in the NICU… Trust me – being able to snuggle a warm baby when you get up is so much better! b. I have lost a baby. (a toddler, really) And I nearly lost another one. ‘They’ said I would miscarry. ‘They’ said it was a matter of time before the baby I was carrying would die. ‘They’ were wrong – God prevailed and the baby lived. After a month in the NICU, she came home to flourish and grow. Do I mind her waking me up at night? No. Sure it is tiring, sure there are some awfully long nights, but no. Not when I consider the alternative. Not when I remember the aching emptiness of my arms after my son died.
3. “Babies make such a mess!”
…when they eat, when they play, when they bath, etc, etc. Everything they do makes a mess. I know. this one was probably one of the hardest for me when I was a new mom. I had dreams, people! I had dreams of a tidy little house with a vine-covered porch. It would have a neat writing desk inside and fresh flowers on the table. Lemonade or sweet tea would always be fresh and cold. I wasn’t expecting the whirlwind of spit-up baby clothes, (not to mention my clothes!) baby bottles, smeared food, splashed water, and toy-strewn floor! The porch never materialized, the lemonade was spilled, the writing desk had dried-milk spots on it, amid burp cloths and pacifiers. I mourned for a bit, then soon learned to see the beauty in the mess. The baby mess, that is. I still am learning to control my own clutter! Cleaning up a messy highchair is actually kinda fun now. (wow! I can’t believe I said that! I’ve come a long ways…) Wiping up bath water is just fine. Toys are no sweat.
(Now if you could teach me to clean up my own messes… 😉 )
Dear fellow mamas, this time will pass. They will grow up. A year or two of baby messes and sleepless nights will seem small pretty soon. Keep on going. Keep your smile, your sense of humor, your faith in God. Have patience. Practice kindness. It will do your heart good. It will do your kids’ hearts good! Remember that there is an end – and someday you might just be willing to wipe up a small flood on the bathroom floor – just for the indescribable joy of hearing those baby shrieks of glee.
Tell me, how has your parenting changed the way you view things? Do you still hate to change diapers? What has led to your change of perspective?