Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


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31 Days: Fear of What Others Think

{art: Elizabeth Nourse}

I used to be obsessed with what others thought. 

As I thought about this recently, I remembered an embarrassing story from my new-mom days.

Guests were on their way to our house.  My oldest was just a few months old and they hadn’t seen her since she was born.

I put her in her cutest pajamas, spread out her cutest quilt on the floor with a few toys, and placed her in the middle of the blanket as our guests pulled into the driveway.

Little Miss Busy would have none of it.  Unaware of my plan to have her looking perfectly cute when our friends walked in the door, she crawled off the blanket to explore more interesting things.

In frustration I put her back. And of course, she crawled off again.

By the third time I was getting really irritated.  And then, before the doorbell rang I found myself appalled by my ridiculous behavior.

I was absolutely bent on creating the perfect impression to control what others thought of me and my child.

And when I couldn’t achieve that, I became angry.

Although I had operated in that mindset for years (which is manipulative, really), this time I saw it for the pride that it was.

Although this is a silly, over-the-top (though sadly true) tale, don’t we often care a lot about what people think about us and our kids?

And don’t we fear their disapproval?

This fear of what others thought was partially what drove me to set a graceless standard for my children that was higher than I set for myself, to try to create robotically obedient clones who would make me look good.  It wasn’t the only reason, but it was part of it.  It didn’t work, and it created a lot of fear in me.

Pride is often (usually?) the root of fear. Christ-followers know that he is big enough to handle whatever we are afraid of, yet we cling to the idea that our worry can somehow make a difference.

In any case, for years and years I heard words in my head, words from my past like, “Can you believe she let her kids act that way?”  “What little monsters!”  and “They should keep their children under control.”  Growing up in a “first time obedience” culture, I heard comments like this all the time.

And I was just plain scared of what others thought.

But here’s the deal, moms.

You don’t answer to other people.

You just answer to God.

What other people think is not important.

Oh, it’s ingrained in us to think so.

We want to be the best moms we can be.  We want to raise our kids well.  But we want to raise them for God and according to his directive, not for our parents, our in-laws, our best friend, a conference speaker, or that perfectly together mom that we really want to be friends with.

People are going to judge.  As a former Olympic-level judger, I can attest to that.  They’ll judge you because you are too liberal, because you are too disorganized, because your family doesn’t hold to their standards of modesty or movies.  They’ll judge you if your lawn is shaggy or if you struggle with homemaking.  They’ll judge you if you’re overweight or not stylish enough.  And they’ll especially judge for the behavior of your children.  Not everyone will, but there will be some.

After years, I finally realized that I didn’t have to fear this.

I should only worry about what one person thinks—God.

My loving father who, Isaiah says, gently leads those who have young.  My good shepherd who makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters, the God who restores my soul.  God who extends grace and mercy, whose strength is made perfect in our weakness.

That God.

His opinion is the only one who matters.

“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” Proverbs 29:25

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This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, in November!

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Linking:

Better Mom Monday

Miscellany Monday

Hear it, Use It


2 Comments

31 Days: When Your Children are Afraid

{art:Robert Gemmell Hutchison}

Kids get scared.

Often these fears are childish—fear of the dark or fear of being alone.

When I was little I was afraid the three bears lived in my mom’s shower.  Later, I was convinced that there was a skeleton in there.  And I thought there were scary angels in my brother’s walk-in closet.

Hardly rational.

But what do you do when the fears are real, when what they fear might really happen?

This is our opportunity to disciple our children to trust God.

First, we must model faith ourselves.  Our children will mimic what they see.

Second, we must continuously reassure them of God’s love, care, and faithfulness even when bad things happen.

Third, we should pray with them and for them and encourage them to pray themselves.

Fourth, we can provide scripture for them to meditate on when they are frightened.  For years my brother kept a tiny plaque in his room with 2 Timothy 1:7 engraved on it: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”  This reinforces truth to our children.

Finally, if possible, we should present them with a plan to use in case their fear comes to pass.  “If you forget your song during the recital, just smile and start over.  Remember, the audience is on your side!”  Sometimes having a plan in place makes all the difference.

A firm foundation of faith will help our children grow into fearless people who trust Jesus.  We have the precious opportunity to set them on that journey now—even when their fears are well-founded.

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This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, in November!


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31 Days: Irrational Fears

{art: Guy Orlando Rose}

There are times when we know that our fears are just plain silly.  Completely irrational.  But it doesn’t stop us from being scared.

Some of us are still scared of the dark, even as adults.  Of being alone.  Of spiders or dogs or aliens.

How about apocalyptic conspiracy theories?

We know deep inside that those fears don’t make sense, but we are still scared!

When our children see us modeling irrational fears, they will follow in our footsteps.

It’s time to take those irrational fears in hand and tell them who’s boss!

Take a good hard look at what you’re afraid of.

Name it.  Tell yourself out loud that it’s silly.

Ask God to help you overcome your fear.

Trust that you can get past this!

Remember, you don’t want to influence your children to live in this bondage.

You can do it!

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This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

*********

Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, in November!

*********

Linking:

WIP Wednesday

Women Living Well Wednesday

Works for Me Wednesday

Encourage One Another


2 Comments

31 Days: What to do When You Are Afraid of God

I once went through a time in my life where I had a lot of anxiety about God.

I couldn’t pinpoint it really.  It was just a reservation, a cautious wall in my heart.

But one day as I ran the vacuum cleaner over the carpet, I realized how I really viewed him.

Although I gave lip service to a loving, gracious Heavenly Father in theory, practically I viewed him as a wrathful taskmaster who was just waiting for me to trust him so he could jerk the rug out from under my feet.

Right there in the middle of the housework I started to cry.  I realized that I had believed a lie.

Maybe you have believed that lie too.

Maybe you have spent time in a religious environment that emphasized outward conformity and religious rules to please God.

And even though you love him, that mental picture of a deity who demands performance in exchange for approval is the one you carry in your head.  This is the image you’ll pass to your children.

That’s not what the good news of Jesus is all about.

When we begin our journey with Christ through a heart-cry of repentance and faith, God sees us as completely righteous and fully forgiven—not because of what we’ve done, but because of what Jesus has done.

There’s nothing we can do to make him love us more, and nothing we can do to make him love us less.

He sees us through the righteousness of Christ.

Our own good deeds can’t make us closer to him or cause us to win his favor.  They should flow from a heart of love and gratitude, not because we are trying to earn brownie points with God.

We kind of hate that.  It feels good to imagine that we are able to do something, anything, to make God happy with us.  And we feel we deserve the emotional self-flagellation we mete out when we fail.

The thing about grace is that we don’t deserve it.  We never will.

God’s gift is just that, a gift.

Accept it.  Accept his complete, unconditional, unreserved love and forgiveness.  And just love him back.

The fear will fall away!

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This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

*********

Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, in November!

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On Your Heart

Soli Deo Gloria

Heart +Home Gathering

Titus 2sday


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Fearless Mothering: What if I Mess Up My Kids?

{art: Henri Lebasque}

There are a few arrogant women in the world who think their mothering methods are pretty much perfect.

But most of us are painfully aware of our own weakness and inadequacies.

In fact, I daresay that this awareness fuels some of our greatest fear as mothers.

We hear adult children of dysfunctional parents tell of how their parents messed them up.

Or we recognize our own parents’ shortcomings and how they affected us.

Maybe we never had a good model and we just don’t know how to be moms.

We don’t know what voices to listen to.  Popular parenting magazines?  Christian child-training “experts?”  Our peers?

Our dysfunctions pop to the surface.  We see how selfish we can be.  Maybe we yell or find that mothering brings out a latent anger we didn’t know we had.  We say cutting things that we wish we could take back.  Perhaps we struggle with depression or circumstances beyond our control…death, divorce, crumbling health, or financial devastation.

Life gets messy.  Really messy.

Mothering presents challenges we never anticipated.  It can range from basic personality clashes to profound special needs.  But in any case, these challenges leave us breathless, desperate, afraid.

The question that comes is: Do I have what it takes?

Can I be a good mom?

What if I mess my kids up forever?

These precious children whom I love more than life itself…What if I am not enough?

Sweet moms, I get it because I am right there with you.

You know what I have realized?  We aren’t enough.

We are broken, hurting women on a sin-shattered planet and our best efforts are not enough to guarantee a great outcome.

But should this make us despair?

Oh, no!

This is where faith comes in.

Jesus knows our weakness.  He knows we will mess up.  He knows our dysfunctions and our pain.

He knows that we are not enough—but he is.

And so, rather than give way to the terror that we will ruin our kids forever, I believe that there are several things that we can do.

1. Run to Jesus, and point our kids to him.

It’s why we need the good news, the Gospel, that Jesus died in our place and took the punishment for our sins.  When we accept that, he becomes our ruler and forgiver.  We don’t have to try to be good enough on our own any more.

He’ll change us.  He can take that brokenness and make us continually more whole in a process of inner transformation.

2. Extend grace to our children.

If we are harsh or have expectations of our kids that are higher than we have of ourselves, they will certainly resent us.  But if we approach them in a posture of humility, they will see that we are in this together, we all mess up, and we all need Jesus.  When we extend grace to them when they mess up, they will be more likely to extend grace to us when we mess up.

3. Trust God to fill in the gaps.

We still won’t be perfect.  It doesn’t matter how clean the house, how loving our words, how well-organized our educational plan, or how much devotional time we have.

We’re going to fall down.

We’re broken, period.  That’s why we need him.

And so we look to God, the only perfect parent, to fill in the gaps.  When we are unloving, he never is.  When we make mistakes, he never does.  When we fail to extend grace, he is ever gracious.  When we aren’t very good moms, he never fails.

And we can lean into his sweet grace and know that he is right there, fully able to fill in the empty spaces of our weakness.

He is enough.

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This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

*********

Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, in November!

*********

Linking:

Better Mom Monday

Miscellany Monday

Hear it, Use It


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31 Days of Fearless Mothering

When I wrote my to-do list Wednesday morning, I didn’t put “call 911.” 

I didn’t write “watch as daughter is taken to the hospital by ambulance” or “research medical emergency doctors can’t explain.”

But that’s exactly what I did.

How ironic that this happened just as I was about start 31 Days of Fearless Mothering.

How do we mother in a world where bad things happen? 

How do we live in peace for our children?

How do we face unknowns?

This passionate mother-love, this God-given maternal instinct that would make us die for our children if necessary, can sweep us right past normal caution into a life controlled by fear, and that fear can suck the life out of us and our families.

Mamas, I have been there.  So many times.  Fear was the air I breathed as a young bride and new mom.

And God helped me to overcome, to learn to live in freedom.

I tell the whole story in my ebook, Fearless Mothering, that I’ll release in November.  (I’m giving away lots of copies, so check back for updates!)

And this month I’m joining The Nester and hundreds of other women who are writing on a single topic for 31 days—in my case, learning to let go of fear and be moms of courage and faith.

The world can be a scary place—but I have a great and trustworthy God.  I want to talk about that this month. 

Won’t you join me?

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Day 2: What if I Mess My Kids Up?

Day 3: What to Do if You are Afraid of God

Day 4: Irrational Fears

Day 5: When Your Children are Afraid

Days 6 and 7: Oops!

Day 8: Fear of What Others Think

Day 9: Fear of Culture

Day 10: Fear of Culture, Part 2 (How Jesus lived in a perverse culture)

Day 11: Fearing the News (Current Events)

Day 12: Christian Superstitions

Day 13: Raise Brave Kids

Day 14: Ann Voskamp on overcoming fear

Day 15: Oops!

Day 16: Fear Can Make us Over-Shelter

Day 17: Fear of the Future, Part 1

UPDATE: Days 18 onward…RM is on hiatus due to an unexpected time of transition for our family.  Feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter to hear when we’re back up and running.  Thanks for understanding!

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, in November!


2 Comments

Guest Post: From Deserts to Gardens

For this week’s mentor Monday, I’m overjoyed to have a guest post Debra from As I See it Now.  Debra has been one of my favorite encouragers for years.  A mom of an adult daughter, she has much wisdom to share with us.  Thank you so much, Debra!

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So there I was… out in the hot Nevada desert in 1989, newly-moved into a mobile home in a town far from any shopping malls, with 9-year-old Naomi and my husband, Tom, who worked four days farther out in the (bleak) desert then stayed home for four. Well, when things went smoothly. Often he worked longer stretches.

In that dried-up place, complaining about the heat, the sand flying in my face, the lack of scenery and fun things to do was easy. And since Nevada is the most transient state, even church people hesitate to form friendships with new folks who’ll just probably escape soon, so I felt ultra-isolated, as well.

I’d been a positive person, but in Nevada?  I caved-in and became morose. Naomi would leave for school and then I’d let myself go– I’d complain by the hour and for whatever reasons, I began sewing clothes for Naomi even though I hated sewing.  I gave-up trying to make friends (I’d always been shy) and instead, became passionate about writing letters to faraway pen-pals. 

Tom made more money than we needed, but spending it never cheered me up. (Wild, huh?)

Around noon each day, a cold, inky blackness seeped over me, nearly choking me and I’d try to run away by taking walks or driving to the supermarket where I’d pray someone would smile at me. Anyone. Then Naomi would arrive home from school and I’d force all these shattered pieces of myself back together for her sake, for I didn’t want her to remember a childhood with a depressed mother.

Most likely, being cheerful for her probably did much to save my mind. 


Finally, after some negative-minded, wasted years, I asked God to show me why I was so miserable. 

Oh dear. God told me my attitude stank. I wanted things He didn’t want for me and I complained about what He’d already given me (so why should He give me something better?). Resentment filled me with bitterness and spoiled the chance of new friendships, delights and adventures. 


He showed me I could have found happiness by telling others hello at the supermarket rather than waiting for them to show kindness toward me. 

After all, it is in giving that we receive. 


But most of all, He showed me the way to a rich life is to seek to know Him. Not just about Him, but to know Him so intimately that I feel Him beside me at the supermarket, the movie theater, the coffee shop. Everywhere.

Slowly God walked me out of depression. He helped me renew my mind so that I’d see things His way, not the world’s way (the world is so clueless and reactionary). And He showed me that His joy is my strength–lose that joy and I’m, well, sunk.

How different the past 18 years have looked! Oh, I’ve experienced the occasional bad days, but never has that inky black depression returned. God set my feet upon solid ground of His peace and joy and the desert in my soul vanished: He replaced it with a well-watered garden.

Facing truth about myself set me free, indeed. And that Truth wants to do the same for anyone who’s ready for a whole new life.

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

*********

Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!

*********

Linking:

Better Mom Monday

Miscellany Monday

Hear it, Use It

On Your Heart

Soli Deo Gloria

Heart +Home Gathering

Titus 2sday


6 Comments

One Way to Beat the Blues

Many years ago during a very dark time in my life, I kept a tiny journal next to my bed.

Each night before sleep, I wrote 5 things I was thankful for.

I attribute that one small habit with bringing light and hope and making the circumstantial depression bearable: a simple daily reflection on God’s goodness.

This week’s challenge: Keep a gratitude journal.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, just a place where you can jot down what you’re thankful for that day.  Three to five things seems to be a good number.

Help your children do this as well.  Gratitude helps turn their minds away from their own frustrations to a positive direction.

Here is another post where I wrote about this in relation to getting your day started right!

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Each month I am looking at one of 5 positive disciplines mentioned by Michael Hyatt in this podcast to re-order our family lives so we can use the internet for good and avoid its destructive impact.  The discipline for the month of September is Reflection.

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

*********

Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!

*********

Linking:

WIP Wednesday

Women Living Well Wednesday

Works for Me Wednesday

Encourage One Another


6 Comments

2 Questions That Will Change the Way You Mother

I don’t know about you, but even though I am home with my children all day, I sometimes get so busy with the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and basic physical care that I forget to come up for air and connect with my kids the way I should.

Lately I have tried to ask myself two questions at the end of the day.

“How have I fed my children’s souls today?”

Did I pray with them?  Did we read a Bible story?  Did we have a spiritually meaningful conversation?  Better yet, were these things sprinkled through my day as a lifestyle of discipleship?  It’s not about a checklist.  Every day will look different.  But was I intentional in some way about nurturing their spiritual lives?

“How have I reached my children’s hearts today?”

Have I connected with each of them in a way that makes them feel loved and strengthens our bond?  Did I give enough hugs and snuggles?  Did I take time to listen to them?  Did I say “yes” to their requests for a game or a tea party?  Did I speak gently and with understanding?  Did I discipline with grace, mercy, and kindness?  Did we read together?  Did I laugh with them?

Again, each day will look different.  But I don’t want the days to slip away with so many mundane activities that I neglect my relationship with my children, and their relationship with God.

Asking these questions has been good self-accountability.  Day by day it may not seem like much, but it adds up to a years of little connections that build a solid foundation.

What is one thing you do to feed your child’s soul or win their hearts?

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

*********

Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!

*********

Linking:

On Your Heart

Soli Deo Gloria

Heart +Home Gathering

Titus 2sday


4 Comments

The Benefits of Journaling for Moms and Kids

When I was 9 years old, I got a little pink journal in my Christmas stocking.

And I’ve been writing ever since.

At first it was very sporadic, but it whetted my appetite for what it was like to write for pleasure.  I chronicled the little boys I had crushes on (in secret code) and wrote about my loathing for chores and described my cousins’ wedding in detail.

It was an amazing way to learn the art of reflection.

Now I write daily, not just journaling but all kinds of writing—letters, articles, blog posts.

It’s how I process things, how I make sense of the world.  If I can’t figure out how to verbalize something, I write it down.

Some of my old journals are so embarrassing that I seriously consider burning them.  Others are enlightening.  They bring to mind God’s faithfulness as I read about things I’ve forgotten.  I notice patterns of struggle (my difficulty with housekeeping has been an ongoing theme for 12 years).  I see growth.  My favorite is the one where I kept a detailed account of my relationship with my husband-to-be, from the day we met until we got married.

This week’s challenge: Journal daily for 7 days. 

It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated.  Use an old notebook if you wish, or journal on the computer.  Jot down what happened that day.  Or what you are thinking and feeling.  Or write a prayer.

Here is a great post by Michael Hyatt about the benefits of a daily journal.

Bonus challenge: Help your children journal each day too.

I love this article at Frugal Girl about how she does just that.  Wouldn’t it be amazing to have your children’s lives documented in their own words and handwriting?

Do you find it challenging to journal?  If you already journal, how does it benefit you?

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Each month I am looking at one of 5 positive disciplines mentioned by Michael Hyatt in this podcast to re-order our family lives so we can use the internet for good and avoid its destructive impact.  The discipline for the month of September is Reflection.

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

*********

Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!

*********

Linking:

WIP Wednesday

Women Living Well Wednesday

Works for Me Wednesday

Encourage One Another