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Category Archives: Motherhood
Quiet time. I am taking a little break in the midst of my day. My children are resting. I must rest too. Even a few minutes can reset my calm button. You know what I’m talking about!
So, I sit down with my bible to pour some life-giving truth deep into my heart. God’s word is filled with SO MUCH! Where do I start? Which book do I read in? It can be overwhelming sometimes to hold this 2000+ page book in your hands. But, every morsel of God’s word is fit to satisfy our hungry souls.
Truly and honestly, turn to ANY page and it will fill up the God sized hole in your life. His truth speaks from every word. Every page. Every story.
Being a mother of little ones puts you in a category quite different from mothers of older children. Both stages indeed are challenging and amazing all at the same time. But when you are a mom of infants through preschoolers, there are just some things that set you apart.
Since Mother’s Day for me was spent nursing a sick baby, I’ve spent some time just thinking to myself about the things that define my life right now. I smiled and laughed to myself and just thought…I’m NOT the only one who is in this stage of life! So, in case you haven’t already figured it out…
Have you ever had one of THOSE days?
You know what I mean….where you could describe your day in one word–frazzled.
My daughter has been sick for several days, and she just wanted to lay in her bed all day and sleep. As you know, for a two year old, that is very uncommon. It has been a rough few days. I was worried about her. A headache and fever just make for a concerned mama.
When I went into her room to check on her one evening, she looked up at me from her crib with her sad eyes and said, “Mama, I just need you.” Of course, I picked her up and rocked her. As I held her close, she started to doze off, her eyes fluttering. She would close them and after a short while, she’d look up at me with those sweet eyes that seemed to say, “Mama? Are you still there?” I’d smile at her and then she’d doze back off again. She just kept checking to see if I was there.
And again, the other night when I was laying beside her crib on the floor in the middle of the night when she didn’t feel well, she just kept peeking over the edge to make sure I was there.
And I thought to myself…she just needs me. That’s it. She just needs me here beside her.
So often we think our kids “need” so much. So much stuff. But, our kids don’t need extravagant things. They need extravagant love. And they need us…
1. To just be there 2. To help them 3. To smile at them 4. To encourage and lead them 5. To reach out and touch them 6. To pray with them 7. To believe in them 8. To teach them about God and His word 9. To introduce them to beauty in the world around them 10.To love them…unconditionally
Our kids really just need US.
I can remember after we had adopted Annabella and Gavin; Gavin was 14 months and Abba was 2 months at the time. Someone said to me, “Just love them.” Really? Certainly they need so much more than that. I made the beginning of my parenting much more difficult than I needed to. Being a mommy is hard enough without the extra stress you place on yourself to be super mama!
I tried SO VERY HARD.
I was exhausted.
From lack of sleep of course, but also emotionally from putting too much pressure on myself.
I certainly don’t have motherhood figured out. Nor will I ever! But after almost 3 years and 3 babies later, I’m learning to lighten up on myself. To relax a little bit. To not try to do it all. Be it all. Or give them everything. I don’t need to make them into perfect children. I don’t need to impress anyone. I don’t need to make myself look like a good mom.
I need to enjoy them. To embrace them. To embrace mommy-hood. To just nurture the relationships I am developing with these three precious children God has given me. They just need ME. I will fail in many areas of motherhood according to the world’s standards.
But God’s word tells me in Romans 12:2 ” Do not be conformed to this world, Alissa, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
I have an audience of one. I am to mother according to the will of God for our family- that which is good and acceptable and perfect-not according to the world. I am learning that as I trust God and focus my attention and intention on serving Him, my perspective on being a mom is changing. For the better. Praise God for His transforming power! Praise God for His Holy Spirit!
And the fruit of the Spirit is just that…fruit. As I rest in God, and allow His Holy Spirit to work in and through me, He alone will produce the fruit of His spirit in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. Praise God that I don’t have to produce these on my own. As I walk more closely with the Spirit, He will naturally develop these characteristics in me as a mom. Thankfully as I continue to grow, my children will continue to grow, my marriage will continue to grow and we will become a family that bears good fruit. And isn’t that what it’s about?
Becoming all God intends for us to become. “So that we may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that we will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:9-10)”
We need to start with the end in sight. What is your vision for your family? When we see it from God’s perspective, it changes how we look at our days. If I am to give extravagant love to my children, then I must first experience extravagant love from a God who adores me. We can only give what we have been given. As you are singing your babies to sleep tonight, take to heart what you may be singing…Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Jesus loves YOU. Oh, the beautiful simplicity of this song. Oh, the beautiful simplicity of our children!
So moms, rest easy tonight. Keep it simple! Your children don’t need much.
They need YOU.
They need God.
They need you to lead them and to love them. It seems too easy, doesn’t it?
Well, being a mom isn’t easy, but when we get our priorities in alignment, simplify and renew our minds and let God have control, we will spend less time stressed out and more time enjoying the journey.
I was just now trying to round up my three munchkins for nap time. And as I stood in the kitchen, finishing up a task I was engrossed in, I yelled, “Gavin, go get your pull-ups on and get in bed. Abba, pick out your pull-ups and go tee-tee, it’s time for nap.” They ran by me laughing and giggling and went to hide from me. I continued on with what I was finishing up. I started putting the dishes away from lunchtime. This time when they ran by I said a little more sternly, ” Come on, it’s time for naps.”
Seriously, Alissa? What was I thinking? And it dawned on me. What I am doing is ridiculous and meaningless. The verse from Ecclesiastes 1:14 came to mind, “I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after the wind.” This hollering at the kids from afar, barking commands at them, and thinking that I’m doing anything good or worthwhile is pointless and like striving after the wind. You cannot catch the wind. You cannot train a toddler or preschooler by barking commands from afar. I know this. I’ve read books about training your children. And most of you know this too. But we still do it. Is it out of habit? Or because that’s how we were raised? Is it because it’s easier in the short term? Or possibly because I’m not being intentional with my words? That was it for me. I find myself lately just saying things. Not really even thinking about the words that come out of my mouth. I didn’t say any “bad” words, I didn’t even scream at them…this time.
But immediately God gave me…
5 reasons to quit barking commands at your children.
1. They aren’t listening. When I holler at them from afar, they are usually engrossed in some other activity, be it playing, reading, or just laughing and having a good time. They are children. They are toddlers and preschoolers. They are the most impressionable they may ever be. And they can only focus on one thing at a time. Thankfully they aren’t into multi-tasking like I am and so many of us are.
2. They think it’s fun to run away and hide. Notoriously, if I tell them something when I’m not in the room with them, they automatically think it’s a game. Let’s run from mama! They are all about laughing and enjoying life at this age. Oh, I’m so thankful for that. I want to learn to enjoy life and have fun from being with my children. I want them to enjoy being with mommy and see me as being fun and enjoyable to be with. But do I want them to learn that anytime I speak, it’s their job to run away and hide?
3. I’m teaching them NOT to listen to me. This one was like a blaring red light to me. I’m teaching them that my words aren’t important. That what I have to say is not worth obeying, or listening to. I’m teaching them that the first time I speak, they can disregard the command. They are learning that it’s only when mommy gets angry or raises her voice that she means business. What am I doing? Is this how I want to train my child? If I want my words to be important to them, then I must teach them that when I speak, they are to listen.
4. I am breeding my own frustration and anger. Really. Why do I become so irritated and frustrated when my kids aren’t listening to me? Because most of the time, I’m not being clear with my instructions. At ages 2 & 3 they still have to learn what it means to obey mommy and daddy. They are learning all the time and processing what is important and what is not. When I tell them something and they don’t listen, I obviously didn’t communicate effectively. The next time I become frustrated, irritated or angry, I must stop and think, is this because of them, or most likely is it because of who I am or what I’m doing in this moment? How could I be more effective with my communication? It will take more time. It will take more thought, but in the end, when I’m more at peace and gentle with my children and even my husband for that matter, it will all have been worth it.
5. I’m speaking meaningless words. God has been bringing to my mind the power of words lately. Every word we speak as the power of life and death. Words are powerful. They can build up and encourage or they can tear down and destroy. It says in Proverbs that a wise woman builds her house. I believe that encompasses the words we choose. When we choose to let words loosely slip from our mouths, we aren’t being intentional with “building our home.” In Ecclesiastes 5:3 it says, “For the dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words.” Oh, I love this verse. It penetrates to my soul. Do you see what it says? A FOOL uses many words. Do you find yourself talking and talking and saying things over and over and it seems like no one is listening? Could it be your family has learned that your words ramble on and are not meaningful? Have they learned that mommy is always talking, always hollering, always barking at us and they have chosen to tune us out? Now, it is imperative for our children to obey and respect us. But are the words we are choosing worthy of being obeyed and respected? Ecclesiastes 5:7 also says, “For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God.” Many words are empty. I must choose my words carefully, especially at the young age of my children. I want them to learn early on that mommy’s words are meaningful.
So, what must I do to be changed? Did you catch it? In Ecc 5:7… Fear God. I must seek God and His spirit will do the nudging, the changing deep within my soul. The words of this blog post will not change you. And even I, with engrained habits, will continue to shout things to my kids, but little by little as I seek to know God more, as I pursue a life transformed by the Holy Spirit, he will make these nudges more noticeable, like he did for me today. Today, as I hollered at them to take a nap, I felt God tell me to “Stop. Go to them. Gently explain what is expected of them. And lead them. Again. And again. And again.”
God doesn’t just convict us and show us what we are doing wrong. He gently leads us and shows us a better way. Oh, that I would choose the better way. That I would choose words that build up my family. That I would choose right actions over many meaningless words.
I love it when God gives us direction and wisdom. He doesn’t dump it on us. He doesn’t scream it at us. He gently opens our eyes to show us His way, the better way, the way of righteousness. Today, I commit to God and to you reading this, that I will be intentional in choosing the words I speak to my children. I know that my dream of having my children be wholehearted followers of Jesus Christ, of being loving and kind, patient and peaceful, servants and leaders will only come with much effort and training.
Lord, help me to lead them as gently as you lead me. When I am speaking to my children, help me to choose few words wisely, and to go to them and speak with gentleness and kindness. When I’m becoming frustrated, may I remember that the source of my irritation is probably me and help me to recognize where I need to make changes in myself. I love you Lord, and trust you with my children as you love them even more than I do. Thank you for showing me how I can love them better and train them in how they should go. Amen.
So, how are you communicating to your children?
Are your words effective or meaningless?
How is God nudging you to choose the “better way”?
Have you ever thought about how YOU want to be remembered? Have you ever thought of your life with the END in mind, first?
I’m sitting in Starbucks, creating my life plan for 2014. I started listing my priorities for this current year and was inspired to think about how I want to be remembered. I’ve heard others talk about writing their obituaries. To me, writing my obituary is not inspiring. It’s depressing. But thinking about “How I Want To Be Remembered”, now that is inspiring.
As I started writing, I started dreaming of and envisioning my future. I started really thinking about what people will say about me someday…maybe when I’m gone, or maybe when I’m seasoned and gray sitting and reflecting on the one life God had given me. Who was Alissa Perez? Writing about who I want to become, most assuredly helps me to create who I want to be today.
This is who I hope to become…
how I hope to be remembered…
and who I will intentionally strive for being today.
Alissa Perez loved her family and friends, and her love for her God was contagious. Her faith in God was evident in how she lived her life. She taught others to seek first God’s kingdom and her time with God was sacred. She was a devoted wife and her husband was blessed by her all the days of his life. She loved, served and respected him in all he did. Her children adored her and felt calm and peaceful in her presence. She devoted her life to training her children well. She taught them a love of reading, to fear, love and trust God, to respect themselves and others and a genuine love of learning. She showed her children the importance of serving others. She lived selflessly, caring for the needs of other above her own. She had the best smile. And people felt welcome in her presence. Her strong character was apparent to all: integrity, gentleness, compassion, patience and kindness. She cared about others and their circumstances. Her parents always received her heartfelt respect and honor. She invested in her relationships with her friends and family.
She never seemed rushed or in a hurry. Commitment was important in her relationships. She was devoted to prayer and passionately loved to share the message of Jesus with others. The Bible was her book of wisdom, instruction, guidance and truth. She exuded joy-even in difficult circumstances. Thankfulness was in her heart and on her lips. She tried to live simply in a world of abundance. She stuck to her budget and did not desire excess. She was fun to be around and brought humor and grace into her home. She loved to travel and teach her children about the world She listened to jazz and classical music and loved exposing her children to the fine arts. She was quick to listen and slow to speak. When she spoke, she chose words that brought life. She responded with gentleness and grace, not anger and condemnation. She sought God’s wisdom above her own or the opinions of others. She sought order, not chaos but lived a life of freedom and spontaneity. She chose what was better and turned away from that which deterred her from a full life in Christ.
She was confident in who God created her to be and was thankful for the gifts she had been given. She used her talents to the best of her ability in serving the body of Christ. She was not envious but found joy in the blessings of others. She focused on pleasing God, not pleasing man. She loved unconditionally. She lived purposefully. She chose freedom in Christ over fear from the Enemy. She passed on an inheritance of strong faith and character to her children. They will forever be reminded of her love by the intentional memories she created. She was authentic and real. She chose to live for today and hope in tomorrow, rather than regret her yesterdays.
She lived a life full of faith, hope and love.
And above all else she chose LOVE.
How do YOU want to be remembered?
Psalm 23: 1-3
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.”
Restore. What does it truly mean to be restored? To be restored sounds just lovely to me. Wouldn’t any woman desire that? Don’t I, as a mother and wife (sometimes exhausted from my daily life) want what restoration can offer?
To be restored means to return to the original, usable and functioning condition; to give new life or energy; to replace what is broken. This is what I desire! Newness to what is broken in my life! As we start this new year, its an opportunity to reflect on where I’ve been and what I want for my tomorrows. Its a chance to see what hasn’t worked in my life and to plan for changes that can lead to true transformation. So I’ve been thinking of what I desire most of all. The other day I thought, “I wish I could just be made new, start over, get rid of all the junk and just be filled with all things good and true.” I get so easily frustrated with myself when I fall back into the old patterns and ways that have haunted me for so long. I desire to live life differently; to give more grace to my family, to speak words of life, to be free from fear and worry, to be deeply thankful for all I have, and yet I live each day with the same patterns and routines. I want different results, but stick with doing the same old things. I, like so many others, agree that resolutions aren’t the answer. I have failed them so many times. They are great ideas that might make my life better, easier and more meaningful, but they are just that…ideas. They aren’t goals. They aren’t plans. They aren’t changes. They never leave my head. They will never transform me.
Only Jesus Christ can do that. Only He can transform me into something new. 1 Cor 5:17 ” Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.” (HCSB) That is great news!
Restoration comes from a relationship with the Lord, Jesus Christ! Psalm 23 says that “He restores my soul.” No one else can do that. Nothing else can do that. No great ideas, no well perfected plans. Only Him. So, what must take priority on my journey of restoration?
Building my relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Making God the priority in my day. Not just talking about making God my priority, but actually DOing it! James 1:22 says “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (NIV) This surely has to be the focus of my life, if restoration is my goal. The Lord alone can and will fill our cups. And knowing this gives me hope. Because my cup needs filling daily. I can have a super day, feel like God has filled my cup to overflowing and feel amazing peace and joy. And tomorrow…my cup starts leaking. And leaking… And leaking… And eventually I’m dry. Completely dry. And when I’m dry, its really easy to start that negative thinking. That defeating reminder that I’m not what I want to be, that I’m failing and I will never measure up.
Seeking the Lord is the first step in restoring my broken soul. But even though the Lord alone can and will restore us and fill our cups, my heart has to be willing to seek and listen to God. And sometimes, I have personally found it hard to engage in any relationship when I’m running on empty, when my battery isn’t charged. I have found there are a few things I can do to prepare my heart to seek the Lord. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but a simple one to remember when you find yourself dry; emotionally, physically and spiritually.
5 ways to Restore your soul….
1. Be still
In the busyness of our days, I find it very difficult to “be still”. I am moving all day. There is always laundry to do, toys to pick up (endless toys), a house to clean, bills to pay, beds to make, children to bathe, teeth to brush, errands to run, etc. You get the idea. Having 3 toddlers, I am never still. But if seeking God is my priority, I must intentionally take the time to still my mind and my body. Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.” Practically, this may look like laying on the floor in the middle of the toys and just closing your eyes for 5 minutes. Just stop. Be quiet. Listen.
2. Be thankful.
Look around you. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, and can’t ever seem to find time to do, be thankful for what you do have and are able to do. We all would say we are thankful for our husbands, children, home, food, etc, but are we? Do we just say it? Do we really believe it? What about being thankful for the sun shining, having eyes to see, hearing our children’s laughter, toilet paper? It is true…a thankful person sees the good and God in things that many of us cannot. I want to be thankful.
3. Go for a walk.
Get outside and breathe some fresh air. Refill your lungs with some clean oxygen. Get your blood flowing. Use the body that God gave you to move. As much as I believe exercise is essential, I’m not talking about running a marathon or even starting an exercise program, although those are fabulous ideas. I mean just get out and get a fresh perspective. The routine-ness of our daily life, our family and our home can become overwhelming. We can become bogged down with the realities of life. When we are feeling like this, its hard to listen to God and to feel anything but fatigue. Walking gives you energy. It lifts your spirit. It releases endorphins in your body. There have been so many occasions that after a good walk outside, my attitude and thoughts on something have changed. So, get moving.
Recently I happened to glance at myself in the mirror while I was busy cleaning up the house and what I saw made me take a double take. I was frowning. And since that time, I have realized, I frown…a lot. Not because I’m grumpy or even mad, although I am sometimes, but because I think I’ve trained my face to look sad. Seriously. So if I want to be restored, I am intentionally focusing on smiling. And honestly, it feels weird. Try it. Stop right now and just smile. Come on…show some teeth. Weird, huh? But you felt better didn’t you? So did I. The more I smile, the lighter I feel. Don’t wait to smile until you’re happy; smile and you will feel happy.
5. Pray Scripture.
Why pray scripture? Sometimes when I’m feeling down and overwhelmed, or mad or frustrated at something, the last thing I want to do is pray or read my Bible. That is why praying scripture is so important. That is why memorizing scripture is so important. Or at the very least, having some index cards with your favorite scriptures on them so you can pull them out at the moment you feel like exploding. Psalm 46:10 … Lord, Please help me to be still. Help me to know right now that You are God. James 1:19…Lord, help me to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry right now when all I want to do is scream. Praying scripture is a cry for help to a God who loves to listen to us cry out to Him, to speak his Words of truth and who loves to pour out His love, grace and mercy into our broken lives.
And that is what we are…broken. Every one of us. But never beyond repair by the Only One who can restore our empty soul, our Comforter, our Healer and the Lord of our lives, Jesus Christ. Moms, sisters, daughters and friends, we cannot run our cups to empty and expect fulfillment. Doing these things is not a guarantee of life transformation, but quieting our hearts and come to the Lord as we are will prepare us to receive ALL that he has to offer. He alone will fill our cups, He will restore our souls. Trust me…you and your family will be so thankful you did.
As I begin to pursue intentional living, I am reminded that I am not only responsible for my own life. As the mother of three sweet, precious children, I am responsible for helping mold their character and their lives. What a huge responsibility! So, I started thinking about two questions that I need to answer. First, what strengths do I possess that I want to pass on to my children? And, second, what weaknesses do I struggle with that I would NOT want my children to inherit or learn from me? Whether I realize it or not, I am passing these traits on to my children. So here is my list and my intentional plan to either promote my strengths or change my weaknesses in order to help myself and my children become all that God intends.
- My strengths…
- Faith in Jesus….I will continue to build my relationship with Jesus. Daily. I will make reading God’s word a priority and I will let them see me reading and praying as much as possible.
- Love of reading…I will read to them daily and have books out around the house for them to access easily. I will stop what I’m doing (as much as possible) to read to them when they approach me with a book.
- Integrity…I will continue to make truth be of utmost importance.
- Love of learning…I will look for and provide them with many opportunities to learn. I will engage their curiosity and their natural enthusiasm for life.
- Mercy/compassion…I will show them compassion at all times and model that for them with others. I will love them unconditionally and empathize with their feelings.
- Optimism…I will look for and find the good in people in all circumstances. I will be thankful and content in all situations.
- Love being outside…I will take them to explore nature as much as possible and show them the beauty of God’s creation.
- Love to travel…We will travel with them to as many new places as possible, near and far, while we have the opportunity.
- Good listener…I will really listen to my children as much as possible. I especially will look at them and get to their level when they speak to me.
- Good encourager…I will encourage them in all things. I will build them up with life-giving words. I will speak truth and encourage them to trust God.
- My weaknesses…
- Fear…I will trust God in all things, at all times. I will teach them that with God, we need never to be afraid.
- Worry…I will work on praying instead of wrestling with worry. I will grow in my prayer life, remembering to pray at all times.
- People pleaser…I will remember that the only person I need to please is God alone. He is my judge and my Lord.
- Disorganization…I will simplify as much as possible. I will work on following through with my tasks. God is a God of order, not chaos.
- Too serious sometimes…I will remember to laugh at myself and life. Stop and enjoy today and smile as much as possible.
- Stubborn/prideful..I will acknowledge God’s sovereignty and power in my life. Knowing how BIG God is, reminds me how small I am. Pray for humbleness.
- Judgmental…I will give the grace that I have been so freely given. I will daily remind myself where I have been delivered from. Praise Jesus!
Oh, Lord, this is who I want to become. This is who I want my children to become. Lord, in my own power and strength, I will never be able to master any of this. But it is through your grace and mercy that I have the opportunity to grow in these areas. It is because of your power and generosity that you allow me and my children to grow to become people of strong character. This is my prayer and my greatest desire…to become more like You. Thank you for loving me enough to want this for me too. Amen.