Mama Prayers Matter

By Becky Beresford

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Unanswered Prayers

The other night I was lying awake in my bed, listening to the steady fall of rain on my roof. I began to pray the same prayers, mainly revolving around my kids and upcoming writing deadlines. Except this time, I noticed the silence. As I whispered words out into the early morning void, the stillness in my house imitated a stillness I felt from God.

Why hadn’t He answered my persistent prayers? Why weren’t things changing? My oldest son was still suffering at school. Our home was still so chaotic. The preschoolers were still fighting and destroying my home. I wanted transformation. I was looking for answers. And I began to wonder if God was listening.

It’s such a common thing. So many days we mamas wonder if our prayers really matter. Do our repeated cries to heaven make it to the Father’s throne? Sometimes it seems unlikely. Maybe they got lost along the way or were put on hold because of the urgency of others. But the Bible tells us a different story.

Within the pages of Scripture, we see an eternal reality. We do not serve a limited God. He is fully capable of taking on the cares of the world, without rating our requests. Every detail of our lives is important to Him. I may not have heard my desired response from Jesus in those early morning hours, but I did sense something sweeter.

I felt He was near.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
— Isaiah 41:10 (NLT)

God is Here

Mama friend, Our God is HERE.

He is with us, in this moment, at this time. Whenever we feel discouraged or we doubt God’s kindness, we can remember this precious truth: Not only does God hear us, He listens to us.

There’s a big difference between hearing someone and listening to someone. Our anatomy allows us to hear things. Our hearts allow us to listen.

Listening requires understanding. It beckons true empathy and compels compassion. Our God is so good; He doesn’t simply hear us when we pray. He moves when we pray. He meets us where we are and draws us close into His arms. The Creator of the Universe, who holds the stars in the sky, also chooses to hold our hearts. He comforts us and reminds us of the victory at hand. As this truth resonates in our spirits, we begin to open our palms and give our concerns to Him. Suddenly we find that our prayers are not merely spoken words. They are a bridge that ushers us into the presence and provision of God.

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We have an extremely attentive Father. He wants us to lay it out there in all its messy glory. He can take it, and He asks for it. He wants us to release our worries and experience freedom from the heavy weight of burden. And even in the stillness, when the silence can wear us thin, we can rely on the character of a God who has shown up time and again for His people. It may look different than what we expected, but He never leaves us forsaken. He loves us. He is for us. He wants the best for our families and our kids. He is working all things together for good, even when we can’t see it—dare I say, especially when we can’t see it. He is moving mountains for His girls, and He promises our perseverance will be worth it in the end.

Take heart, dear mama. Your prayers matter. Keep on lifting them up to the King. And in the meantime, I’m going to lift you up to Him.

Dear Jesus,

Be near to my beautiful friend. Let her feel Your presence as she trusts You with the worries of her heart. Provide where provision is needed. Protect where protection is required. Let her know You are listening. Bless her with peace that surpasses all understanding and give her confidence in Your character. Above all, I pray she experiences Your love in a fresh, deep way today. May she know she is a difference-maker for the Kingdom, and her prayers are paving the way.

Amen.


Mama, You Are Not Enough

By Charaia Callabrass

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The Myth That You Are Enough

In today’s Instagram self-help culture, we are constantly surrounded by this empowering narrative that says, “mama, you are enough.” For the longest time, I draped this affirmation over my shoulders. I wore it on my good days and my “alright” days. But it was on the tough days; the days when my motherhood seems to fall short at every instance that this “clock of affirmation” didn’t fit the same. 

It’s on those hard days that being enough was a shadow of the truth of the Gospel. As well-intentioned as this saying is, it makes no way for the redeeming power of Grace to work in the midst of my broken displays of motherhood. When we forget to turn in our child’s permission slip or our toddler throws a fit in the middle of Target, we’re told don’t give up, you are strong enough for this thing called motherhood—you can do this. 

And as encouraging as these well-intentioned statements can be, are they truly the Gospel’s answers to the trials we face as a mother? My husband has been gone for almost six months now for his job. During this season of solo-parenting, I’ve wanted to believe that I was enough. But at the end of each day, this self-proclaimed title of being enough left no room for Jesus. And Jesus was who I desperately needed. 

Boasting in Your Weaknesses

Being weak and inadequate is not a popular way of thinking. We would rather be the “super mom” or the “boss mom” that doesn’t need help and is always enough for her children, whatever season we’re in. While the Bible doesn’t want to take away our worth and who we’ve been created to be as mothers, the Gospel calls us to a deeper understanding of how much we need Jesus in every area of our life. With Christ, we acknowledge where we are flawed, and through Him, we come into the fullness of the mother He’s called us to be.

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
— Colossians 2:9-10

Paul makes it a point to boast in his weakness. He’s discovered a grace that makes him want to brag about being weak. 

When is the last time you bragged about being weak? When is the last time you bragged about not cooking dinner and going through the drive-through? Or letting your laundry pile up on the couch all week? Or using a harsh tone with your kids when they just won’t go to bed? As obscure as these questions may feel, the more significant point is that when we brag about our weakness, we allow the strength of Christ to rest upon us. If not being enough means we can make room for more of Jesus, why wouldn’t we boast in that? 

So mama, the next time you feel like you’re not enough, do not try to muster up the strength to be more or do more. In your weakness rest in these truths: 

  • That when you wake up and diligently serve your children, God promises to crown your efforts with success (Proverbs 3:6).

  • That as you discipline and direct your children, God promises to gently lead you (Isaiah 40:11).

  • That when your days are full with more to-dos than time, God promises that his power has given you everything you need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3)

  • And when you fall short and mess up as a mother, you don’t have to beat yourself up because you can go to the One who redeems your mistakes and grants you the grace to move on (Psalm 103:12).

More Than You Can Handle

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Life has a way of giving us more than we can handle. And in these seasons, when you want to muster up the strength to be all that life’s seems to be requiring of you, may you be reminded your need for Him. When you truly understand that in your strength, you are not enough, you position yourself to dig into the riches of His word and pull out truths. And as you whisper, “I can’t do this,” He replies, “I know child, but I can.”

There is freedom in leaning into God. The Gospel doesn’t just save you, mama, it sustains you. And your weakness makes room for the Father to graciously let His power bring your motherhood into fullness. So the next time you find yourself leaning over a sink of dishes, telling yourself that you are enough, throw up your hands. And in that freedom let your spirit rejoice in not being enough, letting the Gospel do its work!


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Chararai Callabrass is a mother and wife living in Colorado Springs, Co. She is also a writer, photographer, and host of the Unbow Your Head podcast. This show is a space for those who have felt the need to bow to various standards in life. Charaia’s desire is that the conversations that take place on each episode encourage the freedom to Unbow Your Head. You can find her online at www.charaicallabrass.com or on Instagram.


Bye, Bye Bipolar Birdie

By Shannon Toller

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Finding Help and Hope

I’m in the painful process of lengthening my short fuse, while simultaneously putting out the constantly-burning brush fire in my heart and mind. It’s a delicate dance of putting out just enough heat to cook something but not so much that your dinner gets incinerated. It’s one of the hardest things I have ever had to overcome, but I know that when I do, Jesus will be meeting me on the other side. Yes, this might be a life-long battle with the darkness and the voices in my head, but I am not fighting these enemies alone. I have Jesus with me, behind me, and before me.

Writing well means writing about what you know. So, here it goes. Here’s what your resident faith blogger knows. I know that I have been an angry, anxiety-ridden bird for a while now.

I turn Hulk-green on a dime, and I yell at the top of my lungs for my kids to stop screaming in the house. I’m a work in progress, obviously. But, up until about a month or so ago, I was wondering why instead of getting better, I started getting worse. My fuse was non-existent. Self-control was nowhere in sight. My kids were crying, my husband was disappointed, my Spirit was shot. I was heading down a wrong-way road, headed nowhere good, at about 100 mph.

I saw a few Christian counselors, but thoughts and prayers only go so far when you are struggling with mental illness. I figured out, rather quickly, that I was going to need more than just a willing ear. I was going to need medical intervention, and I was most definitely going to need a diagnosis. I couldn’t just be “hormonal” or “crazy” for the rest of my life. I needed to know, without a shadow of a doubt, why I flew off the handle so quickly and why I succumbed to a puddle of tears afterward. I needed more concrete answers than “You’re just tired” or “Maybe you could just pray it away.”

After more than thirty years on this big, blue planet, I finally swallowed my pride and saw a psychiatrist. I was shaking like a leaf, sweating like a pig, and sick to my stomach. This must mean something is about to break through, I thought. Maybe I will finally find the “me” that has been hiding away for so long. I had this awful thought that maybe my psychiatrist would think I was nuts and wouldn’t prescribe me medicine or give me that dreaded diagnosis. Maybe he would look at me and think, “Okay, this girl is as normal as they come. Why is she here?”

But he didn’t. After thirty rotations around the Sun, I finally have the diagnosis. Bipolar 2 disorder.

Bipolar Christian

Yep, I’m full-on bipolar. The highs and the lows and the racetrack frequency of the two make complete sense now. The days when I would run on an hour of sleep and a handle of tequila, followed by the weeks of not leaving my bed or taking showers. The immense feelings of love and excitement when I would make a friend, followed by the soul-eating guilt that would envelop me when a text or call would go unanswered. The flirtatious girl who could get at least ten numbers a night at a club usually turned into an inebriated mess who couldn’t walk a straight line. The girlfriend who was so cool one minute, and a stage five clinger the next. The mother who could play Barbies and sing princess songs by day, and completely shatter little dreams and hearts by night.

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For the first time in my life, I feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It doesn’t seem like a life sentence anymore. Jesus is on the parole board.

Satan and his schemers want you (and me) to hide in our pain and our anguish. Satan craves suicide, self-harm, and anything we can do to ourselves that he doesn’t have to waste precious resources on. 

The enemy cannot tell the truth: he can only lie. So, when you hear the voices in your head calling you worthless, stupid, damaged goods—feel free to shut that voice up with the power of Scripture. God calls you fearfully and wonderfully made, and He set you apart to carry out good works for His Kingdom. He wouldn’t have done that if you were worthless. 

The enemy cannot give, he can only steal. If you think you are getting a better bargain from the used-car salesman, Satan, you are sorely mistaken. The devil’s dealership only sells lemons and no warranties. He is a swindler and a snake. 

The enemy cannot spread life, he can only kill. Satan can’t promise you the goodness of God, but he can trick you into eating an apple that has magic God-powers. 

Satan is a manipulator. God is a masterpiece maker.

The biggest lie the enemy has told my generation is that you don’t need Jesus to get to heaven. Just do it on your own, Satan lies. You don’t need anyone but yourself, Satan manipulates. The world would be better off without you, Satan seeks to destroy you. But, take heart, sweet friend! If you were just a mediocre person, living a dull and mediocre life, then why are you causing such a ruckus in the heavenly realms? 

You were made for a reason, dear one. And it isn’t to hide under a rock until the bullets stop flying. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

And when the tough cannot take it one more day, they call a trusted professional who can help lift them by their shoulders. When the tough cannot take one more step, Jesus steps in to carry you the rest of the way. When you think you cannot make it one more day, Jesus reminds us that joy comes in the morning. You’ve got this, friend. He will never leave you, nor forsake you. And that includes in your mental illness. God is going to be glorified in this, and nothing you have gone through will be wasted in the Kingdom of Heaven.

So, friend, keep going. This world needs you.


Wrestling With Tragedy

By Joy O’Neal

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TRAGEDY STRIKES THE HEART

The school year is off and running. Homework, packing lunches, wardrobe debates, and studying for spelling test have become my daily activities. Its week five and my heart is already aching for a slower pace. During the school year, it seems like the weeks fly by, and it's Friday on top of Friday. As a mom, I find myself searching the weeks wondering if we ever sat down as a family and really had conversations. 

Confession moment: my kids and I ordered out every night this past week. My husband is currently on a business trip to Japan and GrubHub was the only way I managed to survive.

When did our lives become so busy? While I was reflecting and whining about the mundane, my life was brought into perspective by the passing of my partner teacher's husband. An unexpected tragic death of a sweet husband and father. 

The homework, packing lunches, wardrobe debates, and studying didn't seem so important in the face of eternity. I felt my heart begin to shift around the importance of kingdom purposes. Although I've heard it many times throughout scripture, my heart was fully embracing the meaning of James 4:14 when he calls life a vapor.

Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

WHY SUFFERING?

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Like many of us do in times of tragedy, I began to ask God the hard questions. Where I found myself is what I wanted to share with each one of your sweet mama hearts today.

Why does my soul see such goodness in You when my flesh sees confusion?

How does my spirit continually utter words of Your praise when my flesh cant even manage to form a sentence?

What is this overwhelming faithfulness that swims over my soul at the single mention of Your sacrifice?

There must only be one answer- I am truly me when I am fully Yours.

We serve a full God even from empty hearts.

TRAGEDY AND HOPE

These little heart questions to my Creator landed just as the Holy Spirit intended. He is in the midst of it all! Even when tragedy strikes or life begins to feel like someone cranked up the treadmill to an uncontrollable speed, our God is GOOD! 

Pause your mama heart today and reflect on the things eternal. Have a real 2 Corinthians 4:18 moment over your day, week, and year. 

As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Even if like me you made a new best friend in the GrubHub delivery girl this past week, praise God for the eternal things!  

If you need a B12 shot for your soul, then run over to YouTube and pull up Most Beautiful/So In Love (feat. Chandler Moore) that Maverick City Music released this past week. 


Reflection Collection

By Lindsay Dryer

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A Valuable Lesson From Paw Patrol

I have to believe I’m not the only mom who sometimes feels like Paw Patrol is the soundtrack of my life. I’m not even a huge fan of my kids watching a lot of tv, but if it’s on, there’s a 90% chance Paw Patrol is playing. My kids love it so much that I finally got smart and set the DVR to record every episode of the show so it would be available anytime I need 25 minutes of quiet kids on the couch. C’mon. You know what I’m talking about.

Last night before bed, the kids requested “just one episode” of Paw Patrol, and so I sat on the floor folding mounds of tiny laundry and listening to the narrative of another grand rescue by those brave pups. Except, two minutes into the episode, I realized it was the one…the one that drives me absolutely CRAZY.

In this episode, there’s a villain named Lady Bird who loves all things shiny. Throughout the episode, she is on the hunt for anything that shines, and she steals it as her own to put in a lair of sorts. (Honestly, it kind of reminds me of that show Hoarders, but that’s a different issue.) She calls this shiny stash her “reflection collection.”

I never thought the Holy Spirit would speak to me through a Nick Jr. show, but He is pretty creative, so I guess I’m not surprised! As I was cringing listening to Lady Bird’s annoying voice, those two words hit me like a ton of bricks. Reflection collection. She is so obsessed with herself that she spends her days collecting items that will allow her to stare at her own reflection. All at the expense of other people.

Do you have a reflection collection, Lindsay? I love the way He prods so gently to get my mind thinking and my heart stirring.

I began thinking of what this “reflection collection” might look like in real life for a person like me. No, I’m not running around town stealing shiny things from innocent bystanders (thank goodness!), but is my life a collection of moments that are focused inward?

Let me just be really transparent with you for a moment: 

  • When I’m frustrated because my kids are fighting with each other for the 99th time in three hours, is it because I want them to be best friends and I want them to show the love of Jesus to one another? Highly doubt it. It’s most likely because they’re driving me crazy, and I don’t want to hear their arguing anymore, and I’m trying to get something done, so they need to stop.

  • When I’m scrolling through social media, and I see something that strikes a jealousy cord in my heart, is it because I want the best for my friend and I’m celebrating with her? Of course not! It’s because I feel like I’m missing out or that I deserve more than what I already have.

  • When there are challenging circumstances in my life and I begin to cower in fear, is it because I’m placing my full trust in Jesus? Absolutely not. It’s because I’m considering my own strength instead of His.

INWARD OR UPWARD?

I’m realizing that so often we are faced with the option to either look inward at our own reflection or look upward to Christ. Sometimes we don’t even make the wrong decision out of selfish or impure motives. I think sometimes we just get so lost in our own navel-gazing that we forget to look up.  

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We’re encouraged in Hebrews 12:2 to “fix our eyes on Jesus.” In the Greek, that literally means to turn your eyes away from other things and fix them on something (in this case, Jesus). It’s really easy to walk through life focused on ourselves, but it takes intentionality to focus our attention on Christ.

I don’t know what this looks like for you in your current season of life. It might mean fixing your gaze on Christ while the chaos of life feels too much for you to carry alone. It might mean holding on to hope when you receive devastating news from the doctor. It might mean literally taking your eyes off things that are causing you to focus inward (social media, tv, etc.).

All I know is that there is only One who is worthy of a reflection collection. Only One who can stand to have every eye fixed on Him. Only One who won’t crumble under the weight of our attention. Only One whose reflection can change our hearts and lives. That’s Jesus.


Do Your Words Bring Life or Death?

By Brittany Rust

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The Power of Your Words

When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.
— Proverbs 31:26

God has been working in me the power of the tongue. How our words have the ability to bring life or death (Prov. 18:21). That we should be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19). Taming the tongue is truly one of the hardest things to master in this world. And Scripture points to the destruction it can bring in your life.

  • A cutting remark to your spouse.

  • A frustrated snap towards your children.

  • A little gossip with your friends.

  • A co-workers idea shot down without empathy.

  • The negative self-talk about your worth.

  • Words doubting God’s goodness in a trial.

If you were to truly take an inventory of your words today, how would you fair?

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It’s amazing how much negative talk you might see once you take an honest evaluation of your words—internal and external.

Are your words bringing death or life to yourself, your family, your community, and your communication with God?

I just want to pause right here and dig a little deeper, practically. And I only share what I’ve wrestled with. Our children are so impressionable and vulnerable. How we speak to them—whether verbal or nonverbal—deeply effects them. Perhaps in ways we might now notice until they’re older. 

I’ve been reading No Drama Discipline and the authors go in-depth about the child’s brain and the large impacts our small choices can make. How you treat your child now will form them into the adult they become.

Think about your words, or even your gestures, towards your child(ren). Are they bringing life or are they tearing down your little one? It’s important that the positive significantly outweighs the negative—as much as 9 positive for every 1 negative. This isn’t easy, which means it will require being on and intentional each and every day. 

James 3 says,

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?

Bringing Life in Your Words

You won’t master perfect life-giving language this side of heaven but mixing positive and negative talk should be limited as much as possible. And that will take hard work.

  • It will require getting His Word in you as much as possible.

  • It will mean pausing before you speak.

  • It will require intentionality and perseverance.

But if you will pursue righteous language, I firmly believe one can overwhelmingly abide in your life.

It also says in James 3 that the tongue cannot be tamed by a human. But that’s human limitation because with God, anything is possible. Turn your language over to Him. Invite the Holy Spirit to empower you to speak life, not death. To lift up and encourage; not tear down. To talk about the holiness of God rather than spread doubt in His ability. “Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift” Ephesians 4:29.

Take this to heart today and evaluate your language. Are your words bringing life or death?


Three Practical Ways to Combat Mom Guilt

By Lindsey Racz

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My daughter just asked if she could have some of my sparkling water. You know, the one thing I splurge on for myself at the grocery store so that I can have a treat once a day minus the sugar.

“No, honey…you know this is the sparkling water that you always ask for and never finish because you really don’t like it,” I whine without any level of maturity or authority.

A running commentary begins in my head, reminding me that it’s true—she doesn’t even like it. Besides, she has milk and juice and ice-cream and everything good that her little heart could desire because she’s a child and can eat whatever she wants with no concern for caloric intake, so I shouldn’t feel guilty for saying no. But then that other voice chimes in: “You’re so selfish...way to teach your child to share. Nice modeling, there, mom.” The mom guilt has me again. Please tell me I’m not the only one.

I find myself at least knee-deep in mom guilt multiple times a day. One of my precious and energy-sucking blessings asks me to play. Or to read. Or to buy them something. Or they ask me nothing at all, and my brain is still chattering away about how I should be doing more.

Never mind that we already had a morning walk together, got ice-cream last night, and rented three movies this week. We read devotionals each night before bedtime. I give darn good hugs in the morning. I try very hard as a mom, but it seems whatever I do, it’s never enough for my kids. They always want more (of me) than I have to give.  Or, light-bulb moment, perhaps I am the one for whom it’s never enough.

Mom-guilt is a poor motivator and makes me parent from a place of weakness. If you’re anything like me, you are looking for some practical ways to knock your guilt-o-meter down a few notches as well.

Thankfully, that’s where my job as a therapist comes in handy. It’s not always easy to practice what I preach, but it’s time I take my own advice. The following are a few practical tips to help avoid the guilt-based parenting trap.

1.    Identify the source of your guilt.  

I don’t know when my guilt began. It could have been the birth of my second child. Or my third. Suddenly my time was divided beyond what I thought possible. My love multiplied with the birth of each new child. My time, however, did not.

Any of those sweet additions could have been born alongside guilt, but circumstances alone don’t maintain a mindset. Mindsets are ingrained and maintained through a constant. When constant arrows of “not enough” fly our way, we can be sure they are coming from the same source.

I’m not giving enough time. Not doing enough. Not being patient enough. Not “letting them be little” enough. It’s clear that I’m NOT ENOUGH.

There it is. Once the guilt is whittled down to its moment of origin, I recognize it. I recognize him. The Wizard of Oz who pretends to be all-knowing while standing behind a curtain and magnifying his make-believe power. The enemy. Darkened by shadows, hiding in the recesses of my life, reminding me I’m not enough. He causes guilt. Fear. Sadness. He causes us to parent from weakness. He is not conviction; he is shame. Thankfully, his power dwindles after exposure to light. Identifying this source of unhealthy guilt is vital in ridding our lives of it. 

 

2. Don’t be manipulated.

My personal guilt cup runneth over with any and every “no” I utter. Okay, it certainly doesn’t help that my brilliant nine-year-old has caught on to my tendency to parent out of guilt and now makes guilt-inducing facial expressions the moment the word “no” enters my brain. “But mooooom,” she whines, “we haven’t gotten to bake cupcakes together ever in the history of my entire life.”

How sad. I think. How terribly and painfully sad. I really must be a terrible parent. Wait a minute. Usually, by the time I catch the manipulation, I’m already drowning in a pool of shame. My life raft is to grab a little truth. I grasp for air and remind my child of the good things we’ve done. And bonus, it’s a teachable moment as I remind her of what God’s word says in Philippians 4:8,

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.

Reminding our kids of the good we’ve done together—indeed, just earlier that day—can put a cold, hard stop to that sad little frowny face. Kids can be extremely manipulative. They aren’t evil; they are following the natural order of development. Part of development involves observing and exploring how their actions impact the world around them. Who can blame them for taking note that a particular look gets them that specific toy they want? It’s our job as parents to teach that manipulation does NOT lead to their desired outcome, instead of vice versa. 

3.  Avoid the comparison trap.

Seriously. Look at these Pinterest moms up in here! They’ve been to Target to buy their kids new wardrobes, stopped for a quick vacation to Disney World on the way home, and painted each child’s room a personalized color with sparkles all before 9:00 am on a Monday. Guess what? I’m not one of them.

If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a million times: comparison IS the thief of joy! No one’s life is as amazing as it looks from the outside because everyone, and I do mean every single body, has issues. That amazing mom down the street that looks like she has it all together? She’s probably guilt-momming her way to exhaustion as we speak. That one lady at our church who always wears the sweetest and most patient expression while talking with her children? She has a cussing problem behind closed doors.

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There is simply no use in comparing our mothering skills to those around us—things are never really what they seem. Instead of comparing ourselves with others, let’s pray for wisdom from the only parent who gets it right every time: God, the Father.

I actually am enough, thank you very much. My kids are fed. They are sometimes clean. They are safe. They are most definitely loved. I am not always the fun mom. I’m the mom who is trying to be better, but okay with right where I am. I’m the mom who accepts that I went crazy psycho mom earlier this morning because someone had an attitude, but I apologized and modeled my need for Jesus. Today, I’m the mom who is dumping my mom-guilt next to the pile of lint dust that falls out of the dryer each time I empty the trap. Breathe in, exhale, and say it with me: I’m a good mom.  


Self Care: Selfish or Scriptural

By Shannon Toller

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It’s not a secret to anyone that knows me that I love a good self-help book. I like to paint my nails and put headphones in when the girls go to sleep. I cherish drinking a hot cup of coffee, and I may even like it when my taste buds get burned off with that first gulp. But, when it comes to the “self-care movement” of today, I feel like Sandra Bullock before she turns into Gracie Lou Freebush.

I’m all about a mani/pedi day with my girlfriends, followed by lunch and a movie. Except for the tiny baby hiccup that I just don’t have the time for that anymore. I am a stay at home mama to three girls under six, and it’s summertime to boot, so I am using all my God-given energy to figure out new ways to eat turkey sandwiches. I don’t have time (or money) to pay a sitter and take a “me day.” Quite honestly, I don’t even know if I would enjoy a day at the spa at this season of life; I wouldn’t be able to relax because I'd be too worried that the kids lit the house on fire. My head would be filled with more thoughts like, “I should have bought that baby-cam," instead of ideas of Namaste and chill. So instead of working myself into an anxiety spiral at a day spa, I find solace in my time with Jesus.

True Self Care

Jesus Christ and my relationship with Him is MY self-care.

I’m not sure if you knew this or not, but our Lord and Savior practiced self-care. Remember in the gospel of Mark when Jesus told his followers that there are two commandments to follow in their relationship with Him:

Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul and love your neighbor as yourself.
— Luke 10:27

Right here in Scripture, Jesus implores us to take care of our friends and neighbors the way we take care of ourselves. We wouldn’t offer our friends the bare minimum: the scraps of food we eat off our kids’ plates at dinner time, or the five-minute bathroom timeout we so desperately need in our mothering journey. We would roll out the red carpet for a friend who was celebrating and break out the tissues and chocolate for the friend who was grieving. We would break out the best china, the best cheese and crackers, and we would fill their cups. We would pray with them, cry with them, and laugh with them. We wouldn’t guilt them into doing “more” or “less.” We would simply be with them. Just like Jesus simply is with us.

Jesus practiced self-care when He took time away from the crowds and the congregations to spend quiet time with the Father. He never had a big prayer session in the middle of a marketplace. He went to the most secluded of places, simply so He could hear what His Father was speaking to him. He never tried to do it himself or put on a façade. When Jesus was scared and reluctant to be beaten, bloodied, and crucified on a rugged cross for our sins, he literally sweat blood. He was as human as is humanly possible, without all of that silly sin stuff.

Jesus never forsook the fellowship. He was always available to his friends and family, but He still knew when the time for prayer and solitude was on the horizon. Like Jesus, we need to remind ourselves that sometimes “self-care” isn’t a spa day: it’s the solitude of reflection and prayer. But in this world of “hustle this” and “hustle that” and “hustle until you’re dead,” being still and quiet and open to the movement of the Holy Spirit is the most counter-cultural thing you could do in 2019.

C.S. Lewis says it best: “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

Redefining Self Care

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Spa days and comfy leggings and tubs of ice cream are fun and enjoyable. But when you are choosing them over Jesus, that’s when life starts to fall apart. When you focus too much on yourself and your “self-care,” you are neglecting one of the most important commandments in the Bible: Everyone should look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)

Yes, we need to take care of ourselves. Us mamas need to get a shower in more than once a week. We need to wear our hair down instead of defaulting to the “mom-bun.” But, if we are neglecting our families and friends for the sake of self-care, then I think we are all missing the point.

Being a young mama isn’t for the faint of heart, especially in 2019. We need to be kind to ourselves and extend that good, good grace God extends to us. We need to get sound sleep each day. Contrary to popular belief, I cannot run on coffee, and I’m betting you can’t either. We need healthy, nutritious diets to fuel our adventures in motherhood. We need to get out the stroller and take a walk with the kids. We need to play at the park and swing on the swing set. We need to dance in the kitchen with our husbands, and we most definitely need to make out with our husband in front of our children. They need to see love and stability, just as much, if not more than we do. We need to go to the doctor when we aren’t feeling well. We need to ask for help when we are drowning in sorrow and depression and laundry.

Most importantly, we need to rely on Jesus and our relationship with Him. Not just because He is our heavenly Father and our Savior, but because He is our friend. The friend who sacrificed himself for a punishment we so rightfully deserved is a prayer away. The Holy Spirit that rose Jesus from the grave lives in you. How’s that for “self-care” in your daily life?