Dear Mother Who Puts Herself Last: Guest Writer Angela Jamison

I see you in the grocery store, hurrying along at 9 pm. I can imagine the thoughts running through your head from how you just want to be in bed to how badly your feet hurt because you’re not sure if you’ve sat down all day.

I see you in the doctor’s office massaging your temples, wondering if this headache will ever go away. Wondering if uninterrupted sleep will ever be something you get again.

I see you in the restaurant, trying to enjoy the beauty of not having to cook or clean up, but worried about the mess nonetheless.

I see you. I am you.

I, too, am a mother who puts herself last.

Although it was my deepest desire to be a mother, I didn’t anticipate losing myself in the process. I didn’t anticipate some of my favorite things becoming foreign or dreams disappearing with diapers.

I had no idea my deepest wish would be my greatest joy and my hardest trial in equal parts.

I bet you had no idea either.

I’d imagine your children are your world, the most important piece of your existence, but let me let you in on a powerful truth … you’re important too!

We can not be effective mothers if we lose ourselves, always putting ourselves last. When you take care of you, you’re teaching a far more powerful lessons than when you run yourself to empty.

We can not be effective mothers if we lose ourselves, always putting ourselves last. Click To Tweet

Those dreams that disappeared with the diapers, rekindle them. Your children need to see you have a passion and work toward it. Some of the best encouragement in the world comes from children! Allow them to enrich the path to your dreams instead of being a roadblock.

That nap you skipped because there were bottles to wash, laundry to fold and floors to vacuum, take it next time. Your health is imperative to healthy kids. When you are healthy, you are happier and when you are happier, your children are happier. Take the rest and allow your children to see you slow down. In a “go go go” world, our children need to know it’s ok to take a break.

Putting yourself last seems to be in the unwritten motherhood handbook. I’m tearing that page out and so should you! Our children may be our world, but the more powerful truth is – we are theirs.

Take care of your children’s world, you, by moving up in line. As mothers, we’ll never be good at putting ourselves first, but we can happily fall somewhere in the middle.

We are more important than being last.

Sincerely,

A Mother Moving Up in Line

Angela Jamison is a mother of four and works with young children as the director of a Christian preschool. After struggling with infertility, she and her husband entered the world of foster care where they have been overwhelmed exploring the path laid before them by the most perfect Father. When she is not entertaining children, Angela loves to read, write, and connect with mothers and parents to encourage and reiterate God’s design for the toughest job on earth. To learn more about Angela, visit her webpage at http://www.angelajamison.com or follow her on Twitter, @AngJamison04.

God’s Faithfulness Awaits our Surrender

PixabayDear friends, as you to read this catch up post, I hope you will understand my sporadic posts over the past several months.

One year ago, we listed our home for sale. The sell of our beloved home of fifteen years was necessary since my diagnosis of the rare chronic illness Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis.  By May of 2017, we had no offers on our home forcing us to make alternate plans.  Seeking God’s face for what to do next, we advertised our lakefront home on the Vacation Rent by Owners website.  To our surprise, bookings flooded our inbox.

God’s faithfulness awaits our surrender.

I cried, no I wailed.

I wailed over my chronic illness, the loss of my job, and our circumstances. I cried over God’s abundant blessings in the form of multiple bookings.

My parents offered for our family to live with them as long as necessary. Our family of four and two Jack Russell terriers moved in with my semi-retired parents and their cat. Oh, the stories I could tell about the cat and dog antics and the kids learning to plant, harvest, and can garden crops.

Our plan was to stay with my parents for the summer and move back into our home before school started. Chris and I calculated God provided enough bookings to pay the mortgage for the next year. God is faithful!

Unbeknownst to us, the Pharisees next door were circling their prey. Our lake neighbors, who we called friends for over fifteen years, were angry with us for renting our home. Not one, but three sets of neighbors whom we had shared many meals together and whom Chris had repaired their homes, cars, and welded numerous items betrayed us during our greatest need for compassion. At the height of our stress, we were mocked, cussed, and utterly double-crossed by people we once respected and admired.

The stress of their Judas kiss flared my illness. I suffered multiple physical attacks of paralysis and severe muscle weakness.  In July, I told Chris, “I cannot move back home. The stress on my body is too much and I can’t live there and face their betrayal.” Chris agreed and he immediately called a realtor. Within twelve days of re-listing our home, God delivered two competing full-price offers.

God’s faithfulness awaits our surrender. Click To Tweet

It was extremely humbling to rent our home to stay afloat. But God sees and He takes care of His children. In September, we sold our home to a family who loved our home from the first time it was on the market. Behind the scenes, they were rearranging their finances to purchase our home. God’s hand was active even when we could not see the movement.  (I have much more to add to this in another post).

In October, we purchased our new home. We moved from the rural countryside to the suburbs. For the first time 2001, we have a flat yard, high-speed internet, curbside trash pick up, and pizza delivery! Our home is one-level with an unfinished basement. Chris is already dreaming what to build next. We are thirty minutes closer to Chris’ work and closer to medical care and assistance for me.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is the trail-head to a 3-mile walking trail, which meanders though our neighborhood.  Earlier this week, Chris and I walked a small portion of the trail. Crossing the footbridge over a babbling creek, the trail opens up to a hidden park with two base/softball fields. Turning to Chris, I mentioned, “Rachel will love this!” We continued along the trail, ducking into a tunnel under the main road.  A crimson country convenient store emerged into view as we exited the tunnel. Chris purchased a Dr. Pepper and pastry for himself and a coffee for me. Hand-in-hand we walked home basking in God’s faithfulness.

My unexpected diagnosis shook and disrupted our comfortable life. Like a child shaking her piggy bank, eager to grasp the last quarter, I too tried to hold onto things I called MINE.  With clinched fists, I selfishly tried to hang onto my career (until my illness was too severe), my security (until I no longer brought home a paycheck), my health (until paralysis and muscle weakness mocked me), and my identity. Finally, I surrendered control.

One of my favorite stories from the New Testament is when Jesus caught a multitude of fish. Simon Peter and his fishing companions were out all night and caught nothing. As they were washing their nets, Jesus was preaching to a crowd on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. As the crowd grew, Jesus stepped into Simon Peter’s boat to teach from the water. When Jesus was finished preaching He asked Simon Peter, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch. Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets” (Luke 5:4-5). Simon Peter surrendered control and God’s great faithfulness (in the form of fish) caused the boat to sink. Simon Peter signaled for his fishing companions to come help. This fishing crew was eyewitnesses to the miraculous power and faithfulness of God.  They surrendered their occupation and life to become Jesus’

Pixabay

first disciples.  They “left everything and followed Him” (Luke 5:11).

God is faithful. God’s faithfulness is one of the many character traits that define Him.  Even when we are not faithful to acknowledge Him,

He is faithful and longsuffering towards His children. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:15). Paul also writes, “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Perhaps your life has been turned upside down by unforeseen circumstances, trauma, a prodigal child, broken relationships, and loss. Me too. Trust me when I say, God’s faithfulness awaits our surrender.  Pry open your fists and invite God to take control and watch as His faithfulness floods your life.

~April Dawn White

©2017 All Rights Reserved.

Stuck at 9: Cultivate a Grateful Heart

I ran across this old post from 2012. I polished the writing and sharing it with you today. While over five and a half years have passed since I wrote this article, the message of cultivating a grateful heart is timeless. Our son is now a freshman in high school and only a few months away from turning fifteen. This is a good excuse to brew another pot of coffee and take a moment with me. Enjoy. ~April

February 7, 2012

Today is our son’s 9th birthday! Although he has a small party planned with his friends in a few days, we wanted to do something special for him, on his birthday. Unfortunately, skating, bowling, and even the local arcade were closed. Oh the dilemma of having a birthday, on a Tuesday, in a small town, during the winter.

Fortunately, Dairy Queen was open and we savored our favorite ice cream. To the kids surprise the DQ had a video game corner. The money disappeared as quickly as the ice cream.Taste and see the Lord is god

The birthday boy shifted his weight with excitement and eagerly asked, “Can I have more money?”

“I don’t have anymore more money for games,” replied his father.

Suddenly the eagerness disappeared, the meltdown began, and I’m not referring to my mint chocolate chip ice cream. Instantly, it did not matter to the birthday boy that he already tore open his family gifts at dinner, nor did it matter that a party with his friends is scheduled in a few days.

What mattered was his ungrateful attitude.

 “In everything give thanks, for it is the will of Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

In a moment of frustration, the husband blasted, “That’s it you can forget about having a 10th birthday!”

At home, the birthday boy quietly sobbed.  Wrapping my arms around his tiny frame, I whispered, “What’s wrong?”

“Momma, I don’t want to be stuck at 9!”

As I rocked the birthday boy in my arms and my mind wandered.

“Heavenly Father, is this how you feel when we are ungrateful for all you have given us? Does our ungratefulness cause us to be stuck where we are?”

I believe it does.

I continued to rock the birthday boy. I explained if he chooses to be ungrateful, than he chooses to miss the blessings God has to give. We prayed, “Forgive me Lord, if I’ve been unappreciative, ungrateful, or possess a “Me, me, me” attitude. Amen.”

~April Dawn White © 2012

6 Ways to Prepare for the Unexpected Test

Rachel flipped through her stack of vocabulary note cards. Tucking her legs crisscross applesauce style, she moaned, “Mom, can you email the teacher and ask what the test will be like?”

“Nope.”

“Please,” she begged.

“Rachel, I could contact the teacher but you need to know this information backwards and forwards.  If you know you will only be given a multiple choice test, you will only study to recognize the answer. You need to know this information inside and out. You need to be prepared no matter how you are tested.”

As soon as I uttered that last sentence, the Holy Spirit nudged me. I did not feel a tangible nudge, but rather a nudge in my spirit. You need to be prepared no matter how you are tested, echoed my words. Where those really my words to begin with or did the Holy Spirit plant those words in my mind to speak to Rachel? Either way, those words penetrated my soul with a deeper significance than my daughter’s upcoming vocabulary test.

Are you ready for your test?

The fact is each one of us will face a test in life. Sometimes we have ample time to prepare such as preparing to launch young adults to college or transitioning aging parents into an assisted living facility.

Other times, tests strike like a bolt of lightening leaving us blindsided and dazed. Caught off guard, these pop quizzes feel more significant. Unexpected health diagnoses, the death of a loved one, an accident, separation, or job loss are weighty pop quizzes.

You need to be prepared no matter how you are tested Click To Tweet

Pencils ready.

Unexpected tests are inevitable. The good news is God’s Word gives us detailed instruction on how to prepare for the tests and pop quizzes of life.

I am not a theologian or Bible scholar. I am a Christ follower who has survived the tests of a miscarriage, depression, a strong-willed child, betrayal, and most recently an unexpected health diagnosis resulting in an invisible chronic illness, the loss of my job and our beloved home.  I do not pretend to have all the answers but by remaining rooted in these six areas have helped me (and my family) through our tests and crisis of faith.

6 Ways to Prepare for the Unexpected Test:

  1. Seek: “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” 1 Chronicles 16:11
  2. Abide/ Remain: “Remain in me, as I remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4
  3. Surrender: “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Mark 8:35
  4. Obey: “You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words.” Psalm 119:57
  5. Trust:“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3
  6. Pray:“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

Extra Credit

If you want to dig deeper into God’s Word read the following verses for extra credit.

  1. Seek: Jeremiah 29:13, Deuteronomy 4:9, Psalm 27:4, Psalm 119:2, Isaiah 55:6, Lamentations 3:25, Hebrews 11:6, and Matthew 7:7
  2. Abide/Remain: Exodus 33:14, Psalm 92:12-15, 2 Corinthians 5:7, John 16:33, John 15:7-10
  3. Surrender: Isaiah 64:8, Psalm 37:7, Mark 10:28, Matthew 16:24-25, Galatians 2:20, Romans 12:1
  4. Obey: Luke 11:28 Psalm 119:88, 168, Ecclesiastes 8:5, Matthew 8:27, John 14:23-24, Romans 2:13
  5. Trust: Hebrews 6:19, Psalm 20:7, Isaiah 26:3, Proverbs 3:5, Psalm 37:3, Psalm 44:6-7, Jeremiah 17:7, Isaiah 26:4
  6. Pray: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Matthew 6:6-9, Matthew 5:44, Matthew 26:41, Luke 22:40, Romans 8:26

“He is a faithful God who keeps His covenant for a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7:9

~April Dawn White

©2017 April Dawn White, All Rights Reserved.

Upheld by the Invisible Hand of God

During my morning coffee with Jesus, I read Psalm 59-63. My face broke into a wide grin when I landed on Psalm 63:8.

 “My soul clings to you, your right hand upholds me.” (Psalm 63:8)

Ever since I’ve been actively purposefully walking with the Lord (for the past fourteen years or longer) this has been my life verse. The visual concept of God’s mighty right hand holding me up brought comfort in the years I battled depression, parenting a strong-willed child, dealing with prickly relationships, and loss.

More recently, it dawned on me when I chose this verse or it chose me (or however that works) I would end up with an illness that often required my need to be upheld up.

Sometimes I am too weak to hold myself up and I must walk with the the assistance of another person, or cling to the wall and  “cruise the furniture” as my physical therapist calls it. Occasionally, I use a cane.  On the rarest occasions,  if I want to enjoy an amusement park with my children, I surrender to a wheelchair.Upheld the Invisible Hand of God

While I am often being upheld by family, the invisible hand of God is holding me up spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically too.

My soul continues to cling to the Lord and God’s mighty right hand never fails to uphold me.

~April

© 2017 April Dawn White

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