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.

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.

Life is Hard, but God is Good

Is God good?

I don’t know what prompted my husband to ask the question. It was an ordinary day. We were zooming down the road to Rachel’s (aka Pop Fly) softball game. Shifting into fifth gear, my husband turned toward the backseat and asked, “Is God Good?”

Rachel, our twelve-year-old, immediately answered, “Yes.”

Non-verbal sounds emanated from Andrew’s throat with a not-no-sure moan.

Chris asked again, “Andrew, Is God good?”

“Well….um…” He began.

Panic raced through my veins. Have I failed as a mother? I wonder.  I pray, “Lord, why isn’t he answering this question? Lord, help him to know the truth.”

“It’s just that…” He continued struggling to form his thoughts.

Memories flash through my mind of all the bedtime prayers, family devotions, long discussions about hard topics, vacation Bible schools, and even private Christian school. Yet my fourteen-year-old son struggles with this three-word question.

Sighing, Andrew spoke, “God is good, it’s just that life is hard right now.”

Continuing he said, “Mom has an illness and is unable to work. Dad has all the weight on him right now. I broke my ankle and we need to sell our house.”

Keeping his eyes on the road, Chris nodded, “You’re right Andrew, God is good and life is hard right now.”

Turing to look at him in the back seat, “Andrew, both of those statements are true. The reality of our current situation does not change the fact that God is good.”

I realized the delay in Andrew’s response was not due to a lack of knowledge, but rather a crisis of faith. Deep down he knew the right answer taught by his parents, the church, and even his school. However, his teenage brain had developed deeper thought processes. Truth and reality wrestled in his mind.

Life is Hard, but God is Good. Click To Tweet

There will come a time in everyone’s life when there is a crisis of faith.Surrounded on every side Truth and reality will wrestle in our minds.  Which one will win? Much of the outcome depends on our perception of God. Do you perceive God as good? If you struggle in this area, try this this exercise in faith: for one-week jot down everything, you are thankful. Big or small, write them down and give God praise for His faithful provision.

© 2017 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Ask, Unless You Never Want to Know

Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, my son asked, “Mom, did you draw this card?”

“No,” I replied, setting down the syrup next to his stack of fourteen pancakes.

Examining the card, Andrew asked, “So you stamped and colored this card.”

“Yes.”

“How did you know I’d want a blue truck,” asked the birthday boy.

Smiling, I said, “Because I’m your mom and I know what your favorite color is.”

The stack of fourteen silver dollar pancakes (one cake per year of birth) disappear and the birthday boy exhales, “Mom and Dad, thank you for the best birthday ever. Thank you for letting me invite a few friends to the trampoline park and spending a night. Mom I can’t believe you bought all the junk food I wrote on the list!”

Chuckling, I answered, “Well, you asked.”

Hours later, the sight of Andrew’s birthday card on the kitchen table reminded me of our earlier conversation. Our son was surprised that we would know exactly how to make his fourteenth birthday a blast. God reminded me that even more than I know my son, my Heavenly Father knows me. He knows the details of my heart’s needs and desires.

“Your [heavenly] Father knows what you need before you ask.” (Matthew 6:8)

“Your Father in heaven gives good gifts to those who ask him.” (Matthew 7:11)

A few days before his birthday celebration, Andrew left a grocery list of food items for his sleepover. He was hopeful, but not demanding. To his surprise, we purchased everything on the list.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

I ponder; I am simply guilty of not asking. God’s desire is to give good gifts to his children. I am guilty of praying about the big areas of my life, but leave the smaller issues for myself as if I don’t want to exasperate God. That line of thinking is wrong. Paul, the author of Philippians, encourages us to ask with thanks by prayer and petition.

Taking out a new sheet of paper, I dated the top and listed all my requests.  As God answers each or changes the situation, I will write the date alongside each request.

Moral of Andrew’s fourteenth birthday, just ask.

Ask, unless you never what to know how God will answer. Click To Tweet

Consider:

  • What do you desire that you haven’t bothered asking God for?
  • Consider creating your own list of prayer and petition before God.

~April Dawn White

*Images courtesy of Author & Pixabay. Stamp, “Loads of Love courtesy of Stampin Up.

*Scripture is NIV from BibleGateway.com unless otherwise noted.

© 2017 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

My Top 5 Christian Parenting Books

My bookcase is full of books I’ve read on parenting. With each new book, I not only came away with a fuller understanding of how to parent these kids who eat all the cereal in one day blessings from above, but also a deeper understanding of myself.Hands-by-Dami-Wurtz-Pixabay

Currently my children are eleven and thirteen. I’m sure my list of favorite books will change as the kids age, but for now here are my top five parenting books.

My top five parenting books:

  1. Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours by Kevin Leman
  2. Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson
  3. Best Friends and Mean Girls by Dannah Gresh
  4. You Can’t Make Me, (But I Can be Persuaded) by Cynthia Tobias
  5. Middle School: The Inside Story by Cynthia Tobias and Sue Acuna
  6. The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian*

I cheated an added The Power of a Praying Parent to this list. Storie Omartian’s book is a timeless read for any parent regardless of the child’s age.

 

Parenting: General:

Parenting Girls:

Parenting Boys:

Parenting the Strong-Willed Child:

Favorite Parenting Sites:

Let’s keep this list growing. What is your favorite parenting book? Please share below.

~April Dawn White

*Images courtesy of author. © 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

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