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.

The Hospitality Hibiscus

The hardy hibiscus plant is a true showstopper with its dinner plate size blossoms. Unlike its tropical cousin, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, the hardy hibiscus is a perennial plant, which brings a tropical flare to a non-tropical flower garden.

As a child, my family spent many summer vacations at Myrtle Beach. It was there in coastal South Carolina, that my Mother fell in love with the hibiscus plant.

Tropical hibiscus plants are not native to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. However, after returning home from South Carolina, Dad surprised Mom with the hardy hibiscus variety. Forty-four years later, crimson, champagne pink and white blooms with a distinct red eye, add a South Carolina tropical flare to my parent’s back yard.

One day I surveyed the streets surrounding my parent’s house. I was amazed at all the hibiscus plants I observed.

“Mom, I see beautiful flowering hibiscus plants in many of the yards here. Did you have anything to do with that?”

Mom’s laugh lines deepened, her grin served as her response.

“Seriously mom, even several streets away from your house, I see hibiscus plants.”

With a glint in her eye, mom replied, “Your Dad and I share our hibiscus plants with new neighbors, old neighbors, when someone is sick, or anyone who walks by. One day, your Dad saw Miss Helen out walking and asked her is she wanted a hibiscus. Miss Helen said, “Do I want a hot biscuit?” Laughing Dad repeated,  “Do you want a hibiscus plant?”

Miss Helen received a few hibiscus plants and she and Dad still joke about having a hot biscuit.

I counted over twenty yards with the beautiful hardy hibiscus plants, gifted by my parents. Some yards have all three varieties of color.

The Bible describes the use of hospitality in three easy ways: Show, Offer, and Practice.

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Hebrews 13:2, NLT

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:9-10

Practice hospitality.  Romans 12:13

Showing, offering, and practicing hospitality are my parent’s love languages—their gifts. Mom and Dad serve as extra grandparents to the neighboring kids. Dad repairs bikes and scooters and helps to build pine wood derby cars. Meanwhile, Mom is in the kitchen, cooking a meal, restocking the cookie jar or restocking the freezer with popsicles—sharing whatever they have with others.

Show, Offer, & Practice Hospitality. Click To Tweet

Just as the tropical hibiscus plants are not native to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Kindness, hospitality, generosity, sympathy, and compassion are also no longer native to our of our culture. By replanting these diminishing character traits we can begin to replenish our communities.

My parents have lived in the same home for forty-four years. They have planted hospitality for decades and have the unique advantage to see how their hospitality has blossomed over the years. 

Sometimes we plants seeds of hospitality, seeds of kindness, seeds of compassion and we don’t remain in the area long enough to see it come to fruition. But whether we stay planted in one neighborhood for a lifetime or move frequently we can practice hospitality right where we’re planted.

How can we show, offer, and practice hospitality with those around us?

~April Dawn White  © 2017 All Rights Reserved

Red Chair Moments, on location at my parents’ house.

Happy Birthday Dad!

birthday-cake 1008396_1280 pixabay“Happy birthday” I exclaim a little too loudly over the clinking coffee mugs. Dad shuffles towards table. Even after total knee replacement surgery, his knee still lacks range of motion. He gestures to his leg and shrugs his shoulder in an “Oh well. What can you do?” motion.

Dad collapses into the chair and repositions his bum knee. Handing him the breakfast menu, I kiss him on his cheek and repeat quieter this time, “Happy 70th birthday dad!”

Dad's 70th birthday selfie!

Dad’s 70th birthday selfie!

He grunts, “Seventy makes me sound like an old man,” and grunts again. We stifle our giggle as the server refills my coffee and takes dad’s drink order.

For the following two hours, we share life.  We talk over endless cups of coffee about everything.  I watch my father tell a story by repositioning the salt and peppershaker and jelly packets. I follow his hands in giant gestures. I joke that dad likes to tell the long story long, sparing no details.

As dad speaks, I realize I inherited much more than his facial features; I also inherited his gift of story telling.  Dad moves the jelly packets to detail another story and my mind wanders to my little red chair. The iconic metal red chair on the website, Red Chair Moments (dot) com, was my dad’s chair when he was a child. This little red chair now resides on our front porch and is a conversation piece, welcoming all that enter our home.Red Chair Moments Theme Photo

While showing dad our house listing online, we exchange a sorrowful glance. Wordlessly, dad is sharing my thoughts, “I can’t believe I have to sell my home because of a rare illness.”  “Is there a long-suffering gene,” I wonder as my dad holds my smart phone and watches the online virtual tour of our home. My dad is no stranger to hard times and long-suffering.

Mom & Dad with all the grand kids!

Mom & Dad with all the grand kids!

Is my ability to suffer long a result of nature or nurture, or is it totally faith based? Like thousands of Americans, dad was laid-off during the economic recession in the 1980’s. He picked up several part time jobs and eventually returned to work for the original employer. As a child, my parents shielded us from their financial struggles.  During those hard times, I recall overhearing my mom ask, “Can we afford to tithe?” Dad responded, “We can’t afford not too.”

Dad and I share an enormous sweet tooth, the same eyes, nose, and laugh lines. We love to tell stories to anyone willing to sit long enough to listen. My faith began by the foundation established by my parents. Dad taught me that I could never out give God.  We serve and share in the community of long-suffering. Through many hard times, dad anchored his hope to the Word of God and I never witnessed wavering faith. 

Happy birthday dad! I love you!

~April Dawn White

*Images courtesy of author and Pixabay.

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Missing Pieces or Room for Blessings?

alphabet-missing-q-meme“I’m missing Q” stumbled out of my mouth before I realized no one was around to listen. I positioned the rediscovered Kindergarten photograph next to my son’s eight grade school picture.  The rediscovered Kindergarten photo displayed a round face, wide blue eyes, and a crooked smile. The recent eight-grade photograph, of the same child, displayed a confident and mischievous I-know-it-all thirteen-year-old smile. Staring at the two photographs, I pondered at the handiwork of our Creator.

During my son’s Kindergarten year, the dental hygienist noted that our son was missing the tooth labeled as “Q.” He was greatly disturbed to be missing something that everyone else had. It bothered him so much that each time our son saw his school picture from that year he would point to the photograph or his mouth and state, “I’m missing Q.”

I tried to convince him missing “Q” did not matter. I explained it was only a baby tooth and he would eventually loose it anyway. I tried to convince him that the missing tooth would actually provide more space for the future adult teeth. With each explanation, my strong-willed five-year-old peered at me with a look that said, “Mom, you can’t fool me.”

Over dinner one evening, my husband explained that he also had teeth that never grew in. Andrew’s attitude instantly improved when he realized he was just like daddy.

Eight years later, the phrase “I’m missing Q” automatically stumbled out of my mouth when I saw this old photograph. Talking to the image of my five-year-old son, I said, “See you were so worried about this and you didn’t even need it.” Immediately a thought, perhaps the voice of God, downloaded into my brain. These words penetrated my heart, “April, what about you? What are you so worried about missing, that you don’t even need?”

My knees suddenly buckled. Pressing my palms against the refrigerator, I steadied myself. “Oh Lord,” I exclaimed. “Please forgive me!”whats-missing-meme

We spend too much energy fretting over missing pieces. We are afraid these lacking details will cause us to appear different and prevent us from fitting in or worse, prevent us from fulfilling our purpose.  But, what if we changed our perspective? Instead of complaining about the missing aspect of our life, what if we praised God for the extra space it provided. What if what’s missing allows God the space to plant a future blessing?

What if what's missing allows God the space to plant a future blessing? Click To Tweet

Today, I ask you the same question that penetrated my heart.  Dear friend, what are you so worried about missing? Perhaps it is God’s way of making room for a future blessing. 

Last week, I explored the notion of having growing room in our faith in a blog titled, Soccer, Shoes and Faith: Growing Room. If you want to dive deeper into the idea of God making space and growing room for faith, I encourage you to also read this post.

GIVEAWAY WINNERbook-cover

Congratulations to Dana S. for winning a free copy of 66 Ways God Loves You by Jennifer Rothschild! Dana, I will be in touch soon.

~April Dawn White

*All Scripture is NIV from Bible Gateway. *Images courtesy of Thomas Nelson, author, and Pixabay.

© 2016 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

You Can’t Out Give God!

Andrew gave all that he had.
The Wade Family Christmas is a large affair, with a gathering of over one hundred, our clan mostly dressed in Wranglers and boots, gather at a local reception hall. Each year, our extended family chooses a family in need. Often we donate food and firewood, and money. This year my parents, and the kids and I packed up our firewood to give to a family member going through a difficult time. After dinner, the monarch of the family announced another collection would be used to purchase new dentures recently lost at the nursing home.
            A few days later, I discover money and a note on the kitchen counter. I counted the money and read the note from Andrew: “New teeth.” I called Andrew into the kitchen to explain. He said, “Well, it’s not a lot, but it’s all the money I have, except for Wal-Mart gift cards. You can’t buy new teeth with a Wal-Mart gift card can you? We know two people who need new teeth and I want them to have my money. I have teeth. Everyone needs teeth, mom.” I cried. I lifted my head to the heavens and thanked the Good Lord above for this boy!
            We spent Christmas Eve with my parents, my sister and her children. After the presents were opened, my mom announced she had one more gift to give. She handed Andrew a crisp twenty-dollar bill and said, “Andrew, I heard about you giving all your money away to help buy new teeth for Wilton. This is for you!”  Andrew’s eyes lit up with excitement, and then he spoke, “But Grandma, this is too much. I only gave away $18 not $20.” She smiled at her only grandson and said, “No, you keep it!” From across the living room cluttered with wrapping paper, I asked “Andrew, what is it I always say about giving?” With a huge grin, he erupted, “YOU CAN’T OUT GIVE GOD!” It’s true; we can never out give God! In fact, the Bible says to test God on this subject.
Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
(Malachi 3:10 NIV)
            I received many treasured gifts this Christmas. However, the most treasured gift was watching Andrew walk in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s nudge to give; then watching his face light up when he received back more than he gave. That’s how God works. You can’t out give God!


~April 
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