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.

Mourning Glory: Guest Writer Marilyn Nutter

morning-glory-black background PIxabayHis divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3 NIV

It’s time to think about flowers and plants in South Carolina. Nearly two years ago, I bought a house with plantings of beautiful knock out roses, gladiolas and peonies. This year, I thought I would venture out and look for additional flowers. I stumbled on morning glory seeds. Morning glory (also written as morning-glory) is the common name for over 1,000 species of flowering plants.

 
No, I’m not a horticulturist and this post isn’t a tutorial on gardening. I looked up the information because I was intrigued by the name. It struck a nerve. My thoughts of morning glories moved to mourning glory.

 
I am among several women in a group who are widows. Some have been widowed a few months; others years. We often have lunch together, go to a movie and even travel to the beach. One topic that always surfaces in our conversation is a new thing we’ve had to tackle or learn. One friend described her month long roof repairs due to hail damage. She was frustrated with her insurance company and making calls to get estimates. Another said she bought tires for the first time (a different kind of first than the “first Christmas”) by herself. A third mentioned getting paperwork ready for taxes and bursting into tears when she saw her late husband’s signature on last year’s return and receipts. Someone else changed air filters and climbed a ladder to do it.morning-glory-bee Pixabay

 
Each of us has our unfamiliar task and our lack of expertise, but we also celebrate our accomplishments.

“I drove three hours alone to spend a weekend at a friend’s house.”

“I completed the taxes.”

“I arranged for painters to paint two rooms.”

“I untangled garden hoses and it was a mess.”

“If I forget to leave lights on, I’m not afraid to come home to a dark house now.”

None of those was easy. Each was a different challenge and reminder that our husband wasn’t there. But we all on agree on one thing and we encourage each other: grace accompanied us each time.

morning-glory-bud-Pixabay…but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My loving kindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 AMP

Morning glories are used to cover arbors and trellises because of their lush foliage and brilliant colored trumpet-shaped blooms. The same can be said of grace. It’s a covering and gives brilliantly colored blooms that attract others.

The downside is morning glories bloom and curl up in the same day. But grace blooms and is endless. It’s one of God’s promises. He always keeps His promises. That’s why we have mourning glory.

What about you? When have you experienced grace as a mourning glory or in another difficult time? 

~Marilyn Nutter

 

There’s No Crying in Softball

Me and Rachel softball 2016 CROPPED“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:19, NIV)

I pull on my favorite JMU sweatshirt, elbowing the tiny faucets at the corners of my eyes. Tears trickle down my face.  Eager to pitch, Rachel pounds her fist in her mitt.  Wearing a determined game face, she appears older than ten and a half.

Rachel tosses a glove in my direction. This is my glove, the one I’ve owned since I was a teen. I stare at soft leather glove as if it is a foreign object.  Slipping it onto my left hand I examine the look. Rachel counts out thirty paces and asks, “Are you sure you can do this Mom?”

“Let’s give it a try.” I respond.

I stand amazed at what is about to take place. I lift my eyes to the sky and say a prayer of thanks. I’m about to play catch with my daughter, a feat I’ve lacked strength for over four months.  The faucets creek more and I turn so she doesn’t see the tears.

Every pitcher needs a catcher so I squat down, just a little. Rachel winds up and releases the ball.

“Steeeriiiike!” I yell out.home plate CROPPED

A slow grin spreads across her face and mine too.  She throws a few more over our chalk drawn plate. The faucets are creek more and I am weeping in my middle of our street. I weep for lost moments with my children. I weep because I didn’t think I’d be able to do this again.

I weep because this feels like an old self activity and I thought that old self had vanished.

Rachel understands my concern. “Mom, are you okay?”

I nod, “I’m fine, I’m fine” running the arm of my sweatshirt across my face.

20150520_175828-1In her best Tom Hanks impression from the movie “A League of Their Own” Rachel playfully jabs, “There’s no crying in softball!”

I release a full body belly laugh. This too feels like an old self activity.

Rachel continues to throw strikes and balls across our imaginary plate. With the strength given by God and new medication, I am able to pick the ball up and throw it back.

Even in these times of uncertainty. I take joy in finding God’s goodness in the land of the living. I will soak up every good day I have because “It is well with my soul.”

~April Dawn White

Photos courtesy of Author

O Holy Night


Written O Holy NIght Photoby Sonia Hancock

The holiday season is now in full swing and with it comes sweet Christmas carols and hymns of the Christ-child. Cherished lines from our favorite songs will be hummed in grocery store lines, sung at family gatherings, and played hundreds of times over the air waves during the next few weeks.

O Holy night. Beautiful star of Bethlehem. Away in a manger. Infant holy, infant lowly…

With all the sentimentality and joyful expressions of these wondrous tunes, I wonder how often, if ever, we stop to think about the words we’re singing and how lowly that Holy Night really was.

A lonely couple in the throes of labor frantically searching the streets for a place to stay, not knowing what to expect or what was to come.

A baby born on the dirty floor of a barn, the air filled with the stench of animals and manure.

No assistance of a midwife or another woman to help the young girl through the grueling agony of childbirth; no man to aid Joseph in the anxiousness of knowing he was about to parent the son of the Most High God.

Mary baring her vulnerable, teenage body to the older man who she, up until that night, had never before been intimate with. Besides feeling fearful and overwhelmed, both Mary and Joseph must have felt the awkwardness.

After the labor, there was no sink to clean up the blood or afterbirth. No soft pillow could be found for Mary to rest her exhausted head as she lay on the hard floor most likely surrounded with scratchy, uncomfortable straw.

There was no plush baby blanket to wrap around her child, only ripped strips of worn-out cloth.  The only visitors were not parents, close friends or extended relatives, but complete strangers – shepherds bringing along more animals and stench. No flowers, no cards, and no gifts. It’s good to remember that the wise men didn’t show up until a year or two later to Joseph and Mary’s modest  Bethlehem home. When we  add those beautifully adorned kings and their 3 gifts to our nativity sets and Christmas cards, we do so to make the scene more palatable and glamorous, but there was nothing glamorous about that night. This picture of the most holy of nights is not a pretty one.nativity-447767_1920 pixabay

The images we conjure up of that Silent Night are of a haloed couple, all smiles, gazing lovingly at their cute little baby boy surrounded by clean, adorable animals who seem to be smiling as well. Dimple-faced cherubs fly around the manger while a little drummer boy is playing a tune, and the Bethlehem Star is shining through the crack in the roof filling it with an unnatural incandescent glow.  The actual setting in which our Savior appeared was far from this tree-ornament nativity scene. It was beyond humble and lowly, yet we do get a glimpse of loveliness here. Amid the moo’s and baaa’s, tears and sweat, confusion and pain, we behold the beauty of the extended love of the Father toward us in sending His son on that difficult and unattractive night. We witness a holy perfection in the tiny Messiah and see the beauty of Peace and Goodwill that he brought to all humanity.

“Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given…and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Is. 9:6

This year I will still be singing along but with a different and more grateful point of view.  Dwelling on its reality brings a new meaning of humility to O Holy Night…

“Oh holy night
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine”

Dear friends,advent-80125_1920 pixabay
Sonia possesses a wonderful gift of writing and depth of the soul.

You can read more of Sonia’s gift of penning grace at www.flecksofgrace@wordpress.com.

Merry Christmas, April Dawn White

 

Me too

Why are you called to create content for the mainstream audience? This question haunted me for days. I stared at the blank screen and blinking cursor. I had no idea how to answer this question. Through, Red Chair Moments, I have been chronicling my walk with the Lord for three years. Yet, I felt completely inept to answer this question.

 
I needed to think. I needed God to speak. I needed to run. I laced up my tennis shoes and started down my usual three mile course. God met me on the pavement and whispered these two words: Me too. 
As a wife and mom, I struggle with balancing life.  I am part of what I call the “Taffy Generation.” I am pulled in the direction of work, raising kids, giving my man the attention he deserves, and helping our aging parents. Can you relate? Me too.
 I don’t have it all together. I am short tempered and yell more than I should. I even yelled at my kids this morning. I smash the snooze button, when I should be praying. I ate three pieces of birthday cake in one day and wonder why my jeans are tight. If I’m not careful social media makes me feel like a loser mom. I drink entirely too much coffee and not enough water. Last night we ate cereal for dinner. I desperately need God’s grace every day.
Those two simple words are my answer. I am qualified to write about God’s grace, because I rely upon it daily. On paper, I am the most unqualified person for God’s assignment to write. I’ve never taken a class in writing. I don’t hold an English degree. As a pharmacist, I am more comfortable discussing the bacteria in a patient’s colon than the semicolons in punctuation.  As a wife and mom, I struggle with balancing life and keeping God’s number one commandment “Have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). God’s grace is the axis for my writing. Everything rotates around His never ending grace.
We each have our struggles. I don’t have to pretend to have it all together, instead I rely on the One who does. Perhaps, someone else is saying, “Me too!”
Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart…
not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18, MSG)

 

~April 

Camp

Our kids went to Camp Eagle this week, and I am surprised we haven’t received a letter from them. Scratch that–I am surprised we haven’t received a letter from Andrew. Camp Eagle is a church camp nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains outside of Fincastle, Va. Our children have spent many years attending the day camp programs, but this was their first week long, overnight camp.

We have been covering this week at camp in prayer for months, honestly over 6 months! As time grew closer, both Andrew and Rachel became increasing nervous about being away from home. Both children have their quirks when it comes to sleeping habits which caused great distress. I assured them that there would be other kids at camp who slept with a stuffed animal or needed a night light.

We tried to calm their fears by sharing our own camp experiences, but the kids gave us the “you’re-too-old-to-understand-look.” I even shared a story from my coworker, that when her twin boys went to camp they were embarrassed to have Spiderman underwear. Just a few days before they left for camp she had to buy all new underwear! When the boys arrived at camp, with their “grown up” underwear, everyone else in their cabin was wearing…you guessed it…Spiderman!

Every night before bed we would pray over their week at camp. We would pray for the kids bedtime quirks, pray the kids would meet new friends, be courageous to try new adventures, and deepen their relationship with the Lord. 

Most importantly we would pray this simple prayer that the kids have committed to memory:
“I will trust and not be afraid.” Isaiah 12:2
Andrew wrote these words on a note card and taped it to his bed. Every night he would repeat it over and over. Even at camp he had printed that verse on a piece of paper to read every night. Tucked inside their suitcases was a envelope containing my bedtime prayer over them, always ending with the powerful words from Isaiah “I will trust and not be afraid.”
We arrived at camp at 9:00am Monday morning. The kids were silent as we pulled off the main road and drove down the long gravel road leading deep into the wooded camp. Upon arrival the kids realized they recognized a few of the camp counselors. Some of which attend their school or who had just graduated and are working at the camp for the summer. The tension began to ease. Andrew and Rachel were calling out the names of everyone they saw that they knew. The excitement was building!  Rachel immediately recognized a girl who was her counselor and was brimming with happiness. When we stepped out of the truck Andrew heard a voice above the others saying “Andrew, I’ve been waiting for you! Dude, I’ve been waiting for you all Summer!” Andrew beamed! His favorite senior from school last year was HIS camp counselor!
We haven’t heard from the kids, which is a good sign that they are having too much fun to write home. I know God has answered our prayers.  Would you like to take a guess at Andrew’s camp counselor’s name? Isaiah!
As adults we can smile at the unnecessary worries like kids going off to camp. But really, when you think about it, we do the same thing in our own lives. We too become worried about the uncertainties in life: a health scare, career change, job security, being relocated, moving, etc. In the midst of all that we need to remember to trust in a Holy and perfect God and not be afraid!
I am a mess and tend to worry too much and try to control too much. I too need to learn to trust more! My time on earth is only temporary, but because I have placed my trust, faith, and salvation in Jesus Christ I will spend eternity in heaven.  One day, I too will hear a voice above all the others saying “April, I’ve been waiting for you!”
“I will trust and not be afraid!” Isaiah 12:2
~April
“May you and I be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:12

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