Author Archives: Heidi St. John

The Day I Had to Redefine My Weakness

Twenty-five years ago today, I was getting ready to have my first baby.

For two weeks, I’d been walking around Portland, 80% effaced and 4cm. No one seemed bothered by my 5’7 frame, waddling around the mall, trying to kickstart labor. No one seemed worried that I was a ticking pregnant time bomb, about to embark on a journey I felt utterly unprepared to take.

After all, everyone in my family knew I could not keep houseplants alive—and here I was, about to be responsible for another living human being.

My anxiety reached a boiling point when I was in my 38th week of pregnancy. Jay and I had just finished our last childbirth education class. You know—the one where they tell you that if you breathe right it won’t hurt. That one.

Our last class was over. We were as ready as we were going to be.

Bring it.

One by one, the women got up to leave, passing Nola on the way to the door. Nola was our childbirth educator. She hugged the sweet mamas and kissed their tummies as they left. She high-fived the dads and walked them to the door of her home. We liked Nola. We knew her from church, and the past few weeks had given me confidence that she was someone I could be real with. I waited until there was no one left in the room before I made eye contact with her.

When she sat down next to me, I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I began to cry as I stared at my ridiculously oversized belly. “I’m afraid! I can’t do this!” I sobbed. Nola’s eyes were soft and comforting. “You are going to be fine,” she said quietly. “Your body was made for this.” Of course, she had no idea that the process of childbirth was not what I was afraid of.

My fears were much farther reaching. They threatened our future as a family and robbed me of peace. My father’s profound disappointment in who I was had shaped how I saw myself: destined to fail.

I felt weak. I feared I could not be the kind of mom I wanted to be. I feared I was destined to give my child the same upbringing I had. I feared I would lose my temper, even to the point of injuring this precious one I carried in me. I feared my baby would grow to fear me as I feared my father. I was almost desperate for someone else to be this baby’s mom.

The words just kept coming. I could not stop sobbing. There it was. My weakness was exposed, out there for everyone to see. Out in front of the curtain. And then—it happened.

God met me. There, in my weakness, He met me.

Nola laid her hands on my belly and looked softly at me. Her heart seemed to ache with mine.

“Oh Heidi!” she said. “Don’t you know who you are? You are NEW! God has made you new! You are a new creation and your baby is the beginning of the healing that is coming if you will let God in to the deep places in your heart. Do you trust Him? Do you believe it?”

I wanted to believe it. I was desperate for God. I cried out to Him, aware that something inside of me was beginning to break free. In that moment, when I let just one other person see the woman behind the curtain, God began a healing in my life that still continues today. Many years have passed since that moment, but I know my life took a turn that evening. I didn’t understand what Nola meant then but I knew I needed to cling to Jesus. If I was going to be strong, I needed to accept my weakness as opportunity to find God’s strength. I needed that strength to invade my heart, to comfort and heal me.

Are you there?  Desperate to name your weakness so God can meet you in it? He’s waiting. weakness-heidistjohn

Dear Homeschool Mom Who Isn’t Ready to Go Back to School

Dear Homeschoo Mom Who Isn't Ready to Go Back to SchoolDear homeschool mom who isn’t ready—or can’t bring herself to think about school: In other words, a letter to myself.
 
I’m 187 years old in homeschooling this fall, I think. Maybe not. I’ve lost track. Truth be told, I haven’t thought much about what I’m doing for school this year. There’s a stack of books on my dining room table with a piece of paper on top that says, “TO REVIEW.” I need to place my usual online order for math. Reality?  I don’t even want to look at it.

I did catch the sale at Walmart on spiral notebooks. Got a whole box of those bad boys! Felt like a small victory.

Hey, I know you’re wondering what’s going on with me. I mean, I speak to thousands of homeschoolers every season. It’s my job to pump you guys up—but honestly, I’m a little depleted right now.  You should see the piles of books that I still have to sort through. Normally by this time of year I’m pretty well ahead of the game. Try not to think too much less of me.

Like I said, 187 years. That’s a long time. I’m tired.  I know, I know. “You chose this,” you say. Just like we chose to have a big family. I know, I know.

There was a time when comments like “Well you chose this” would have really hurt. I’m over it now, because I’m too busy being hard on myself. Your criticisms can’t compete with the voices in my head. Believe me.
Our kids are going to be in 1st, 6th, 8th and 10th grade this fall. Somehow, the three we graduated seem to be doing fine. I say it over and over.
Earlier today, the five and eleven year olds were “catching” slugs. You know, for the “habitats” they made out of my two best clear storage containers. They’re not my best containers anymore. They’re full of dirt—and slugs. One has a praying mantis in it. They were feeding it moths and spiders yesterday. Seems they’ve discovered what the word “carnivorous” means in the process.

“Hey, this is unschooling!” I laughed out loud. Fifteen years ago I would not have counted that. That was before I knew the value of letting my kids be bored.

They’ve been bored a lot this summer, because I’ve been writing a book… for a year. Today, I turned in the final manuscript. After I emailed it to my publisher and agent, I went downstairs to see how the kids were faring. Our thirteen year old was making her first ever batch of gluten-free pretzels. They were good—warm and salty and pull-apart soft.  I suggested she hide them—you know—from me. She’s getting really good at this baking thing.

“Maybe I’m not failing,”  I thought. “Looks like someone is figuring out ratios’n stuff.”

My son, now going into his junior year, is finishing up Biology after ditching it for my speaking season. Poor kid. Instead of finishing Biology with his class, he was with our family, lugging books around the country and helping us sell books while taking in cities like Dallas, New York, Chattanooga, Nashville, Orlando, Topeka and Denver.

“This is American History/Geography/Consumer Math/Psychology,” I mused. “I’m pretty sure I’ve read articles about unschoolers getting into Harvard.”

“Maybe I’m overthinking this again,” I thought.

Because in all my years of homeschooling, for every year of changing schedules, curriculum and stress levels, one thing has remained the same: the equipping grace of God. Really, it’s all Him. Even if I don’t start school for two more weeks (and we probably won’t, because sane mom is better than stressed mom) His grace is there.  I don’t have to do papier-mâché globes and salt-maps of the State of Washington by mid-October to find the grace I need.

Maybe, just maybe, God is reminding me that if I’ll do my part—He’ll do His.

So, if this is you tonight (and if it’s not, that’s okay too) I thought maybe, just maybe, you could use the same reminder that the Spirit spoke to my heart tonight.

 
It’s going to be okay.
 
Breathe.
 
You don’t have to start next week. (really!)
 

Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. <3

Pray. Ask God for His specific instructions. His yoke is easy.

Make a {simple} list.

Make a {simple} menu. Cereal can be a meal. You’re welcome.

Remember God’s faithfulness. God will finish what He has started.

Enjoy the kids. Enjoy them. Take walks. Take field trips.

You don’t have to be ready right now. You just have to be listening.
xoxo
heidi

Culture Creep and the Sidelining of Parents

Something sad and fascinating is happening to parents in this postmodern era. They’re being lied to. They’re being told that they aren’t necessary and what’s worse they’re buying the lie! After all, they say the “village” can do it better. Well, I’ve seen the village. I don’t want it raising my kids.
I call it “culture creep.” I live in a rural (well, it used to be rural) part of Washington State. Slowly but surely, urban sprawl has reached my town. I like the convenience that comes with it; for example, we just got Red Robin and Walmart last year… but I don’t like the traffic. I loathe the congested streets and long lines at the grocery store. I miss the “small town” feel that it used to have at Christmas and the 4th of July.
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Culture is the same way. Except that from what I can tell, we’re not benefitting one bit. There are no perks. The culture has it’s own agenda. Look carefully. It’s creeping up into places where parents should not want it to go.
 
Slowly but surely, culture is shutting parents out of what should be the parent’s primary place: decision makers in the lives of their children. Parents have the right and responsibility to know what is happening with their children.
 
Yesterday, I learned that Anne Arundel County Public Schools in Maryland, in a effort to make their schools “safe spaces” for kids who identify as transgender, produced a training video, starring the district’s chief communications officer, Bob Mosier. The video surfaced a few days ago on The American Conservative, but was uploaded on YouTube in mid-July.

 In it, Mr. Mosier makes a few key suggestions to teachers and chaperones who take students on overnight trips—chief among them is the advice that if a transgender student wants to sleep with students of the opposite sex, just let them.
 
Oh, and pssst! By the way: since the school values the transgender student’s privacy, make sure no one tells the parents.
 
This is what I’m talking about.
Since when did we stop valuing a parent’s right to know what in the world is happening with their children? How can parents make wise decisions for their children if information is being purposely withheld from them? How can we protect our kids if we don’t know what they’re being taught or exposed to?
 
Parents today are being told that kids can make their own decisions (starting in elementary school) on everything from birth control to which gender they want to be. What used to be regarded as a parents responsibility is often seen as an infringement on the child.
 
Here in my state, simple tasks like looking at my 13 yr olds’ medical records require effort, persistence and even permission from my 13 year old. If we want to stay in the race and finish it well, we must refuse to be sidelined. Moms who go the distance possess a willingness to endure rather than become a passive onlooker in the lives of their children.
 
I understand that there are abuse situations that require different measures, but shutting healthy parents out of the lives of their kids is not the solution. Keeping parents from knowing what is happening with their children at school should not be commonplace! It should be a crime.
 
When the world says “give up” or “it’s not your business,” I challenge you to stand up for the sake of your child. Go ahead and risk being annoying. Be the mom who knows the names of your child’s friends. Be the mom who asks the hard questions and loves unconditionally.  Be the mom who refuses to be sidelined and instead guides her child in the way of Truth through every stage of growing up, including adolescence.
Our kids need their parents. They don’t need the government or the school system to teach them about the big things in life, they need their parents.
And parents? Today’s parents need the wisdom of Solomon. They need the wisdom that comes straight from God Himself.

Are you hiding behind a curtain?

Do you notice how many moms hide behind a curtain these days? It’s easy to feel inadequate when the images we see on magazines and online show only happy kids and smiling moms. The reality of course, is much different than the facade.

Even though my experience may not be exactly like yours, my hunch is that our stories are not all that different. Women have been hiding behind different kinds of curtains for generations. The image of the perfect housewife from the 40’s and 50’s was a facade that often covered alcohol abuse and infidelity.

The 60’s and 70’s saw the culture plummeting from legalism to liberty in a no holds barred attempt to gain a false sense of self and freedom. We burned our bras and gave “free” love away, only to end up disillusioned. Solomon was right. Truly there is “nothing new under the sun.” The fact that we hide is not new, but the things we hide behind surely are. In 2017, we’re hiding behind a screen. The Internet is like a giant curtain, and in front of it, everyone’s an expert.

Brad Paisley summed it up perfectly in his song, I’m So Much Cooler Online, a song about a young boy who was pretending to the someone else online. As a blogger, I have seen this reality up-close and personal, as many wives and mothers I meet struggle in their search for significance amid a growing sea of voices. “Platform” is what’s coveted now, and many mothers are losing their families in order to find it.

be-authentic

The Internet, as it turns out, is a great place to hide in plain sight. Authentic living doesn’t need a platform, it IS the platform.  Our children need us to be authentic mothers if we are going to have any hope of seeing our them navigate the challenges that lie ahead.  They need to see how we handle our challenges instead of how we hide them.   They need to see us walk through them instead of stoically standing and pretending that everything is okay. And most importantly, they need to see us run to the Lord and ask Him for courage to share our struggles with others so they can walk our hard roads with us.

Are you ready to be authentic?

A Strong Warning About False Teachers

A couple weeks ago, my heart broke as a woman who claims the name of the Lord Jesus invited her followers on social media not to “overburden” their conscience by hesitating to vote for a pro-abortion candidate.

In a Facebook post, this woman said,

“…I’d like to suggest that voting for a pro-choice candidate in this election, or any election, need not overburden your conscience.”

Through her blog, she went on to give a defense of her opinion that was utterly devoid of any evidence of Biblical truth, stating that abortion is a “debatable” topic and that government should make decisions on behalf of women and families.

“Given the complex nature of these and other issues, the degree to which the government should make decisions on behalf of women and families regarding pregnancy is, and should be, debatable.”

Debatable? Not according to God. Not when it comes to the murder of unborn babies. We can talk all day about what the role of government should be in the lives of the we, the governed, but abortion is another animal. Men and women, if you love God and know that you are going to stand before Him someday, your conscience should be terribly burdened by what is happening to our unborn in the name of “choice.” Anyone who suggests that God doesn’t care about it is not listening to the Lord—or cannot listen because they do not know Him.

God’s Word warns us against false teachers. If there was ever a time to be on the lookout for them, the time is now. We are living in a generation of biblically illiterate, immature Christians—people who, while claiming the name of Jesus, and wanting His mercy, forgiveness and salvation, do not wish to carry His cross.

false-teachers

This was evidenced by the thousands of people who cheered her post and encouraged her in her deception. These people are easy targets for wolves among the sheep, and they are blogging, pastoring and counseling God’s children away from, not into, what God says is truth.

Our hearts should break over what breaks God’s heart–and abortion is at the top of the list of things God says he hates. Here’s the Truth, according the the Bible, which is the believer’s final authority:

Proverbs 6:16-19  (NIV)
There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes,feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

Isaiah 49:1 Before I was born the Lord called me;from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name. Every baby whose life has been snuffed out at the hands of another human being belonged to God.

Are we so foolish as to believe He will not exact wrath and pour out His righteous anger over us for NOT “overburdening” our conscience? God forms us in our mother’s womb and has spoken our names before we took a single breath. Oh, how we have sinned against the Lord in this nation by calling evil “choice” and excusing sin for the sake of convenience.

False teachers promise peace when God says there will be judgment—and teachers who suggest otherwise are wolves in sheep’s clothing. False teachers tell you that you can live in sin and that God will not discipline you. These are all false teachings.

Get in your Bible, Christian! Know the Word of God. Don’t be fooled by false teachers.

 In the end, we will stand before the Lord and give an account for the way we lived our lives. I, for one, am willing to carry the burden of the unborn on my conscience until the Lord comes and makes it right. As believers in Christ and in His gospel, we have no choice in this matter.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it best before he was executed at the hands of the Nazi regime:

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

Click here for a companion podcast!

The Lie of Ordinary Motherhood

Last week, in a moment of desperation and frustration, I looked at my husband and lamented, “I live in a state of constantly disappointing someone!” That’s how I felt after forgetting to get back to one of my grown children about a coffee date while simultaneously being behind in everything from laundry to dinner prep.

And yes. I have helpers. The kitchen helper complained that her chores were too much, and one of my teens blurted something out about being “ruined” due to homeschooling.

I’d love to tell you that I reacted positively to these minor challenges, but I didn’t. I retreated to my room and hosted my own pity party.

It felt good, actually.  Forget those kids! They can make their own dinner tonight! For that matter, they can do it for the REST OF THEIR LIVES! Our ten year old poked her head into my room and observed that I was “in a bad mood.” She was right. I was.

“I’m just a mom!” I complained. I can’t keep up. Why am I even doing this? Who cares?

For those few hours last week, I forgot I was part of a battle.

I have discovered that where mothers are concerned, the devil doesn’t need to change tactics very often. One of his favorite tactics is to tell mothers this simple lie, “You’re just a mom.”

Have you ever heard the enemy whisper the lie in your ear?

lie-ordinary-motherhood

Here’s the truth: There’s no such thing as just a mom.

Many moms believe this lie because they don’t realize the implications it carries with it.

See if you can see the danger of the lie. If I am “just a mom,” then

  • I’m not part of a battle.
  • I’m not capable of training warriors.
  • my role is insignificant.
  • it doesn’t matter if I’m strong or not.
  • my role is replaceable.
  • my role is just for one generation.
  • my walk with God is not important.
  • the spiritual battle doesn’t include me.

Can you see the risk in believing the lie?

There is no such thing as “just a mom.” Mothers are literally shaping the hearts and minds of an entire generation of children. Moms matter, and the devil knows it. This is why he works overtime to discourage Christian moms from taking an active part in the spiritual nurturing of their children.

Honestly? We can’t afford to let Satan lie to us any longer. Too much is at stake. We’re dealing with more lies in this generation than in the past sixty years—and it’s time to put this one to bed for good.

You’re more than “just a mom.” You’re more than “ordinary.” You’re ordained for the kingdom purpose of raising your children to follow God.

That means you’re a warrior. Stay in the fight!

Is Your Family Ready for an Emergency? Help is Here! Meet City Girl Prepper

I’m a little bit intimidated by emergency preparedness people. There. I said it.

Now hear me out … it’s not that I don’t want to be ready for a crisis, it’s that I’ve never had a good idea how to start getting ready. The supplies overwhelm me. How much water do we need to have on hand? How much food? How many batteries—and do I really need duct tape? I have it but it’s plaid and green and my kids use it for crafts-n-stuff.

The events of the past several months have caused me and my husband to shift our focus to what kinds of things we would need to have on hand if there was a disruption in everyday life. I know many of you are feeling the same way. There is a lot going on in our world. But what if you could find a way to have a little bit of peace-of-mind and know that if something does happen, you have resources to tackle the disruption or disaster at hand?

My blood pressure dropped just thinking about how much calmer your kids would be if they knew that mom had it handled. Can you relate? If so—I have good news for you. I met a mom in California recently who has started a business that helps moms like me make sure their family is ready for any kind of emergency situation. Jennifer Stewart-Tai has put together backpacks with literally everything you would need in case of an emergency.

Emergency PreparednessMade for MomsBy a Mom

Why should we be concerned? Because we need to be able to take care of our families in the event of an emergency. It can take a while to get help if first responders are overwhelmed. For example, did you know that there are only 15 first responders for every 25,000 citizens?

With just 80% of American families prepared, resources will quickly be tapped out if there is a natural disaster or disruption in services and goods.  So it’s up to you to have supplies for you and your family.

“As a busy mom it’s difficult to find the time to research and assemble a backpack and the supplies you need in case of an emergency,” says City Girl Prepper founder Jennifer Stewart-Tai. “That’s why I started City Girl Prepper. CGP focuses on making emergency backpacks for families, with a special emphasis on women.

All the backpacks are already assembled and take the guesswork out of the equation.”

If you already have a backpack, consider this: City Girl Prepper backpacks are different because they were designed by a mom for moms. In addition to the basics, like a 3-days’ supply of food and water, it’s filled with all the extras you really want to have in case of an emergency; women’s fit work gloves, quality feminine products, fun band-aids, and of course—chocolate.
You’ll gain comfort knowing that you are doing what you do best—taking care of your family.

And *newsflash!* We all know that a calm mom= calm kids.

But—here’s what makes City Girl Prepper even more exciting…you can get prepared and help other families do the same thing!

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Save 10% on your City Girl Prepper purchase!
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Become a Preparedness Coach today!
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Have you ever attended a party for jewelry or candles? What about a Readiness party? Isn’t it time for a party with a purpose? City Girl Prepper is actually a direct selling company who is recruiting founding consultants. So you can get your family ready and help others too. City Girl Prepper is on a mission to inspire and create self-reliant women who are ready for anything that comes their way. It’s a big mission, and they need as many people as possible to join in and make a difference in their community. “The more prepared our community is, the stronger we all are!” says Stewart-Tai.

partywithpurpose1