Category Archives: Sisterhood

Do Moms Need Girlfriend Time?

Girlfriend Time 1000

We wear many hats. We are wife, mother, sister, daughter, daughter of God, homemaker, maybe homeschooler, maybe even business woman, too. Of course we need to spend intentional time with our husband, our kids, on our house, for our business, and most definitely with God. We’re cutting up that Time Pie pretty quickly aren’t we?

But do moms need Girlfriend Time, too?

I’m going to give a big, honkin’, YES!

Remember when you were young, a gaggle of girls getting together giggling and guffawing the time away? Sleepovers were the best–staying up way too late having the best fun.  Laughter is good medicine, and sharing laughter is where friendships are born, and sharing hearts after the laughter is spent is where friendships are cemented.

We need that.

I’m not saying we need that every day, and I’m certainly not saying it’s more important than Family Time or God Time. But we definitely need Friend Time, too.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22 (ESV)

More than that, we need good friendships with with women we can call sisters in Christ – women who are older and wiser than us, women who are younger and looking up to us, women who above all else seek to honor God with their lives.

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 <– (Or in our case, “woman.”)

Thanks to technology, our great big world is also amazingly small. I can have and make friends all over the world. I can write them, call them, text with them, chat or video chat with them, email them, comment on their blogs, connect with them through Facebook or Twitter, and all sorts of wonderful things.

I have friends who I used to know well but who now live far away and I have really good friends who I have never even met.

I have friends who homeschool and those who don’t, friends from all walks of faith, friends who are single and married, friends from varying backgrounds and political stances – so much diversity.

Friendship is a good thing. But while we “stay connected” to our large circle of friends, let’s make sure that we make time to intentionally connect with that smaller circle of Christian sisters on a regular basis.

Yes, we can text and online chat, visit at church and talk on the phone – that all counts. But it isn’t nearly as good as the real thing, right? Hang out for an afternoon while the kids play in the backyard, sneak out once a month to go for coffee – something. It will vary depending on your circumstances. And while you’re together, share, love, laugh, encourage, and enjoy. A good time with a good friend is a refreshing boost wrapped up in a smile.

And let’s face it… while we’re in the trenches of motherhood, we need a refreshing boost every now and then, don’t we? We need moms who have gone before or who are in the trenches with us to say, “Yes! I get you!! Hang in there, we can do this!”

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a conference with a friend. The conference was wonderful. The fellowship we had on the drive down and overnight was just as wonderful. That’s not something we can do very often, but we can seek little ways to get fellowship with our friends in smaller doses more frequently. We should.

Because friend, I know motherhood is hard. It’s hard and wonderful and challenging and amazing and exhausting in more ways that one. But you know what? I get you! Hang in there. You can do this!

So what do you think?
Do you think moms need Girlfriend Time, too?

 Background Image Source: Teacup Coffee Flower by Elizabeth Lindhag

When Valentine’s Day is Hard

Valentine’s Day has always been a hard day for me. When my marriage started to crumble it became almost unbearable. Even now almost 4 years later the day is still hard. Watching couples gush over each other is hard. Seeing beautiful pregnant ladies is hard. Watching families playing together at the playground is hard. It’s hard all year round but there’s something about a day that supposed to be all about love that makes it harder.

When Valentine's Day is Hard: Encouragement for single moms

Feel the pain but don’t wallow in self pity

What are we to do when our homes and hearts are broken and there’s love all around? Feel the pain. Anytime that you try to ignore that ache in your heart you are at risk of making some poor choices. I don’t know about you, but when I start trying to ignore the fact that I’m hurting I usually find myself in a sticky situation.  A situation that always ends up with me in more pain than before I started.

You’ve got to feel the pain to get to the healing. But don’t throw yourself a pity party.

Forgive the person that’s causing you pain

Yes I know it’s the last thing that you want to do but you have to. The hardest thing that I’ve ever had to do was to forgive my ex for walking out on our family. But I had to do it or I was going to be no good to my children, my friends or anyone else that came across my path.

If you are at the point where you are in new relationships it may be a little tricky. You get your hopes tied up that maybe this man is the one, that maybe you’ll get it right this time. And then it doesn’t work out the way you expected. Maybe you both realize that it’s not a good fit. Maybe you decide that you just aren’t ready for a commitment yet. Or maybe, dear sister you find yourself ready to commit to someone else and they reject you.

Whatever the situation forgive. Every single time you think about that hurt they caused, forgive. Forgive them and then forgive yourself.

Remember that He loves you

My last piece of encouragement for you is to remember that He loves you. God loves you all the time no matter what. When your husband tells you that you aren’t pretty anymore, God says you are beautiful.  When you feel worthless and unwanted remember that Jesus loved you so much that He died on the cross for you. When that person that you care about so much decides to betray and hurt you, God loves you. He loves you and will be there to pick up the pieces of your broken heart and make you whole again.

Have some fun

I know that getting through Valentine’s Day is hard, but one of the best ways to avoid overfocusing on our own pain is to focus on others.  I do that by having fun with my boys on February 14th. Here are some suggestions for you:

  • Watch A Charlie Brown Valentine
  • Bake and decorate some heart shaped cookies
  • Spend the day with some good friends
  • Make some cards with your children and take an hour or so to deliver them personally
  • Get all dressed up and take your children out for a meal or let them take you out (even you have to give them the money to do it)

If you are hurting today please leave a comment so I can pray with you. You don’t have to leave any details a simple “pray for me” will do.

~LaToya, Learning to Let HIM Lead

Heidi St John Guide to Daylight

Finding Rest Through Surrender

surrender_and_rest

 

Are you struggling and in need of rest?  As mothers, we spend our lives taking care of others. So how do we find refreshment and rest for our own bodies and our own souls?

In Matthew, Jesus said,

Matthew 11:29

New International Version (NIV)

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I’ve been thinking about what that means during this season of recovering from surgery and walking through some difficult changes in my life.  It’s caused me to stop and think about whether or not I’ve taken His yoke, or if I’m wearing a yoke of my own design.  One thing’s for sure: when I wear a yoke of my choosing, it’s not a “easy” or “light.”  It’s burdensome and heavy.

God wants His children to learn to conform to His heart for them. He wants to carry our burdens with us. More often than not, I’m discovering that whenever I struggle under the weight of a trial in my life it’s because I’ve been unwilling or unable to surrender to the season of life that the Lord has me in.

In the verse above, we can see that Jesus extends an invitation to rest—and He gives three things we must do in order to find that rest from burdens we carry:

  1. Come to Me: God wants us to come to Him first, before we do anything. Before we take on a project or say “yes” to another weekly activity.  He wants us to come to Him.
  2. Take My Yoke: Don’t take God’s good idea for someone else’s family on yourself.  Jesus taught us that that His yoke is designed just.for.you; for your soul alone. 
  3. Learn from Me: I think Jesus’ gentle reminder here was intended to keep us from relying on the teachings men rather than getting into God’s Word and seeking after Him personally.  As we have seen over and over, people fail.  But God doesn’t. His heart is that we would seek Him first.

So why do we still struggle, even after we’ve come to Christ?  Here’s the key:  Jesus said in John 15:4,

“Remain in Me, as I also 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.”

It’s the abiding that gets us most of the time, isn’t it?  Surrendering and laying down our will for His is something we must do. It’s an act of the will. When we choose to remain in Him, we find rest.  Rest is found in remaining in Christ when things get tough.  This doesn’t mean thing will be easy—but I’m here to bear witness to God’s unfailing mercy and the peace He gives that really does “pass all understanding.”

If you’re struggling to find a way to surrender to the Lord today, remember that He’s waiting for you.  The God of the Universe is waiting—just for you.  We are loved by our Creator!

Surrender is a daily thing.  Ask the Lord to help you abide in Him today, busy mom.  Ask Him to help you learn what surrender looks like.  He wants to carry your burden with you.

Stay surrendered and find rest,
signature-heidi

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Heidi St John Firmly Planted Family Devotional For All Ages

A Friendship That Lasts

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Proverbs 17:17
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

Have you ever struggled with loneliness or maintaining friendships? Over the years, I have noticed how sensitive I can be (and I wrote about this recently).  I wrote specifically about the dangers of social media, because thanks to the Internet, we can see things that we were never able to see before: that party that we didn’t get invited to, the women’s ministry team that went out for lunch and I saw pictures of it but never received an offer to join in.

As women, it’s easy to take those things and internalize them. I’ve noticed too, that women in mid-life often struggle with relationships.  As the children grow, the demands on our time change. As the family grows, the dynamics change. The demands on my time are so much greater now than they were when all of our children  were little.  I have five  young children at home and my oldest children are in their early twenties.  The older ones are going through their own sort of growing pains, spreading their wings—and they need me in a different way than the little ones do—all this means that at the end of the day, I’m very tired—and I have less time now for things outside my immediate family than I once did.

Have you been there too?

I’m so glad for friends that understand seasons of life.

As the years pass, I find that the friendships I cherish the most are with those women that I can run and visit with at the drop of a hat.  A dear friend of mine who I may or may not hear from for months at a time will give me me a call just to say, “Hey! I was just praying for you!  Tell me how you’re doing.” Those friendships last.

They last because we choose to believe the best about each other, rather than the worst. We believe the best for each other, too.  If you’re struggling with a friendship today, I want to encourage you to ask the Lord to give you His eyes for your friend.

As many of you know, I have a mantra.  It is “No Drama, Mama!”  I really believe that the Lord would have us extend grace to each other.  If you have a friend who is not “hitting the mark” in your relationship today, ask the Lord to give you His perspective. As Him to give you grace for your friend for that moment and then see what He’ll do.

True friendships are worth it.  They’re worth investing in and they will survive the tough seasons of life.

A friend loves at all times,
heidi

Heidi St John Firmly Planted Family Devotional For All Ages

The Illusion of Doing It All

privilege_parentingOnce in a while, people ask me how I “do it all.”  I usually cringe at the question—because I’m never sure how to answer it without a long drawn-out explanation of how I can’t possibly even pretend that I can do it all.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately—Pinterest and Facebook and blogging have created this illusion that moms can have it all and do it all. I believe that the illusion is hurting us.  As I write this, I’ve finished school (hooray) but the dishes are not done and the laundry is piling up.  I am pretty sure I had it done yesterday.  I had the house all tidy and in a matter of a few hours it looks like a war zone. Honestly. Oh well.

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As I said in yesterday’s Quiet Time Talk, nothing else compares to spending time with the ones God has given to us. The privilege of parenting lasts just for a season. It ends as quickly as it begins. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss it.

You may see me posting on Facebook and wonder how I’m “there” so much.  Well, I’ve decided to pull back the curtain a little more on my life so that you can see what it really takes manage a family and homeschool while I write books and blog and speak. Not because I’ve got it all together—but because I don’t.

Life just happens while we’re busy making other plans, doesn’t it?  One minute I’ve got the world by the tail and the next I’m sitting the ER with a toddler.

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It occurred to me a few weeks ago that it looks like I  am on Facebook every few hours because I’ve wanted it to look that way to some degree. I wanted to look like I was there, because I care about the people I’ve come to know and look forward to reading comments, etc. Lately though, I’ve wondered  if that’s actually hurting my message of being “in life” more and online less. So, allow me to be very honest: In reality, I’m there at my page just a couple times each day.  Most of my posts are scheduled early in the morning when I’m by myself and can think straight.  Of course, every once in a while I’ll post something that’s happening that strikes me as funny or that I think would encourage my readers.

Those of you who know me know that I like to share life with others. However… I can also get easily distracted and the computer can be a huge time waster for me.  I can’t do school effectively with it open—something I struggle with all the time.  I’ve discovered that the best way for me to do what I need to do is to plan ahead and to get help.  I am always praying for balance and giving my agenda to the Lord so that He can help me sort it out.  When I don’t do this, I struggle with feelings of guilt and insecurity. It’s become crucial in my life to find a balance in the way I spend my life’s energy.

I want to spend it on the things that matter the most.

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If you’re struggling to find balance, you’re not alone. It’s illusive, but it’s there. We just have to keep asking, keep trying.

Speaking of finding balance—I’ve known for some time that I can’t be the only one that writes at my blog. I’m a huge fan of getting other perspectives and sharing the load.  I also believe that God would have me be wise about how I spend my time, and part of that journey has led me to seek out a team of writers for The Busy Mom.

On Friday, you’ll meet them. There are 19 contributing writers coming from many different walks of life.  Some large families, some small.  Some homeschool, some do not. They all share of love for the Lord and for their families. The process of choosing writers was not easy. There are so many wise and godly women out there!

I hope you will be encouraged as they share their hearts and ideas with you. I’m so grateful for you all. It’s a tremendous blessing to me to be able to share a little of my heart with you each day. Thank you for being part of The Busy Mom. I hope that in the days to come, you’ll enjoy even more encouragement and we grow and stretch—and I pray we can all find the balance we need to love our families.

It’s there—we just have keep after it.

Balancing with You,
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Heidi St John Guide to Daylight

Moms United: 14 Things We All Have in Common

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How about we spend this space today to dispel some illusions. We might be passionate, committed, focused moms, but that doesn’t mean we are perfect. It doesn’t even mean we are patient.
What it does mean is that we have stepped out in faith, trusting that God is going to lead and guide us. It means that we get to see and experience God in unique ways as we look to Him to be our Answer and Provider.
There are many things that differentiate us as moms. We can distinguish ourselves and our families by our traditions, celebrations, vacations, and habits. It might be the number of children, our educational background, our focus, our discipline methods, our objectives, our geography, our denominations. But we need not allow those things to separate us in our fellowship together or in our encouragement of each other.
I believe that we need to choose to concentrate on the things that we have in common. One of the masterful ways the enemy discourages us is through needless and often destructive comparisons. God has made each of us unique. I propose that we focus on the things we have in common with each other so that we can come together.
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1.  None of us have enough time. Let’s all admit it, we are constantly chasing the clock. The big hand and the little hand are often our worst enemies. The tick-tock, tick-tock rings in our ears, sometimes even over the voices of those around us. It is as though someone turned up the volume such that the sound is not just in the background but in the foreground. It can drown out everything else. Tick-tock echoes from the moment we are awake until we finally fall asleep. And sometimes it follows us into our dreams and we wake with a start. We are all chased by the sound of a large, menacing clock! There is simply not enough time.

2.  All of us have the time He gives us. We may not have all of the time we want or we think that we need, but we do have the time He has appointed for us. He has numbered our days. He orders everything and knows what we need. Using our time wisely becomes our goal. Time is not a renewable resource. It cannot be bought or recovered once wasted. Intentionally using our time wisely is paramount. Spending time with our Heavenly Father in His Word, on our knees, or in worship is never lost time. Enjoying our husband along with reading and laughing with our children are uses of our time well invested in our eternal future.

3.  None of us are getting it all done. We all have to-do lists that exceed our ability to accomplish. Our boxes go unchecked, unmarked, undone. While we enjoy the thrill of marking a few things off, we allow the angst of the items left on the list to multiply such that our stress level is perpetually elevated. Instead of focusing on what we have done, we linger on all that has gone undone. As we look around to others it looks like they are getting it all done or at least they are getting more done than we are. “What is their secret?” we wonder.

4.  All of us are humbled that God uses us. In spite of the fact that I am keenly aware of all that I am not getting done, that I am constantly running behind, that I am chasing a tail I cannot even see, God uses me. Wow. The feeding of the 5000 is where I live. I come with a measly 5 loaves and 2 fishes, clearly short of what is necessary to feed my crowd, and yet God multiplies it to satisfy those around me. It amazes me; He amazes me. He asks only that I give Him what I have and that I offer it to Him freely and without reserve. Trust Him.

5.  None of us have it all figured out. I’ve been married almost 27 years. I have 7 kids ranging in age from 9 to 22 (4 sons and 3 daughters). This marks our 17th year of homeschooling. And yet — brace yourself — I am still learning. There are so many things about marriage and child-rearing that I am still figuring out. God is merciful and gracious as He continues to patiently teach me. Many lessons I have had to learn over and over, but I do not have it down pat yet. One prevailing thing I am learning is that it is my heart attitude that matters most in the midst of this life.

6.  All of us are learning as we go. In the beginning of this journey I innocently thought that I would just need to take some time and figure some things out, like which parenting style worked best for me, which discipline style, which schedule, and then, about the time my oldest was one year old, I could hit cruise control and sail on into safe harbor hands-free. But that is not how this works. No, I am constantly learning. God is continually teaching me about this life, what’s important, my kids, who they are, myself, where I need to grow, and Himself — who He is and how I can trust Him more. This life is a classroom.

7.  None of us feel qualified. I remember when I was in the hospital giving birth to our fourth or fifth child when the nurse commented that she probably didn’t need to tell me anything because I was obviously an expert. All I could think was, “Please don’t assume expertise because of experience.” I do not feel prepared or equipped to face all that motherhood throws at me. I am in way over my head. Being capable or competent or skilled is an ongoing process as I submit to God’s qualification program.

8.  All of us need God. Motherhood is tough. I do not know what I am doing. I don’t know who these kids are or what they need or how to help myself. So much of the time my own issues cloud my vision as to seeing what I need to help them. My junk gets in the way. I can’t do this! I need God to help me, to show me, to show off to me, to wow me. And that is exactly what He is in the business of doing — glorifying Himself. It glorifies Him when I am willing to admit I can’t do it and allow Him to step in and do it. He loves to take good care of me and those I love. We are all in desperate need of His love, grace, forgiveness, and guidance.

9.  None of us should try and do this alone. Even the Long Ranger had Tonto. In order to really accomplish what God has planned to do through us, we need help. We don’t only need each other for encouragement and support, but we also need each other for ideas and inspiration. Trying to navigate this journey by ourselves is a set up for failure. There is so much we are working to accomplish that we need to determine what we can and should delegate to someone else. Are there some tasks or responsibilities we can pay some one to do for us? Can we trade off some duties with another mom? We need to give each other the permission to get the help we need, to say “no” when we need to, and to pull back when necessary — all without judgment or criticism. Maybe there are even some tasks that we don’t need to be attempting at all! 

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10.  All of us need help/each other. We were made for fellowship. Person-to-person, one-on-one, physical (not virtual) fellowship. We need each other — the support, the encouragement, the smiles, the affirmation, the touch. We need to have a community where we can go on tough days or when we have something to celebrate. God did not intend for us to do this by ourselves. We need to be willing to be vulnerable to each other and reap the rewards of walking this journey together.

11.  All of us have cried ourselves to sleep. This is something we have probably done more times than we care to remember. We have all done it. I have gone to sleep on a pillow wet with my own tears — convinced we are a bad mom. I can recall thinking that I was the worst mom ever because I didn’t play a game, or read a book, or chase a kite. I was the worst because I didn’t finger paint, or play with play dough, or even color a picture. For goodness sake, my kids have outgrown their clothes, gone to church with dirty finger nails, and were rude to each other in public. The enemy of the soul screams, “You are a failure!” and the tears flow. Surely things go undone and opportunities are missed, but God not only collects our tears in a bottle, He also comforts us in our failures as we give them over to Him.

12.  All of us marvel at how God redeems all our mistakes. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!” Talk about good news! All of those mistakes I have made are places where God glorifies Himself through His redemptive work or turning my mistakes into something beautiful for Himself. He is the great Redeemer. When I fall, when I fail, it is not wasted. He not only picks me back up again, but He also makes something out of all my nothing.

13.  All of us have wondered if we are messing up our kids. All of us have unique family circumstances, traditions, and habits. At our house, we laugh a lot, quote movie lines, and behave in a way that is generally goofy. Meals at our house are loud affairs. They are not loud because of the forks and knives, but because of the lively discussions in which we engage. But on top of that we have chosen to homeschool. That is arguably a strange and counter culture decision. But homeschooling moms are not the only ones who think this. Public and private school moms wonder the same thing. 

14.  All of us love our kids. Our kids have changed our lives. Many of us were unaware we could love this deeply. We didn’t know how selfish we were or how selfless we could be. We were unaware of how our children could take hold of our hearts while we were working to mold theirs. Our Heavenly Father loves His children, too. He loves us so much. As we love our kids well we point them to the Father’s love for them.

15.  Let us stand strong together on what we have in common. Let us not allow our differences to separate us. Let us grant to one another the freedom and the permission to be who God has ordained for us to be. Let us follow Him and shine brightly for Him. Let us encourage one another. Let us pray for one another. Let us cry together and laugh together. Let us determine to walk this road of motherhood together for the praise of His glory!

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Rachael Carmen has been married to her Man (Davis) since 1986. Their life together has been a roller coaster ride with God at the controls. They have seven kids with whom they love to laugh — family dinners are one of their favorite times as a family. Rachael loves to play in the dirt, enjoy dark chocolate, walk on the beach, and relax with a good book. She is the author of two books herself: Soundbites from Heaven and How to have a HEART for Your Kids. She loves her family but is first of all a daughter of the King of Kings. Rachael is passionate about God’s Word and encouraging moms to pursue Him with all their hearts. She and Davis are the owners of Apologia Educational Ministries.  You can find Rachael on:  HisSunflower.comFacebookTwitterPinterestGoogle+Instagram

Heidi St John Guide to Daylight

Gossip Girl

gossip

gos·sip

/ˈgäsip/
noun.
Casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.

Talk much?

Proverbs 16:28 “A useless person causes trouble and a gossip ruins friendships.”

Ouch.

Guilty as charged. I am sorry to say that I have done this. I’ve also been on the receiving end of gossip. And guess what?

The Bible is right. It does ruin friendships.

As I get older, see more clearly I have seen the damage that gossip inflicts. Sometimes, is out and out gossip–but most of the time, it starts off innocently enough, and slides the slippery slope into gossip.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)

Gossip is not only damaging to ourselves and others, it also invites drama into our lives. A few years ago, I made a commitment to rooting “drama” out of my life as much as I could.

This means being careful about what I say

  • On Facebook – including “vague-booking”  JUST SAY NO TO VAGUE-BOOKING
  • To my family
  • In front of my children (conversations that they may misread included)
  • About others –

It’s not easy! I find that I am constantly asking the Lord to guard my lips.

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If you’re struggling with the words you say, try asking the Lord to help you develop a mental checklist to help you discern right from wrong.  Here’s something I’ve been using to determine whether or not my words are helping or hurting those around me:

Are my words

  1. Loving?
  2. Assuming the best rather than the worst?
  3. True?
  4. Motivated by jealousy or envy?
  5. Benefitting the person who is listening to them?

Everyone has said something they know is hurtful. I wonder what our friendships would look like if we truly preferred one another.

Let’s temper our speech with love today.

Let’s leave the gossip to cheap magazines (and then–let’s not buy them.)

Let’s encourage each other, busy mom! We need all the encouragement we can get.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
I Thessalonians 5:11

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Heidi St John Guide to Daylight