Mombarded by Expectations

expectationsToday’s post is excerpted from Mombarded: When Motherhood Bombards Your Heart, Mind, and Life: a devotional journey that gives you 52 devotionals (and space to journal) to encourage and challenge you to help you continually grow as a mom…through the mombardment of responsibilities, emotions, pressures, frustrations, and adventures. Preorder today and receive free shipping.

I sat across the table from another mom, and we shared our struggles. We realized just how similar we are and wondered how similar we are to other moms out there. We look around and see others’ lives and think they’re so much better or worse off than we are, but how can we really know that unless we take the time to get to know them, listen to them, share with them? Even then, we’re not going to be able to get to know everyone. So, the least we can do is not project our expectations onto them or assume they’re projecting their expectations onto us.

It hurts when someone doesn’t respect your choices as a mom, especially when it’s someone whose respect has value to you. Don’t be surprised when someone thinks your choice to be a stay-at-home mom means you don’t have much to do or that you are solely dependent on your husband or others. Maybe people think you’re too child-focused or not smart enough to get a “real job.” Perhaps they think you have it easy because you’re home all day. Also, don’t be surprised when someone things your choice to work full-time is a priority of money over caring for your kids, that you’re more interested in your position than your kids’ security. Maybe people think you’re shirking your parenting duties. Perhaps they think you have it easy, because you can do what you want instead of letting your kids’ schedules influence your choices (as if any parent really believes that’s a real option).

No matter what your choices—and sometimes a lifestyle you didn’t actually choose—people will stereotype. So will you. What do you assume about unmarried moms, divorced moms, older moms, teen moms, working moms, homeschool moms, work-from-home moms, adoptive moms, homeless moms, and the list goes on? In some cases, you might have an immediate positive response, but I imagine you also have some strong negative responses or assumptions. We think someone has it easier than we do, someone is slacking, or someone is doing the whole mom thing wrong.

Why do we do that?

While it might not be true all the time, the main reason is: we’re threatened. We don’t understand why someone would choose the way we didn’t choose. We want to justify ourselves. But it’s not all about choices. And even when a choice was involved, who are we to say that person didn’t choose the best option for herself and her child as they faced their specific situation? Even when she didn’t choose the best option, shouldn’t we be a bit more understanding? After all, I certainly haven’t made the best decisions every step of the way.

Be more compassionate and understanding. You can encourage someone even if you don’t completely understand or agree with how she’s parenting. Maybe a little patience and compassion is just what she needs to take the next best step. Judgment certainly isn’t going to help.

Meanwhile, lighten up on yourself a bit, too. When someone judges you, extend compassion and patience…to her and to yourself. Someone else’s expectations of you don’t define you. Neither do your own.

Who have you recently judged?
Identify the assumptions you’ve made, then extend an apology, patience, or mercy.

Click on Mombarded and order today.
Click on Mombarded and order today.

Mombarded by Helplessness

pandaToday’s post is excerpted from Mombarded: When Motherhood Bombards Your Heart, Mind, and Life: a devotional journey that gives you 52 devotionals (and space to journal) to encourage and challenge you to help you continually grow as a mom…through the mombardment of responsibilities, emotions, pressures, frustrations, and adventures. Preorder today and receive free shipping.

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do.
How can I get my baby to stop crying?
How can I help my baby fall asleep?
How can I help my little one learn?
How can I help my teen get over rejection and judgment?
How can I help my nearly adult child make those important life-guiding decisions?

Every time we face a new problem, we’re reminded that even though we’re older, more experienced, and perhaps wiser than our children, we still go through things for the first time with them. Even as we have younger children go through similar circumstances, we continue to learn, because our children are different. We’re not completely confident in everything we do. Our children sometimes see us as having it all together, and that might give us a boost of confidence, but we know better.

We’re just trying our best.
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he more humble we get, the more we realize that it’s actually okay to not know it all. It doesn’t let us off the hook. We still have responsibility. But it relieves some pressure. We get to move forward with uncertainty but with determination. We have a confidence, not in what we are capable of doing, but in the assurance that God gives us as we follow Him.

We’re not as helpless as we feel, because we always have God’s help.

It doesn’t mean we are always fully confident we’re following well or that He’s completely invested in what we’re doing—even if we deeply believe that but situationally doubt it. Our confidence doesn’t rely on the outcome as much of the process, the relationship of our dependence on God. It means we trust Him. We know Him. We go to Him.

When God is our help, we are never helpless. We may be incapable at times, but He isn’t. We may not have the wisdom and perspective we know we need, but He does. We may not have the strength to persevere, but

He does.

He doesn’t always give us a specific answer to a problem. Our baby still cries. Our toddler still struggles. Our teen still gets overwhelmed. But we persevere toward God through the variety of situations. We know that our response is important, not just because we need a quick solution but because we have a reliable God. Honoring Him becomes more important than getting the solution we want.

Helpless doesn’t mean hopeless.

How do you need to have hope?
How much do you trust God to help you?

Click on Mombarded and order today.
Click on Mombarded and order today.

 

Mombarded by Limits

fenceToday’s post is excerpted from Mombarded: When Motherhood Bombards Your Heart, Mind, and Life: a devotional journey that gives you 52 devotionals (and space to journal) to encourage and challenge you to help you continually grow as a mom…through the mombardment of responsibilities, emotions, pressures, frustrations, and adventures. Preorder today and receive free shipping.

We can’t do it all.

Our children can’t do it all.

We’re limited.

And you know what? I’m glad! We put enough pressure on ourselves. We fill every nook and cranny of time. We push the limits. Which assumes there are limits.

God didn’t create us to do it all. I don’t even know what “doing it all” entails. Do you? We each have assumptions of what it might entail, but isn’t it just that: our own assumptions? We all know we can’t actually do it all, but we want to be able to do the all that we think is most important.

We really can’t even do that. Even for those moms who are pretty laid back and take things as they come, let go of things easily, and find contentment in everyday reality, there are times when they go to bed with something undone they would have preferred to have done. They have moments of “I probably should have” or “I probably shouldn’t have.” They might be less wracked with guilt than other moms, but limits press in on them just the same.

Then there are the moms who try to live nearly every detail of their lives within limits. They usually set most of those limits by themselves, and if they’re really honest, many of the limits are unrealistic. Instead of looking at the realistic possibilities, they focus on dreams and ideals. They often underestimate the time, money, or organization something is going to take, so they end up feeling pressed for time, money, or organization. Sometimes they rely on organization too heavily, so that if you were to pull one thing out of place, the whole day might cave in…along with the family’s sanity.

But most of us fall somewhere in between. We might teeter toward one end of the spectrum or the other, but we have moments of needing to define and live by limits and moments of tossing them aside to be spontaneous. We can’t live with either extreme, because limits exist, and we are indeed limited. Once we recognize that, life gets (a little) easier.

God puts limits in our lives, not to restrain us as much as to give us boundaries to fully enjoy the freedom of the lives He has given us. Limits give us the boundaries to know that we can step on every single inch of ground within the limits and savor, explore, claim, nourish, and enjoy. There will be enough challenges within those limits. We don’t need to constantly run to the fence and climb it to long and reach for what is on the other side. When we do, we miss out on what’s on our side.

Yes, time, energy, relationships, opportunities, and abilities are all limited. But the possibilities within those limits contain way more opportunities than we’re taking. Focus. Not for busyness sake but for intentional attention’s sake.

What really needs your attention today?

Click on Mombarded and order today.
Click on Mombarded and order today.

Giveaway: You Don’t Have to Be a Superhero to Change the World

UTF-8'en-us'9781470723637Welcome to Day Two of three consecutive days of giveaways. In the past week, I’ve celebrated the release of three books to which I’ve had the honor of contributing. Today’s giveaway is a copy of You Don’t Have to Be a Superhero to Change the World: 52 Devotions for People Who Are Making a Difference. I hope today’s excerpt encourages and challenges you. If you’d like to read more (or give this book as a gift), simply leave a comment on the blog or Facebook. I’ll contact the winners at the end of the week. Remember to check back tomorrow for one more giveaway!

Hot Service

“And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”—Acts 20:35

We put on our “Church Ladies” shirts, loaded the van with bottled water, and headed out to serve. It was a scorching summer day, exactly the kind of day we wanted. We knew there were plenty of people who didn’t have the option to get out of the heat, and if we could help by giving them a refreshing drink and a smile, we were going to do it.

We started in our small town and immediately found two men replacing some tile on a walkway. They wondered why we were out on such a hot day just to hand out water, but once we explained, they welcomed the short break…and even invited us to finish their job and let them deliver water instead!

After sharing water with others working outdoor jobs throughout our town, we decided to take the rest of the water to a nearby city, knowing we’d find more people to serve. We started in a low-income housing project where most everyone was sitting outside trying to escape the rising indoor heat without air conditioning. We made sure to ask parents before sharing with children and gave extra bottles to those willing to deliver to family members who were inside. While some might have warned we weren’t in a safe neighborhood, we were confident we were safe. We had peace as we gave and blessings as we received, hearing “God bless you!” many times. One man blessed us by flagging us down to tell us we were on a one-way street. Oops.

We continued through other areas of the city, watching for anyone sitting or working outside. We had a fun conversation with two boys on bikes who were intrigued by our efforts to help others. It was simple: We just wanted others to know God provides and refreshes. We shared refreshing sips of water with people, but we were soaked in God’s refreshment as we served.

A Prayer for Today: Dear God, thank you for refreshing me. You give me what I need, because you know what I need. I’m sorry I try to define my own needs and get impatient with my circumstances. I get frustrated instead of relying on you. Help me to take my eyes off myself and notice those around me. Give me the courage to serve them in whatever way you lead. Amen.

Excerpted from You Don’t Have to Be a Superhero to Change the World. Copyright © 2015 Group Publishing, Inc. group.com

 

This Week’s 7 – Bible Study

Each Monday on the Pure Purpose blog, I feature This Week’s 7, a simple list about an everyday topic, giving you ideas and encouragement. If you’ve followed my blog for long, you know I’m passionate about Bible study. The best encouragement I could ever give you is to get – and stay – in God’s Word. If you’re already studying, I challenge you not to get complacent. Dig deeper, and keep your studies fresh. If you think studying the Bible is too daunting, just take one step. God meets you where you are, but he doesn’t want you to settle in and stay there. It’s all about growth!

So, today I’m sharing a few tips to help you get started or dig deeper.

  1. BibleGateway.com. Explore and experience a variety of Bible translations. Search for a specific word or look at one verse using multiple translations. You can also access reading plans, verse of the day posts, and much more. Readily available on you laptop or to browse on your mobile device.
  2. Bible Maps. Especially if you’re a visual person, it’s great to see the context of what you’re studying. Explore maps of Bible times and compare them to maps of today. Get familiar with God’s world.
  3. Devotional. Find a devotional to read regularly. Two words of caution: (1) Choose one you know you can digest. If you’re fairly certain you’ll let daily posts sit in your inbox until you purge them weeks later without reading them, try a weekly devotional instead. (2) Look for a biblically-sound devotional, not just one that looks or sounds good. Remember, the goal is to grow, not simply be affirmed to remain where you are. Perhaps you’d rather have something in print or as an ebook.
  4. Audio Messages. Nothing replaces sitting beside others in worship services, but you can continue to stay on track and get inspired through the week by listening to free messages online. Keep in mind the importance of listening to sound biblical teaching. Just because someone places the word “Christian” in front of a teaching doesn’t make it sound. OnePlace.com is my favorite source for listening to messages online. Ask a trusted friend to help you discern where to start if you’re overwhelmed by the choices.
  5. Online Studies. Once again, studying side-by-side and face-to-face others is preferred, but if, for a season, that’s not possible, find a solid group of people to study with online. I recently went through James: Mercy Triumphs by Beth Moore with Bible Cafe for Women as I prepared to lead the same study with a group of women at church. What a fantastic experience! I was able to dig deeply with a small group of women. Women are assigned to small groups, where they can discuss and share in a private Facebook group, as well as connect with the group as a whole in response to weekly blog posts. I was well-prepared to begin leading the study, because I had dug deeply ahead of time. It’s also a great way to sample a study before sharing it with women you know or to enhance a topic you’ve been studying.
  6. Enhance study with music. This is a difficult one to give you specifics about, because the music that moves each of us is so different! However, a great place to begin is Matt Redman’s Heart of Worship. Keep in mind music can be used to enhance your study in a couple ways. Listen to music for God’s guidance of what he wants you to study. As you’re moved by particular lyrics, search Scripture for verses that speak directly to the topic and truth. Or as you’re studying God’s Word, search for music that expresses the truths you’re finding. Let God soak his truths into you with a variety of methods.
  7. Decompartmentalize. Study isn’t just about having your Bible open during a specified time of the day. God doesn’t want us to set aside our study, separating it from our lives. His Word is intended to impact and change our lives, and our lives should motivate our studies. Carry God’s Word throughout your day by writing reminders on sticky notes to put in places you’ll see throughout your routine. Keep a small notebook with you to jot notes when you experience God through your day or a question pops to mind. Break down the walls and invite God to consume every space within you.