What’s Underneath? A Review and Reflection

Brave Moms Brave Kids Review

I am not a scaredy cat mom. Part of that is my personality and part of it is life experience. I’ve seen again and again that fear does not grow hope so I’ve run toward hope boldly more often than not.

So, as I sat down to read Lee Nienhuis’ debut book “Brave Moms, Brave Kids” I was on the fence about this being a book for me but also longing for some encouragement as I strive to be the best mom to my 5 kiddos that I can be. In a world of normalized violence, easy being idolized and the pursuit of more being embraced, we all need words of affirmation to keep running boldly toward hope.

Encouragement was found here. There are two kinds of “mom books” those that tell you how to mom in a three step process and those that give you foundations and principles. This book has a little bit of both.

For the mom who desires more of a directive, Part Three “The Noble Work” is exactly what you are looking for. Here Lee gives great ideas on everything from growing your child’s knowledge about God to giving them the framework to have good relationships. This is a good jumping off point to go from foundational framework to simple, practical implementation such as

“I challenge you to ready the book of Daniel with you kids, asking the question with every paragraph: What did Daniel know about God?”

But for the mom, like me, who is looking for something more, I would challenge you to consider the state of your own heart. Perhaps it isn’t fear that makes motherhood discouraging and exhausting? For me I’ve discovered that my desire for control and my own pride and impatience hold me back from leading my kids well.

In the opening of the book I reflected on this idea…

“Unresolved tension leads us to feel in our very marrow how far we’ve traveled from where we are supposed to be.”

Whether your tension be fear, insecurity, pride or control Brave Moms, Brave Kids may be the vivid reminder many of us moms need to begin again. To quietly and reflectively call us back to the ‘Rock that is Higher than I’ so that we may send the children we love out into the world knowing who they love and who they are loved by.

*****

Want to hear more? Lee made a book intro video!

 

*This book was received from the publisher as an Advanced Reader Copy. All opinions are my own.

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WDIDT: The Big Cover Up #Write31Days

#Write31Days. 1 Topic, 31 Days, Lots of Thoughts.  This year I am reflecting on one small moment a day and why it mattered (or didn’t!). What did I do today?

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It’s fall, it’s chilly, my husband is off for a week of work travel. The kids are up, I’m struggling.

The kids are dressed, ready to head to church in a little bit. Everyone is sitting down at the table and I’ve just served them breakfast. And I’m still struggling.

So, with everyone munching away, I head back up to my room, plop down back on my bed and pull the covers over my head.

It’s not anything in particular. All the kids are healthy, things are good at home, work has been busy but good.

It is just that gut feeling. Where it just “feels” like a hard day.

I know, raising the white flag at 8:15am on a Sunday morning and throwing the covers over my head is not the must adult response. Yet, it was.

In those few quiet moments, with the kids giggling a few rooms away and the calm of the dark enveloping me, I started to pray.

Maybe plea is a better word. It wasn’t a gratitude filled, joy filled, reflective prayer. This prayer was full of my weak, tired, incapable self. I asked, begged, for hope, for help, for the sun to shine in my soul and my attitude and heart to be changed.

I laid there until I heard one of the kids asking for more breakfast. I took a deep breath, threw off the covers and headed back to the kids.

The day, was fine. It was more than fine. I was full of peace, felt rested  and enjoyed my family and friends.

So maybe hiding under the covers isn’t the most mature thing to do but it was sure good for my soul.

What did you do to take care of your soul today?

Prayer.

Praying Hands

…just taking a moment as I walk around my house and fix breakfast to reflect on the almost odd practice of prayer.

Prayer is a practice that I engage often. Sometimes I engage it publicly, but most often privately. Even then, it seems to be such a mysterious and almost mystic practice to me.

I still have so many questions about prayer. I want to know exactly how it works and all the ins and outs of why it matters. I want to know the theology, history and heart of it. There are books and commentaries and papers all about prayer, yet no one experience is the same.

Still, I sit in my questions and musings and realize there are few things that I do know about prayer and those are the things that keep me praying.

I know that prayer heals people. Sometimes it is a healing of the heart and sometimes it is a healing of the body, I have experienced both. Sometimes healing prayer is  laying on hands, sometimes it is setting an alarm to pray, sometimes it is simply stopping in the moment and being with that person. I’ve seen prayer heal and so I keep going.

I know that prayer happens in the desperate moments. Late at night when all the worries of the world are piling up, prayer is there. In the midst of a struggle with a spouse, child, or others, prayer is there. Wading through seasons of crisis and grief prayer is there. It is a comfort of sorts and so, I keep praying.

I know that prayer changes me. I’ve spent almost a year praying for someone I know and I think it’s done more to change my heart than theirs. I know when I pray for hard friendships, difficult family matters and even the struggles of strangers, my heart is awakened to the amount of compassion that I am meant to have for others. I am also reminded of how deeply I am also loved. And so, I keep going.

There are so many things I don’t understand about prayer. I don’t understand why sometimes it’s easier to do with a big voice in a group then it is to do in a quiet whisper in my bedroom. I don’t understand why sometimes it is joyful and sometimes painful. I don’t understand the entire endgame or how the process of communication with God fully works. Yet, I keep praying.

Prayer is a mysterious, mystical discipline. Prayer is changing my life.

“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Ephesians 6:18 NLT

(#31Days) Foundational

 

Saturday’s tend to be lazy days. They aren’t the days for lots of commitments are big decisions. I try and let me kids be kids and let myself rest more than usual.

Not today though. Today I picked up my devotional and read it first thing this morning. I am recommitting to that again.

I say again because for some reason I got out of the habit. I still attend a weekly study and Sunday morning service so its not like I don’t ever open up a Bible or consistently pray. There’s just something about those first moments of a day, the ones that set the tone for the rest of the day.

When I abandon those moments, this small habit, something is lost.

How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!

Why did I abandon this habit? If it really is the practice that shapes my whole day why give it up? I was still up every day (I have kids, waking is not optional!) and I was still reading things, they just weren’t words that give life.

Selfish words, that’s where I was spending my few quiet moments. Opening up Facebook or a Blog or finishing the book I started that week. None of these things inherently bad, but none foundational to my humanity either.

How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!

When the week goes on and I can’t put my finger on what is “off” it dawned on me, I haven’t been starting my day as I used to.

Now before you think I’m ten commentaries deep each morning before my kids get up, think again. I’m not a morning person and I don’t think that well before 10am. When I say I am recommitting to a morning quiet time I am opening up my email to read With God, reading the scripture and saying a prayer for my day.

But, even then, there is something defining about that. Being reminded in my first moments who my life really belongs to and what my day is really about.

It helps me be more patient with my kids, more aware of what needs done today and ultimately that I am loved and worthy and called to give that same gift to others.

How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!

Maybe it isn’t appealing or sounds to “holier than thou” but maybe give it a try. (Seriously, for $1.99/month and 10 minutes of your time you won’t find a better devotional out there!)

#Write31Days

How Firm a Foundation
Robert Keen

How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?

In ev’ry condition — in sickness, in health
In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea–
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am they God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee they deepest distress.

When through fiery trials they pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be they supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and they gold to refine.

E’en down to old age, all my people shall prove
My Sov’reign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs shall they still in my bosom be borne.

Thou soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!

What We Talk About…Rest

“What we talk about when we talk about _________”  is our series for June. Words and language have meaning and provide insight. What is revealed when we reflect on the words we say? Check out the whole series HERE.

I recently found myself in a room of around 2500 people. It felt like the most rest I have had in months.

What we talk about When we talk about Rest...

What we talk about
When we talk about
Rest…

What exactly do we talk about when we talk about rest?

Sometimes rest is a physical need. Late nights, earlier than early mornings, long runs, big events and 40++ hours of work a week can all make someone physically tired. For this we eat for nourishment and sleep for refreshment. We may even exercise for health.

Sometimes rest is a personal need. We are all wired quite differently yet we all need re-energized. Some find this in large gatherings and events while others will find it in the cozy corner of a bookstore. We learn to listen to ourselves and restore and call it rest. When we’ve re-energized we usually feel emotionally full and ready to give to the people and needs around us.

Sometimes rest is a soul need. In a room full of 2500 people who have gathered to talk and plan and connect all around the topic of justice, I had come to listen. To learn. To put myself in an environment outside of my own. To be challenged. Ultimately though, I went to rest.

To rest my soul. To take all the shoulda, coulda, woulda in my life and lay it bare to be examined. To take off my rose colored glasses of marriage and motherhood and see the world from a different angle.

Anne Lindbergh said that “It is not physical solitude that actually separates one from other men, not physical isolation, but spiritual isolation. It is not the desert island nor the stony wilderness that cuts you from the people you love. It is the wilderness in the mind, the desert wastes in the heart through which one wanders lost and a stranger. When one is a stranger to oneself that one is estranged from others too.” (Gift From the Sea)

Soul rest does not have to be complete solitary isolation. What we do need to look for is a place that pulls us from the wilderness in the mind and the desert wastes of the heart and connects us to the unique person we are.

I am a thinker. It is how I am wired. I do dishes and think, play with children and think, fold laundry and think. It is a wilderness and it becomes lonely and weary and sad when there is no plan to execute or job to be done. When the thoughts are just whirling and swirling ‘for fun’. With so much thinking it becomes hard to differentiate between thoughts and feelings, knowledge and self.

Rest for the soul. Rest for the soul looks like listening for me. It is putting all of my thoughts and whims and passions to a firm HALT and hearing the thoughts and whims and passions of others.

It is seeing the beauty of the bigger world we live it. It is being inspired from those so different from myself that I can’t help but be amazed at how unique yet how beautifully connected we are as a Body.

It seems like the practices of meditation and liturgy are creeping back up into the lives of many younger people. There are many assumptions about why this is and I would also submit my own. Meditation and Liturgy forces us to LISTEN and in listening we assume the posture of soul rest.

To slow. To stop having the next great idea, or creating the next big adventure or dreaming that next grand goal. To quit Googling ‘how to’ and asking siri ‘where to’ and checking our text for ‘who to’. Listening for the holy voice and calling it meditation and repeating words of the ancient Scripture and calling it liturgy. In our time, this may be the exact rest a whole generation needs.

For me soul rest looked like 2500 people passionately pursing the call of love and justice and sharing their adventures with each other.

What does rest look like for you?

Small Wonders: One Step

Recently my 11 month old went from wobbly steps to full on walking. The steps are still small and deliberate. As he practices, those small steps will turn into childish gallops and one day a mans stride.

It all starts with one step.

As I watch a world far away in distance but near in humanity I wonder what that one step is that might lead to peace.

In looking ahead for our son while we are in-between support I think about that one step that might lead to clarity.

While I study and pray for the moms dear to my heart I ponder what one small step might change a family.

It all starts with one step.

Marriage, parenting, friendship, justice, peace, eternity. Jesus.

Jesus step was into a garden. His one step was to kneel and pray. To ask for his life while simultaneously being willing to give it.

That’s my one step today. As the sun comes up in the freezing winter air, my socked feet hit the floor and my knees fall next.

One willing step, kneel and pray.

For peace, for hope, for the next step.

Linking today with Field of Wildflowers #SmallWonders

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Dear Friend and New Mom…

Dear Friend and New Mom,

Can I tell you I am over the moon for you? I want to come to wherever you are, bring you a warm cup of tea, hug you and gush, for hours, maybe days.

Gush about all these feelings over the miracle of life. The sweet smell of newborn, that first newborn mom meltdown that we all have, that moment where you cried for the old life and the one where you celebrated all that is new.

Don’t worry, I won’t, I know that doesn’t mesh with newborn life at all, but I thought you should know, you are on my heart and you are LOVED.

See friend, there are 2 things that are unique about you.

First, that you are my friend. This moment is beautiful because however I know you, regardless of the amount of time we have been friends or our physical proximity, we called each other friend that one time. There was a moment in time where you entrusted a part of your heart and life to me. To do so was a risk, but you did and now I want you to know I celebrate this new life, this miraculous moment, with you, wherever you are.

I celebrate with you because I love you. I love you for the woman you were when we met, the mom you have just become and for the amazing person God will call out in you tomorrow.

Second, you are unique because you are on the path of motherhood, one we walk together. Do you know how special that is? Not everyone walks this path. Some by choice and others not. Some get here easily and others not. But you, you are on this path. We are on this path.

There is something beautiful about the bond of motherhood. It seems to transcend time and personal history. It is a tie that binds us together in ways we don’t fully understand.

While unique to each mom, there is an unspoken language of motherhood we seem to receive at birth. That sorrow we share in the hard moments, the joy we share in the easy moments and the laughter in-between the two.

Friend and new mom, I can not express what your baptism into this season does to my heart towards you. I love you more today than I did yesterday and I am sure that this love with grow with each passing day that you nurture and love this new life.

Remember that. Remember that I love YOU.

I will bring you tea and gush with you (but only if that works for you). I will swoop in when I can and rescue you, maybe by entertaining the others in your home, throwing in laundry or dropping off yet another pack of diapers. I will encourage you with words and actions as much as I possibly can. You are being thought of, prayed for and I am holding you close to my heart.

Friend and new mom, remember YOU are loved.

Amidst 3am feedings where you feel both overwhelmed and deeply happy and the tears are coming. When the 14th family member has come to visit and you are thrilled that they all love the baby but what you really want them to say is ‘I notice you and love you too mama.’ At that 1 month mark when all the excitement has died down and you are deep into doing the day to day.

YOU are loved. I love you, just the way you are. Today, tomorrow, the next day and the next.

For Happy Days and With Love,
Rachael