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3 Ways to Decrease Life’s Demands

by Amanda on October 2, 2009
category: Inspiration

lounging Today I was over at Zen Habits and I came across Leo’s most recent post titled, “There’s No Task Easier Than No Task.” The point of the post is how the fastest way to get an item off your to do list is to “just delete it or don’t put it there in the first place.”

How freeing is saying no when asked to do something? Do you find it hard to say no? Do you find it hard to put some things off for another day?

Moms loves to multi-task. We wear how much we get done in one day as a badge of honor. When my husband gets home from work I love to list out everything that I did that day for him. He could care less. As long as the kids and I are healthy, he is happy.  Sometimes we moms are the only ones putting these demands on ourselves.

Here are 3 Ways to Decrease Your Life’s Demands:

1. Only tackle 2 or 3 large items each day.

I have been taking each day as it comes and breaking it down into what 2 or 3 big items I can complete that day. Today my 3 items are a meeting at church, writing this blog post, and finishing a book for tomorrow’s book club meeting. Of course I will care for my kids and make dinner, but anything else that gets done is icing on the cake. Maybe tomorrow I will tackle some laundry, but I won’t try to wear myself out tackling every project that needs to get done.

2. Only do things you are passionate about.

I am passionate about my kids, my family, this site, running, and some functions at church. How many times do we go to meetings or events that are boring or you just feel obligated to go to? I feel obligated to help friends paint a room or bring a meal, but sometimes I have to say no. My children are not into extracurricular activities yet, but I often make play dates for them and myself. I am the one that does a lot of “extras.” I need to say “no” for me and my family.

3. Rest!

Do you ever feel guilty about taking a night “off” or taking some down time? During the work week I try to keep one day open where the kids and I stay home and recover. I rest before a big eventful day or the day after. We stay in our pajamas and watch a movie. I think my kids will appreciate these days where we get to hang out together more than the days we are rushing around.

There are some things that must get done like cleaning underwear, but other things can wait. We should consider what is essential and what is non-essential when making our to do lists. Maybe an item never has to be on your to do list in the first place.

Do you feel like you put more demands on yourself than anyone else? What can’t you say No to? Do you stress out about what you haven’t got done?

Abiding Monday: Fraught With Worry

momcrowd_abidingmonday2_300x215[1] Worry has been following me around lately.  I know how to combat it – I posted about praying for peace mere weeks ago – yet I am still being pestered with a fear about this or a worry about that.  It is so annoying!  And it’s a domino effect this time around; when one thing is resolved, another issue arises, giving my weary soul minimal rest in between.

At the moment, my worry is for my son.  He’s kinda accident-prone.  He’s a toddler, so saying he trips up on his own feet doesn’t mean that much.  But he does.  Trip up on his own two feet, that is.  Regularly.  This has resulted in some pretty nasty bumps on his head.  (People actually look surprised when they see he is bump-free.)  Last week, he fell on his face again, and the bump is an ugly combo of red, purple, blue and yellow.  I can’t tell you how many times I have prayed over his little head, yet I cannot shake the worry that comes with being his mom.  I seriously break down in sobs whenever he hurts himself.

Max Lucado’s latest book, Fearless, has a chapter about worrying for our kids’ safety.  He says,

We tend to forget this fact, regarding our children as “our” children, as though we have the final say in their health and welfare.  We don’t.  All people are God’s people, including the small people who sit at our tables.  Wise are the parents who regularly give their children back to God (58).

Lucado says we have two choices when faced with our childrens’ struggles (health or otherwise): to despair over what can happen, or to believe in Jesus’ power to love and care for them.  Now, I realize that a bump on my son’s head is small potatoes compared to what else can happen to him – maybe compared to what has happened in your child’s life.  Yet the despair I have felt is very real, and dealing with it is not easy.

As one might expect, prayer is the key remedy.

Prayer is the saucer into which parental fears are poured to cool.  Jesus says so little about parenting, makes no comments about spanking, breast-feeding, sibling rivalry, or schooling.  Yet his actions speak volumes about prayer.  Each time a parent prays, Christ responds.  His big message to moms and dads?  Bring your children to me.  Raise them in a greenhouse of prayer (60).

I believe in this advice, and I have been stubbornly giving my fears about my son’s injuries to Jesus, again and again, each time I feel them.  Even though I wish I could put the boy in a plastic bubble and roll him everywhere in a cocoon of safety, I turn to God to increase my trust in Him.  I involve my kids in this praying, too, saying prayers aloud while Eli plays and inviting both of my children to pray aloud for his head during bedtime prayers.

If my worries are going to persist, my prayers must persist as well.

Jesus, thank you for keeping watch over our children as they come and go.  Thank you for standing beside us as a protective shade.  Thank you for being our help.  We depend on you.  Amen.

What Psalms comfort you during your time of worry (mine was paraphrased above, Psalm 121)?  Is your prayer time proportionate to the time you spend worrying?  How do you work through your fears?

Abiding Monday: The Give and Take of Relationships

by Dawn on September 21, 2009
category: Abiding Monday,Inspiration


So how did everyone do with the mouths closed, ears open challenge from last week?  I was constantly being given the opportunity to practice what I wrote, and let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty!  I’m a work in progress, what else can I say?

This week I thought I’d share a few verses from Psalm 86, a beautiful prayer.

“Bend down, O Lord, and hear my prayer; answer me, for I need your help.”

~ Psalm 86: 1

I love the idea of the Lord “bending down” to hear our prayers.  I think of my daughter or son when they ask me for something, or if they are upset and need comforting.  I get on my knees, down to their eye level, and hold them.  It is difficult for me to show my love for my kids if I am towering over them in those moments.

That’s a nice picture of God’s care for us.  We go through different struggles and pain throughout our lives, and He might seem far off.  But He’s really right there, ready to listen and console us.  Asking God to bend down and hear our prayers conveys to me the idea that God treats us with gentleness.  We are His children.

“Be merciful, O Lord, for I am calling on you constantly.”

~ Psalm 86: 3

I’m still thinking of the mom/child parallel here, and the adverb “constantly” couldn’t be more appropriate!  I feel like a very under-tipped waitress at flair times.  “Mommy, may I have a snack?”  Sure.  Here you go.  Five minutes later:  “Mommy, I need more water.”  Okay.  Will there be anything else?   (Check out one of my favorite pieces of “flair” on Facebook!)  Though I am joking, this is not unlike how we approach God.  We take our many requests to Him, and He wants us to.  He wants to care for us the way we care for our children, showing them mercy and providing for their needs.

“I will call to you whenever trouble strikes, and you will answer me.”

~ Psalm 86: 7

My kids ask me for a lot of things.  Sometimes I give them the answers they want, and other times, I have to say, “I’m sorry.  The answer is ‘no’.”  When they’re inconsolable and won’t listen to reason, I hear myself saying, “I know it’s hard.  But it will not always be this bad.”  In verse 7, we know God will answer us – it’s a promise.  It just might not be the answer we are expecting – or the one we want.

With whatever you’re facing this week, I encourage you to read through all of Psalm 86.  There is so much of God’s goodness described, and the psalmist just wants to praise Him for it.  Make it a part of your prayer time.  No concern you might have is too small (or too big) for God to bend down and hear.

Lord, your love for us is very great, stronger than the love we have for our children.  Help us remember to approach you frequently, humbly, and gratefully.  And thank you for bending down to hear us.  Amen.

Blessings to you this week, readers!

5 Tips to Stop Yourself from One-Upping Others in Conversation

by Amanda on September 14, 2009
category: Humor/Random,Inspiration,Practical Tips

Yesterday Dawn wrote a great post about controlling our tongues. Unbeknownst to Dawn I have had in my drafts a little post about One-Upping in conversation. I think this would be a nice companion piece to continue the topic of choosing our words wisely.

Whether knowingly or not we have all probably told a one-upping story in conversation, on Facebook, on blogs, or on Twitter. One-upping is easily done when mothers are talking about their kids’ accomplishments. Let’s take Susan and Amber as an example. Susan shares with Amber that her baby started crawling when he was 8 months old. Then, Amber immediately replies that her baby started crawling at 6 months! Amber may honestly be sharing her own experience, but it comes across as One-Upping. The best response would be to be excited for Susan. If Susan wants to know when Amber’s child started crawling, then let her ask.

One-upping can be hurtful or make another mother feel like a bad mom. All too often we jump right into sharing our own stories, experience, and accomplishments after someone shares about their own experience. Let’s be excited for one another without trying to one-up each other! Each mama has a different experience with each child. Sometimes there is no point in comparing our kids. Let’s celebrate each others’ accomplishments, not compete with each other.

Here are 5 ways to stop ourselves from one-upping in conversation.

1. Make a mental note to be aware that you may be one-upping and make an effort to stop!

2. Listen to what is being said without thinking about what you are going to say next  while they are talking.

3. Be slow to speak. Choose your words wisely.

4. Make a point to express your happiness for your friends after they share an experience.

5. Don’t share an anecdote of your own child unless you are asked.

Penelope is a hilarious character on Saturday Night Live who one-ups everyone. She cracks me up.  Here is a funny Penelope skit, plus it has Amy Adams. (Hulu puts an ad in front of the video, but hey, its free!)

Have you ever found yourself one-upping in conversation? Do you know anyone that is a one-upper? Does it make you want to share with them?

Abiding Monday: Mouths Closed, Ears Open!

by Dawn on September 14, 2009
category: Abiding Monday,Inspiration,Practical Tips

momcrowd_abidingmonday2_300x2151 My dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.  Your anger can never make things right in God’s sight. James 1: 19-20

Those who control their tongue will have a long life; a quick retort can ruin everything. Proverbs 13:3

One of my unpleasant habits is that I am an interrupter.  Not all of the time, but sometimes.  I might be in the middle of an exciting conversation with a good friend, and we’re both mutually interrupting.  I think that’s just fine.  However, most of my interruptions occur when I’m arguing with my husband.  When all is right with the world, it is easy for me to patiently keep my mouth closed while others are talking.  But when tensions are running high and my patience is on vacation, my mouth always gets the best of me.  In addition, I tend to rattle off all kinds of sentences in quick succession when I am feeling nervous.

As moms, moms-to-be, wives, friends, children, and siblings, we can take away valuable lessons from both verses above.  First, speaking quickly can get us into trouble.  Both verses urge us to slow down in conversations – to look the other person in the eye, hear their voice, appreciate what they are trying to say.  Maybe even wait a few seconds before responding to a question.  It can be difficult to practice this type of deliberate thoughtfulness, but it yields great results!

Think of it this way: when we hear from someone via e-mail and need to reply, we don’t often send the first draft back immediately.  We delete, correct ourselves, omit things that might be misconstrued, etc.  We might even save the response in the Drafts folder and go back to it later, giving the words time to settle.  Do you ever wish your face-to-face conversations could have that feature?  Most of the time, our tongues are on autopilot.

Another thing I notice in these verses is that the consequences of a quick tongue are pretty dire!  “Can never make things right in God’s sight”:  ouch!  “Can ruin everything”: sucky!  The damage of a hurtful mouth can be severe, causing pain to exist between ourselves and others for who knows how long.  Of course, forgiveness and grace go a long way in repairing what has been broken.  But scripture tells us we can prevent the damage to begin with: “Those who control their tongue”.  This means our tongues do not control us!  We are not victims to what our mouths say.

I encourage you to ponder the control of your tongue this week.  Catch yourself when you go on autopilot and remind yourself to listen first.   I wonder what damage we will have prevented by taking control of our mouths!

Lord, forgive us for our quick retorts.  Replace our hurtful words with godly silence, and help us love others by listening more.  Amen.

Have a great week, Mom Crowd!

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