Saturday, April 28, 2012

Made to Fly

A week ago, I had just arrived home from New York, my highlights were fresh and my hair was still coiffed, my nails painted perfectly, my feet blistered from walking all over the City and then toddling around in 4-inch-heels. Today, my unwashed hair is piled in a messy ponytail on top of my head, and my nails are chipped beyond repair, practically begging me to dig into some of the goodies Sally Hansen sent and fix them up. And yet I somehow feel just as comfortable, if not more, with myself today as I parent and discipline and sigh with frustration while chocolate milk splashes over the floorboards in our new van. Which, miraculously, has actually remained clean far longer than I thought it would. In fact, it was probably about time for a good messing-up anyways.

Last week, cameras clicked frantically while approximately seventy-five people looked on. I smiled uncertainly, trying desperately to keep my equilibrium in my heels. I unsuccessfully fought off disappointment and criticism as I stared at my finished product in the mirror and on the camera screen. Your hair is too big. That dress really accentuates that extra baby weight. Your chin is double. If only you were more like the other winners, they're comfortable in front of the camera. They're good at being extroverted and networking and raising money. You will never be enough.


The ridiculousness of my sentiments are not lost on me. I was, for-the-love-of-pete, in New York precisely for the purpose of celebrating who I am. For celebrating the things I do and have done and because some folks believe that I AM enough. And yet. The culture, the media, my past . . . Blame whatever you will, the enemy has many tools for keeping us, especially us woman, in bondage. And I know that my freedom has not been bought without great cost. Yet, again and again, I return to enslavement, choosing to believe lies over truth. Choosing to wallow in self-pity and insecurity. Questioning my worth and believing the world when it tells me I will never be enough.
One of the other winners, Carrie, has a beautiful story of why she started her organization, Severson Sisters. She was bullied mercilessly as a child, to the point that she had to bribe someone to protect her physically at school. She developed a program using creative outlets to help girls find their sense of worth, to help them overcome both being bullied or being a bully themselves. We bonded over similar past experiences, and I pledged to her that I would always pray for and support her ministry because I had been deeply wounded in my past by my own merciless bullies. Later in the trip, I remarked to her how impressed I was that she had so fully moved on from being bullied, and how I sometimes still listened to those voices from my own past. The ones that reminded me every single day of how ugly and fat I was. Who said no one would ever like me or want to be my friend. Who laughed at me and wrote mean songs about me. And do you know what Carrie said? She told me she could tell. That I didn't believe in myself all the time. That I doubt myself and shrug off the good things people tell me in favor of criticism. I laugh and make jokes about myself when people say I should write a book. I squint my eyes and try, but usually fail, to see what people mean when they say I look beautiful. I beat myself up for losing my patience with Jayci, or for being oh-so-tired of carrying around my little twenty-pound miracle baby boy constantly. If I'm honest, I only traded childhood bullies for one far more merciless: myself.

And here's the thing: I just don't think I'm alone. I think there's a whole bunch of other self-bully-ers out there. Because otherwise we wouldn't be over-medicating. We wouldn't drink too much or escape in the vortex of the internet. Eating disorders wouldn't be so epidemic. We wouldn't be "pinning" desperately trying to come up with ways to make ourselves more beautiful, our house more perfect, or our kids more well-behaved. The self-help section of the book store wouldn't be so vast. We wouldn't feel a rush of satisfaction at seeing other kids throw temper tantrums, or a wave of self-doubt when other moms post about how perfect and wonderful their children are and how much they just-absolutely-love-every-single-part-of-being-a-mom.

 
Walking through our neighborhood, I cringe as I hear a mom yelling at her seven-year-old: "you're so stupid." Or when Adam tells me he heard someone at the local school telling a third-grader he wasn't even smart enough for preschool. Because here's the problem with seven year olds and third graders: They believe you. And once they start believing that the things people have said about them and to them are true, then they STOP believing what IS actually true about them. They stop recognizing who they are in the mirror: a perfectly-formed child of God. Suddenly, instead of developing their own identity and voice, they (we) start trying to be something different. To change ourselves, to silence those who speak ill of us by doing more, acting differently, being someone else.


But in doing so, we rob the world of something precious: the person God made us to be. The person I am intended to be is the very person God hand-selected to be a mom to Jayci and Caden. To be a wife to Adam, and a pseudo-mama to hundreds of kiddos in our neighborhood and at camp. To take pictures. To write. And if I stifle those things in favor of making myself more like someone else? If I try to be who I think everyone wants me to be? Then I have to believe that I am robbing the world of something beautiful. I HAVE to believe that.


A few minutes ago, a little girl from next door came frantically banging on our door. Tears ran down dirt-stained cheeks and she clutched a bundle tightly to her chest. I made a mistake she sobbed. I stroked her hair and tried to decipher what she was so upset about. She finally opened her hands to reveal a dead bird. After trying not to panic unnecessarily (have I mentioned I hate birds? Dead or alive, they freak me out), I asked her what happened. Between hiccuping tears she said she was trying to catch it, and accidentally crushed it. And isn't that exactly what happens to us? We try to hold things so tightly, try to encircle the winged hope in our arms. But it is in the grasping and smothering that we crush and kill. We try to control our future, to hold onto status and looks, to be popular and well-liked, to lose the last few pounds and cover up all the imperfections. And somehow in controlling we end up with death. Because life necessitates surrender. Gently holding things with open hands. Offering our future, our lives, our children, our identities to the One who carries them anyways. The one who knows us intimately, who created us with wings, fully intending for us to fly.

But believing is not always easy. And an individualistic, self-reliant culture lends itself to trying harder rather than surrender. But surrender, faith, hope . . . these are the things I cling to when I feel the remnants of old lies grasping at my heart. And I will always, always passionately speak truth to my children and the kiddos. To tell them that no matter what ANYONE else says about them, they have infinite worth and value. That they are precious, beloved, perfect. And I will speak it as loudly as I can, until the voice of Truth is so ingrained in them that they begin to believe in who they were created to be. Because then, my friends, they will change the world.


**A disclaimer for y'all: This was a hard post for me to write. Until like 2 years ago, I hadn't even told anyone besides Adam about being bullied so badly. I was afraid if people in my new home in Georgia knew about how badly I was picked on in my old life in Canada, they would decide to pick on me too. So I just didn't talk about it. Anyways, talking about it now feels important, momentus. And I've struggled and gone back and forth on having the comments opened or closed on this post because I really just dont want people to think I'm looking for compliments or reassurance. I dont just want a bunch of comments on here saying nice things (seriously, I dont). But I'd love for you to email me (Becca1612 at hotmail dot com) if this has resonated with you in some way, and/or you want or need prayer for your own bullies (internal or external) or your kids being bullied, or anything at all really. I love y'all. Thanks for being you.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I take pictures almost every day. Almost.

I'm all worded-out from writing ad-nauseum bout our New York trip. So for today, I thought I'd catch you up on my 366 pictures. Fascinating, I know, but looking at my 366 pictures makes me happy. And my happiness is clearly the most important thing here. Obviously.

 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Glamour and Sally Hansen Best of You Photoshoot

Today is Tuesday. And this is exactly why I refuse to make promises such as "I will post about our Glamour shoot on Monday." Mondays are our "family day" and one day where my REAL-LIFE to-do list trumps my virtual/on-line one. We spend the day cleaning, getting groceries, playing games, hiking etc. When the kiddos knock on the door on Mondays they usually begin by saying: "We KNOW it's your family day BUT . . . "

Tuesdays, however, are back to the same-old-same-old. And I'm not sure why my hair and makeup people aren't here yet, but I'm currently sitting in my bed in my pajamas with some seriously out-of-control bedhead because Adam took Jayci to school and brought Caden along so I could NOT hold him for three minutes at least.

Anyways, I left y'all here on Wednesday night after eating a delicious salted caramel cupcake. I'm pretty sure that's what most models eat before big photo shoots right? Thursday morning, we met the crew from Glamour downstairs (after packing up all our stuff and checking out etc) where we hopped in the car they had waiting for us to head to our photoshoot. We ended up in this super-cool building in a giant all-white room with wall-to-wall windows overlooking the skyline. Seriously y'all, I have no idea why I didn't take a picture. I was too overwhelmed and busy eating the yummy breakfast that was waiting for us. Soon after arriving, I met Gad, who was doing my hair. My fellow winner (Keela) described the makeover/getting ready time as being a lot like The Hunger Games and Gad as being like Cinna, and I couldn't agree more. Seriously, beauty base zero y'all.
Speaking of my fellow winners, we were all featured on Beauty Sweet Spot today and you can read about all my amazing co-winners and the work they're doing to make the world a better place. I love them. Also, all of their organizations are totally big-time and legit. They asked me what I did to get the word out about the contest and voting and I shrugged and told them I wrote about it on my blog, Right after I wrote about not-sleeping-EVER and before writing about my spray tan. See? We're totally legit too. Plus, Blueprint 58's facebook page has like 100 "likes" compared to their thousands. Legit.

While my hair was being done, my nails were being painted by a sweet lady. While we were chatting, she told me how she mentors young pregnant girls in NYC, and I couldn't help thinking about just how many woman are doing things to give back and inspire others. I wish every single one of you could be pampered and loved on and celebrated for everything you do!
So at this point, my nails are painted and my hair has been DID. And then the fabulous make-up artist from New Zealand got to work on my face. I'm not bashing myself here y'all, I'm just saying that he had some seriously dark under-eye circles to conceal, as a result of 9 months of sleep deprivation. Just saying.

Then I went to visit my stylist. Yup, I had a stylist. And she had bought beautiful designer clothes for me to choose from that she thought would be just perfect for me. I tried on a few before she convinced me that the purple one was "just gorgeous on me" and I put on a fluffy white robe and slipped my feet into fluffy white slippers to await the photo shoot. In the meantime, I chatted with Jeanine from Beauty Sweet Spot and made silly faces at Adam across the room. He was busy talking to Keela's fiance, an olympic medalist in luge and therefore basically Adam's hero.
I was the first person to go in front of the cameras (we each had an individual shoot before the group shots). Let me just say that Adam was, as a matter of fact, in some of the individual shots with me. Here are his Twitter updates from that morning: "So glamour took one look at me and said we want to do a photoshoot with u too. All my dreams have come true" and "Makeup artist just refused to touch me up for the shoot saying I looked perfect....at least thats what I heard." These might be slightly exaggerated, but he certainly did help me feel less ill-at-ease in front of the camera. Speaking of the cameras, Grace Huang was the one shooting us, and let me just say what a genius she is. I loved her, seriously.

So my stylist picked out some fabulous 4 inch heels to wear with my fancy-designer dress, and let me just tell you how impossible it was for me to walk stand in them. Every few shutter clicks, the hair and make-up artist would rush on to touch me up, and they would knock me off balance every time. Literally, I would grab their shoulders or Adam's arm to avoid falling on my behind in front of the very-large crew. That would have been EXTRA glamorous of me. But seriously, if you wonder how the models in magazines look so-darn-perfect, let me assure you that there's an entire team constantly "fluffing" them to perfection. This one sweet girl even rubbed lotion on my dry-as-all-get-out legs and covered up some zits on my neck. Bless her heart. Now if they can only get me to stop wrinkling my nose when I smile . . .

After my individual shoot, they interviewed me on camera (I slipped my fluffy white slippers on for that, because you couldn't see my feet, that's just how I roll). In my interview, they asked me what I thought about Sally Hansen and Glamour Magazine and what they were doing for us. Of course, I told them I was SO grateful (which I am), but I also told them this: Everyone from these two organizations has been telling me over and over again that they don't do enough and that I am inspiring and changing the world. The truth, however, is that by being faithful to honor woman who are doing important things, they too are making a difference. They are empowering and encouraging and changing the world just as surely as we are! In the meantime they shot Carrie, Keela, and Rachel's individual shots. I'm just saying, they all looked fabulous. For realz.
Then we had our group shots (one of which will be in the September issue of Glamour magazine). Every few seconds, our hair was fluffed by Gad and then he would man the fan which was blowing our hair (I'm not even kidding, this was real life yall). The make-up artist or his assistant would retouch our face, the stylist would retie my bow and adjust my dress, and Grace would remind me to stick out my hip, which I wasn't quite sure how to accomplish without falling on my face in my ginormous heels. Eventually, however, they realized I was basically a giant (I'm 5'11" without heels), and they put me in some lower ones. I've never been so relieved.
Let me also just tell you that I have never been SO out of my element before. It was exhausting. And at one point in the middle of all this, my introvert-self thought how lovely it would be to just curl up in my yoga pants and cuddle my babies and possibly play a round of Spoons with the kiddos.
Finally they released us from the shoot, announcing that Sally Hansen and Glamour had approved one of our shots for the magazine and we were done. At which point, I happily ate the steak they had grilled for us, along with lots of mozarella cheese and tomatoes. I do, after all, love a good caprese salad. 
Then we headed to our fancy "wrap party," next door where we were joined by many from the Sally Hansen and Glamour teams. It was such a treat to meet so many wonderful people who listened to our stories and encouraged us and made us laugh and were really just a joy to be around. Here is where they presented us with plaques and said embarrassingly sweet things about the work we are doing. Then we toasted, mingled, ate the delicious spread of cake and cheese and cake-pops and other goodies. Finally, we hugged our new friends goodbye and headed to the airport.
We flew home, where both our sweet babies were snug in their beds and we crawled gratefully into our own bed to the sound of gunshots down the street. And Caden waking up approximately 30 minutes after I fell asleep. I think he can smell me or something. Seriously. It was such a perfect juxtaposition and picture of our real lives, I couldn't help but laugh. But if I'm being honest? I wouldn't change my real-life, as un-glamorous as it might be, for anything!

Friday, April 20, 2012

New York, New York (and a winner)

I know y'all are just dying to hear all about my New York trip, as if I didn't twitter every last detail already. In case this is your first time here (welcome!) I just got back from a fabulous three day trip to New York, courtesy of Sally Hansen and Glamour Magazine's Best of You contest. And let me just tell you what a fantabulous trip it was. And the kiddos did GREAT with the grandparents. In fact, Caden slept through the night both nights and took over an hour naps in his pack and play every day. WTF? (why the face, obviously) How my in-laws managed that one I will never know, particularly since Caden didnt sleep a wink last night and hasnt napped more than 15-30 minutes in his crib today. Sigh. I fail.

I realize that the interesting/exciting part of the trip is the photo shoot for Glamour Magazine, but I want to remember the whole experience, and we all know that my memory isn't what it used to be, so I have to write it down somewhere. And since I cant seem to figure out how to get the words to sound pretty, I'm simply going to write about the first two days of our trip, and then I'll tell you guys all about the photo shoot in another post, probably on Monday (but y'all know how I dont like to make promises I may or may not keep, so you'll just have to wait and see!)

Day 1 -
We flew out to NYC on Tuesday morning, and were greeted upon our arrival by our very own driver who took us to our hotel (which just happened to be the Empire Hotel - you may have heard of it from a little show called Gossip Girl). After checking in, Adam and I tracked down some delicious NY pizza and then trekked all over New York exploring and enjoying the gorgeous weather. We walked around Times Square and The High Line (which we loved). We ended up eating dinner at The Red Rooster in Harlem (Obama has eaten there), which has literally the most delicious cornbread I have ever eaten. Also, the Mac and Greens and fried chicken. I'm drooling just thinking about it.  I opted to enjoy (obviously) eating large quantities of delicious food over worrying about the photoshoot and my waistline. However, Adam did force me to walk like 10 miles on Tuesday as we trekked all over the city. I'm not going to admit that I might have gotten a bad attitude about it at one point, but it's a strong possibility.
Really the most important piece of information you need to know is that we slept ALL NIGHT LONG TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW. Heaven, basically.

Day 2 -

The second morning, we hopped out of bed after hitting snooze too many times (leaving us running late as usual - I always try to pretend like I would totally have things together and be on time if I just didnt have my kids, apparently that is not true. I am going to, however, continuing maintaining it is true and just let it be our little secret, mkay?), and headed downstairs to meet the other winners and then have breakfast with some of the ladies from Glamour Magazine. I had the most giant piece of french toast I've ever seen. Literally, it took me a good ten minutes to just figure out a plan of attack for consuming it. After chatting about our organizations and pets and whatnot, we headed to the Townhouse Spa for some pampering and makeovers. We got pedicures (Sally Hansen sent over some of their newest colors for us to choose from) and I got my hair colored and styled, and my makeup done. It was so much fun and just such a relaxing treat to be so pampered. I loved it.



 
After our time at the spa, we went back to the hotel for a minute and then went out for a FANCY dinner with the other winners at a place called Rouge et Blanc, which serves Viatnamese-French food. It was SUPER yummy, even if I had some issues getting past the fact that I could just eat the entire head (including the eyeballs) of my fried shrimp. I just felt like the poor little guy was staring at me in terror, which caused me to majorly psysch myself out about eating it. You'll be glad to know, however, that I was eventually able to overcome my reluctance and fully enjoy the deliciousness of my meal.
 
After dinner, we headed a few blocks over to meet my sweet cousin Miriam for some cupcakes. I had a salted caramel chocolate one. Because, you know, I had a photoshoot for a national magazine in the morning and I feel as though that's a good reason to celebrate with cupcakes, particularly salted caramel ones.   

Then it was back to the hotel and into bed for our big day in front of the cameras the next morning. I was excited and nervous, but not too nervous to enjoy another full night of sleep. Yes ma'am, I slept like a baby. Or rather, I slept like a mama who DIDNT have a baby to take care of all night, amen.

Stay tuned for the rest of our trip and the photoshoot with Glamour!

Oh and I don't know if I mentioned this already, but y'all are some smart mommas! All the sweet comments on the giveaway post were so wise and encouraging - you should seriously go read them all and learn some valuable lessons about motherhood, for realz. Anyways, I used random integer generator to pick a winner and it came up with #29, so Jasmine is the winner! Congrats girl :-) If you can just email me your address at Becca1612 at hotmail dot com, that would be fabulous. If you didn't win but still want to get your hands on Spirit-led Parenting (and hello? you totally should), you can buy it on Amazon right here.

Monday, April 16, 2012

I just dont see how they can make me any MORE glamorous

Tomorrow we leave for New York. Admittedly, I should probably be packing for myself or the children, or perhaps crossing off at least one of two of the million things I need to do before we leave for the airport in the morning. However, I have been dying to tell y'all about all the glamor in my life. In fact, I probably don't even need a makeover before the photo shoot this week (please note sarcasm here).

Earlier this week, I sat on the front porch holding Caden (the usual), watching Jayci play with some of the neighborhood kiddos. Blowing bubbles, twirling, dancing, laughing in green grass, the glorious sunshine warming their shoulders. My phone trilled, and it was Glamour Magazine (no big deal). They were trying to figure out some details regarding our NY trip, and getting us the money for our ministry. Caden craned and grabbed for the phone, desperate to put it in his mouth, and I reminded Jayci continually to SHARE her bubbles throughout our conversation. A group of teenage boys (probably young high school I'd guess) sauntered by, I waved while chatting distractedly on the phone, although I didn't recognize any of them. Before I knew it, the boys were play-fighting, one of  them pinned up against our fence while two other boys pretended to hit him and call him inappropriate names. I politely asked Glamour Magazine to hold on a minute and then asked them to stop because my 3 year old cant really tell the difference between play-fighting and actual-fighting. They laughed and walked away, although they quickly returned, pinning the boy against our fence again while ACTUALLY hitting him this time. The kids gaped, Jayci cried quietly, and Caden tried to eat the phone. I may or may not have hung up on Glamour Magazine while yelling at them to stop, contemplating whether or not I should try to break up the fight, and what to do with Caden . . . Thankfully, our neighbors came to my rescue and broke up the boys while I comforted Jayci and then called Glamour Magazine back and apologized for hanging up on them. During my apology, Jayci fell down two stairs and began screaming loudly, leading me to stammer a hasty apology to Glamour Magazine before hanging up on them again. I'm pretty this scenario probably happens to Angelina Jolie when she's interviewed by Glamour Magazine as well.

Unfortunately, I forgot about this incident for a minute and got caught up in the vanity of the whole thing and decided for a second that it would be a good idea to get a spray tan before I went. Let's just say I don't look awesome. I left the tanning place with instructions not to sweat, the pressure of said instructions causing me to immediately break out in a sweat. So now I look like Ross, except with some splotches where my color is gone because I got too sweaty. Sigh.
This morning when I stared in the mirror while I was brushing my teeth, I felt myself spiraling thinking about my orange, splotchy skin and the extra 10 pounds I'm still carrying around since Caden's birth. And then I remembered: The way I look is NOT why y'all voted for me. In fact, I'm still not even sure why you guys voted for me, but I'm hoping it's because I do my best to be faithful to follow Jesus. And hopefully because in some small way my obedience, however reluctant or faltering, might inspire you to take big steps of faith too. Because I'm "just a mom," and I spend most of my day changing diapers, worrying about my kids, dealing with tantrums, and carrying a fussy baby who refuses to sleep in his crib. Because the things we do that seem "inspiring" are really just ordinary steps, small choices to say "yes" to Jesus' leading in our lives. And that means that every single one of us is capable of extraordinary acts of courage and bravery, simply because as Mother Teresa points out: "We can do no great things, only small things with great love."So today while I mother my kids and strive to be a good neighbor and friend, I will concentrate on my inner beauty rather than my external appearance. Because "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised" (Prov 31:30). And tomorrow, when I go to New York without children, I will do my best to remember that my heart for Jesus is far more attractive than any perfect tan will ever be, because it is a beauty that lasts forever and that rescues those who are perishing. I am praying that my life will always be a fragrant offering, whether I'm sitting here building blocks with Jayci, giving Caden a bottle, breaking up fights on our street, offering hugs and pancakes before church to the neighborhood kiddos, or getting pampered in New York.

Thanks again to all of YOU for inspiring me to keep following Jesus, for continuing to be brave and obedient, and for giving us the chance to get away and go to New York. I will try and document every single detail for y'all. If you dont already, you might want to follow me on Twitter  for better updates and behind the scenes looks at my glamorous life.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Spirit-Led Parenting: Review and Giveaway

 It seems like just yesterday I sat on the same couch I'm sitting on right now, and desperately googled and read every parenting book I could get my hands on, trying to figure out the secret to getting Jayci to sleep. I was convinced everyone else knew the answer, and determined to find them for myself. My google-searching providentially landed me at SortaCrunchy (the blog of Megan Tietz). If I'm honest, I had zero idea what "crunchy" meant, aside from possibly talking about some good potato chips or something, but that didn't stop me from leaving a comment on one of her posts on infant sleep. Megan must have sensed the desperation and exhaustion lacing my words, and she quickly emailed me a response. Her words spoke freedom and grace, laced with a gentle directing towards the Lord. I devoured her advice, relieved to hear I wasn't alone, that I didn't HAVE to do things "by the book." And I've been reading Megan's blog and learning from her grace-filled wisdom ever since.

When I found out Megan (along with Laura Oyer of In the Backyard) was writing a book, I cheered inwardly at the thought of how many woman need to hear the life-giving truths that Megan shares. That you will sleep one day. That all moms question themselves and that there is simply no special sleep formula which works for every baby. That there's definitely no secret mom-club of moms who know all the right answers.

I was possibly over-eager perfectly delighted when Megan asked me to be a part of the blog tour for her new book, Spirit-led Parenting. I received the book in the mail last week and devoured it quickly. It's interesting to read their words sitting where I am today. Because I am definitely wiser than I was. And I even know what "crunchy" means now (well I think I do, mostly). But I'm still sitting on this same green couch with a baby in the other room who simply will-not-sleep. So as much as I'd like to say I'm reading this book from a wiser-and-more-experienced-momma place, I'm still very much IN THE TRENCHES of mothering young children. And I still very much needed to hear the message of grace and freedom that Megan and Laura offer in their book.

Because the truth is that fear can be a constant companion for me, especially as a mother. And not just fear of the big stuff, like Caden's heart or Jayci's safety or the kiddos in the neighborhood carrying guns. No, it's the "little" fears that tend to be more pervasive. Comparing myself with other people, particularly other moms, and feeling fear fill me that I just can't add up. Worry that I am not doing this whole "motherhood" thing right, and possibly that I am screwing my children up forever. Fear of what others will think of the way I'm parenting. Fears that Caden will literally NEVER let me sleep through the night. Fears that I am just not enough.

And unfortunately, as a Christ-follower, my fear in parenting seems heightened and not diminished by the Christian community. On top the certainty that I'm not doing things the "right" way, I can quickly feel crushed by the weight of expectations from those who claim to have God's inside scoop for raising children properly. I find myself wandering down the path of self-loathing, convinced of my inadequacy. I'm too unorganized and not nearly disciplined enough to stick to a schedule, and not nearly loving or "crunchy" enough to co-sleep and babywear. Voices on both sides speak loudly and vehemently, and like a dangerous game of Red-Rover, I find myself running back and forth until I can barely breath and my legs are almost as exhausted as my heart.

But Spirit-led Parenting speaks differently. Somehow, amid the cacophony, Laura and Megan have managed to listen to, and share, the still small voice. The gentle whisper that speaks in the wind rather than the storm.

Somehow, mothering by the leading of the Holy Spirit was a revelation for me. Even now, after sitting in total surrender at Caden's bedside, recognizing 100% completely that we are not in control and that our son belongs to the Lord. Somehow, despite all of that, I still shut out His voice in favor of other louder and more insistent voices once things seem "normal." When I'm worrying about Caden sleeping through the night rather than Caden LIVING through the night, I forget to ask for God's hand and guidance. But the truth is that He is just as interested in my obedience NOW as He was then. And this fear-free-complete-surrender parenting? Is exactly what Laura and Megan explore and point towards in Spirit-Led Parenting.

Practical wisdom about sex, marriage, sleeping, catching up on your DVR, and keeping your sanity even in the midst of severe sleep deprivation are woven seamlessly with God's Word and truths about how motherhood can (and should) draw us ever-closer to the heart of a Father-God. Somehow we have lost sight of the fact that God has created each and every one of us uniquely. And likewise He leads each and every one of us differently to raise and nurture our uniquely-crafted babies. Their creator knows them intimately and He doesn't make mistakes, and seeking wisdom at His feet means that each mother will walk a unique path.

Spirit-Led Parenting may, in fact, be the only book I will ever recommend to new moms again. Because what all of us moms need is simply to be pointed in the direction of Jesus. To rely ONLY on Him for our strength. To listen to His voice quietly telling us "this is the way, walk in it." And then to actually walk where He directs. To put one oh-so-tired foot in front of the other and walk towards Christ, serving our children with a sacrificial and grace-filled love that will point them straight to our Savior.

I am grateful to Laura and Megan for sharing this message of grace, and even more grateful to them for allowing me to learn from their wisdom and share in their journey. I'm also grateful because I have a copy to give away to one of y'all! You guys are the absolutely best, most beautiful readers and friends ever. And I want each and every one of you to have the chance to learn freedom from fear as parents RIGHT NOW. So leave a comment telling me something you've learned as a mother (or hope to learn), and next week when I get back from New York I'll pick a winner.

Join in on the rest of the blog tour too if you have a chance:

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