Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Why I Became a Stay at Home Mom

The ache seemed to come from out of the blue. I had never considered being a stay at home mom, yet the idea ballooned from a fleeting fancy into a longing that gripped my thoughts with near painful intensity.

I was on a fast-track career path, climbing a corporate ladder, making great money, and earning the respect and recognition of both peers and superiors. Others told me (and I believed) that I was destined for great things, so as I considered my future, an active professional life seemed obvious. 

But the Lord was moving in my heart. He began to open my eyes - gradually at first and then with soaring urgency - to see how much I was missing when I left home for the office. Each day when I kissed my kids goodbye, I was more disheartened. As I drove away from them, I opened the door for someone else to mold their lives, shape their ideals, their confidence, and their dreams. 

I tried to dismiss my conflicted thoughts. Our family needed two incomes and I couldn’t just leave a full-time work environment… could I? I enjoyed my professional life. I found it fulfilling and it was certainly lucrative. But the longing to take a more active role as mom continued to swell. I adored every moment with my kids and it hurt my heart to leave them day after day.

Nothing is Impossible with God

Before long, instead of believing that leaving the work place was an impossibility, I began to wonder, “What if…” And the more I considered it, the more discontented I became at the office. I started to see a more negative side of professional life, fueled by the ache I felt when dropping my young children with their care giver. 

Have you ever noticed that when the Lord wants to make a point, He’ll sometimes surround us with a similar, repeated message? As I wrestled with the idea of leaving the workplace, I began to hear parenting sermons at church. Soon, my friends were talking about cutting expenses to prepare for decreased income. Then a pastor on the radio delivered a word about trusting the Lord rather than our paychecks, and the D.J.’s were discussing it too. When picking up a Bible study I found myself confronted with the reality that if God was prompting this transition, He would certainly provide for our needs.   

What we Expected

As I prayed, and studied, and discussed this potential life change with Mike, we agreed that, aside from the loss of income and notable hole it would create in my resume, there were scarcely few disadvantages. The blessings, however, were easy to list:
    • I’d have much more time with the kids and experience the joy of pouring into their lives. We’d develop closer ties to one another.
    • I could teach and influence my kids for Christ.
    • Our family could enjoy a healthier lifestyle with earlier mealtimes with less eating on the run (aka less fast food!) 
    • Our family time would become richer. We had become slaves to the clock. Arriving home from work meant cramming a whole day’s worth of family time into a few short hours that included dinner, play, baths, and hurrying the kiddos off to bed.
    • We’d save money on gas, lunch expenses, and childcare. Those were big ticket items in our budget.

Still, I felt a healthy level of fear over stepping away from my job. Mike and I spent countless hours in prayer over the matter. We found that the Lord calmed our hearts and provided peace. He went ahead of us to prepare hearts of bosses, co-workers, and family who we expected to balk at the idea. God made it obvious when the time was right to make a move, and suddenly it felt easy to say goodbye to dual full-time incomes and embrace our trust in Him. 

What We Actually Found

Over my next two blog posts, I’ll share the emotions and challenges we faced and more practical points about how our family managed my transition to professional parent.  This post focuses on why we made the decision and the bountiful blessings that followed. As we journeyed through the switch, we discovered benefits we couldn’t have imagined without seeing them firsthand. This is what we found:

    • My time at home improved our marriage. The rhythms of our family life now afforded relaxed, quality-filled conversations that were not rushed or filled with distractions from the office. Mike and I developed deeper bonds than we’d experienced in our marriage so far, and truly felt the teamwork of home and family life. 
    • Completing housework, grocery shopping, and other “chores” during the week freed up our weekends for fun and relaxation. 
    • The kids developed deeper relationships with Mike. When he arrived home from work, the three of them shared undivided time together. We realized that when I was working, the kids poured out a lot of energy trying to share their hearts with each of us. Now that I was home, evenings were calmer and more relaxed. The kids could bask in daddy time. 
    • We purchased fewer “toys” (for both children and adults) that our dual income had allowed and realized freedom from materialism. Life seemed simpler and more rewarding when we enjoyed what we already owned. We didn’t really need that new car stereo or those new shoes and the kids didn’t need the video games that we’d once buy so readily. We stopped the mindset that more was best and were blessed by the freedom that came. 
    • I found I became more available to the Lord.  My prayer life multiplied. We began to see Him move in our lives and we gave Him glory for what we once believed we’d accomplished on our own. I took part in Bible studies and began to grow in my relationship with God. 
    • We felt we could say “yes” to participation in church small groups since our evenings felt so much freer. 
    • Our church attendance increased. It no longer seemed as if Sundays were our only day to sleep in, rest, or catch up on errands or neglected projects around the house. 
    • Mike and I both believed that we drew closer to the Lord and could more easily discern His promptings and directions. 

In short, nearly everything in our lives swayed with a calmer, more rhythmic beat. Our schedules and our relationships began to move to the cadence of a common drummer. We could more easily walk in step with God’s prompting and direction for our family. 

Where to Go From Here

The purpose of this post and my encouragement for you today is to listen to the Lord’s prompting if He is stirring the desire become a stay at home mom. It’s so easy to dismiss the thought as an impossibility, but I want you to hear and understand that if the Lord is directing you, He will provide for your every need. So instead of ignoring the longing of your heart, listen to it. Seek the Lord’s will in it with all your heart. Ask that He prepare the hearts of those who will have involvement in the decision - particularly your husband - and then sit down and have the conversation.  

"You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:12 (HCSB)

Whether or not you move forward with this life-changing transition, you’ll know that, at the very least, you sought the Lord’s will and were open and available to follow His lead. 

I don’t believe that the Lord calls every mom to stay at home with her children, but I believe the possibilities and blessings are worth considering. The bottom line is this: When we walk in obedience to the Lord, He brings His best to our lives. It doesn’t mean that we’ll live free from trials or difficulties, but we’ll experience the blessings for lives fully surrendered to Him. 

I, for one, want always to listen for His direction and live my life in ways that are worthy of my calling. May that be the cry of your heart as well.

"You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:12 (HCSB)

Your Turn:

Do you feel the Lord developing a longing in your heart to become more intentional and purposeful as a parent?

Do you feel that might include stepping away from full-time employment?

How can I prayerfully support you in your journey to discover His will in this matter?

Be Strengthened Today, by His Word
Psalm 119:28


I’d love to respond to your comments, below. Or you can continue the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

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Friday, July 8, 2016

Today Matters: My Heartfelt Cry to Fellow Families of Law Enforcement Officers

Writing through tears makes it difficult to edit and proofread. You’re sure to see more typos and errors than normal in this post, but I felt that timeliness was more important than perfection today. If you’re not a wife, but a husband or other family member of a law enforcement officer, this is for you, too. May it encourage your hearts. 

Law enforcement wives, 

I can’t believe it either. Police in Dallas were sniped. They were sniped. Murdered in cold blood with no way to defend themselves as they protected others. They were targeted and taken out with malicious and evil intent. 

My heart breaks. The tears flow freely and, like you, I ask, “Why?”  Why has our nation come to this point? Why are there colors associated with love and hate? Why, why, why?

We, too, are called

Some of you didn’t marry cops. You married teachers, and real estate agents and construction workers who felt a call to serve others. So they risked a lot. They gave up careers, established income and reasonable work schedules to serve. And they took your family along for the adventurous and extremely difficult ride of a law enforcement career. 

Maybe you weren’t fully on board. Or maybe you fully supported his decision but didn’t completely realize what you were in for. Either way, you’re in it now and darlin', there’s no going back. 

When your husband accepted the call to serve, so did you. And today of all days, we - as law enforcement wives - need to stand firmly in that role and hold our heads high. We mustn’t cower in fear today, even when we want to bury our heads under the covers and cry ourselves to sleep. Today, when one of the hardest things we’ve ever done is to get up and live, that’s exactly what we must do.

We have work to do

It would be easy to be consumed with fear today and allow ourselves to cave into the paralysis we feel. It would be easy to allow hatred to overwhelm us. And to allow our disbelief and anger to drown out our love.

But we can’t. Because we’re called too. And we have work to do. 

Today, our job is to encourage our cops. To let them know that while it seems the rest of the world hates them, WE will stand with them. WE will pray for them and WE will take courage too. 

We will not spew more hate on social media. We will fight hatred with love. We will pray for those who hate us and for those who hate our husbands. 

We will continue to support our law enforcement officers as they serve our communities and we’ll do our part to shine for our communities too. We will not cower. We will band together to stand firm. 

As those who live this life every day and see the ins and outs of police work from a unique perspective, we know that not all cops have rotten hearts. In fact, very few do. Most cops accepted the call to help others. To be public servants. Some - a very small contingent - have seen the ugliness in people for so long their hearts have become hardened. A FEW of our officers have struggled to cope with the stress, violence and hatred they witness every day. They need help. They need our prayers. May they receive both.

When we crave justice

Years ago, I received an encouraging word from a detective who faced a court case he wasn’t certain would bring justice. He assured me with his knowledge of God as the higher judge. He reminded me that the Lord sees all. God alone can judge right from wrong because He alone sees the whole story. God alone can see every detail of every side and angle of every story. 

So today when you can barely stand because of the grief you feel in your hearts, lean on the God of the universe and trust that in His glorious and perfect timing, all truth will come to light. 

Our world is declining. We have leaders in the highest positions who are spurring on hatred and violence and the most troubling thing of all is that we don’t see any measure of relief coming. But, police wife, keep your mind focused on God and the things above. Trust and know that He will not allow justice to go unserved. 

We don’t have to retaliate. We can walk in love - because that’s why our husbands took their oath of service. To protect. To serve. To uphold the Constitution. Even when the people they serve hate them. Our husbands continue to serve and protect even when they, themselves are being protested. They put on the uniform and stand to protect those who demonstrate their disapproval. And we love our officers for it. Our hearts rejoice in their conviction and morality in this still-noble profession, even when we’re terrified.

Today Matters

Our actions today matter greatly. So what can we do, today, to navigate this pain and support those we love?

  1. Pray - if you can do nothing else today, pray without ceasing. When words won’t come, pray through your tears and pour out your broken heart to the Lord. Pray for the families who lost someone dear. They need our prayers. Let’s be generous with them. Pray for protection over our officers and for peace in our nation.  Humble yourselves. Pray and seek God’s face. He promises to hear from heaven and heal our broken land. 
  2. Forgive - I know this is easier said than done. Today, decide to forgive and trust that the feelings and heart change will eventually follow. Each time anger and hatred rise up in you, remind yourself that you’ve decided to forgive and ask God to remove the feelings and emotions that display otherwise.
  3. Support - your man needs you today. Be there for him. It will take all you have, but be strong and courageous. Do it for him. Do it for your families. Please don’t say, today, that you can’t take it any more. It’s okay to feel that way, but for today, try to hold those words back. Today your husband needs to know that you’re still with him and that together and with God’s help, you can navigate through it. Your support will bolster his courage on the street. Yes it will.
  4. Encourage - reach out to other police wives today and encourage one another. Use only uplifting and wholesome words and don’t allow negativity to breed among you. Commit to one another to show love and to keep serving others. There is strength in unity and we need each other to help resist the evil in our world. 
  5. Love - Draw on the love of Christ in those moments you feel you have no love of your own to show. He has enough for all of us and has plenty to share. He IS love, so use Him as your source of strength and your shield, and your refuge.

I’m praying for your strength and courage today. Will you pray for me too? When we've done all we can today, let's get up and do it all again tomorrow. 

Together and with God’s help, we can navigate this chapter of life and turn the page to find a hopeful future. Stand firm, my sister. In Jesus name.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Too Busy to Listen?

by Debbie Andrews

Looking out the window above the kitchen sink my mind wandered as I hurried to get the dishes done.  The day had been long and difficult.  

My son’s voice broke the silence with “Mom, look at what I made.”  

“Uh huh, that’s great” I mumbled.  

“Mom, you didn’t even turn your head to look at me.  How do you know it’s great?”

You see, even at his young age, he knew the importance of eye contact and focus while listening.  I heard his voice, responded in a non-committal way and yet I wasn’t truly listening to him.  My son taught me a valuable lesson over 25 years ago that has served me well over the years.

Obviously, distractions hinder our ability to genuinely listen.  Almost daily, I experience difficulty staying focused during my quiet time. My mind wanders while praying.  At times, I forget what I read as soon as I read it. God wants to talk to me and often times I say “Uh huh, that’s great.”

Three things have helped me stay focused when I’m reading God’s word, praying, or studying.

  1. Get rid of distractions - - When a thought enters my mind that is distracting, keeping me from what I am doing, I stop, jot down a note and get right back to it.  That’s my way of taking every thought captive.  (2 Corinthians 10:5)
  2. Plan to neglect - - Plan to meet with God at a scheduled time and place daily.  Neglect the duties of the day for time with God.  This allows me to spend quality time with the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit who will remind me of all that Jesus desires.  (John 14:26) Of course, outside of my scheduled time, I am in constant conversation with God while I go about my daily business.  When I plan to neglect, I get more done throughout the day.
  3. Know God’s voice  - - His voice is always consistent with His Word, it brings peace, it never pushes me to decide and it is a still, small voice that never condemns or harasses me.  Listen to His voice (John 10:27).  Conversely, the enemy’s voice is negative, harsh, critical, pushy and speaks in the 1st person  - “I’m fat”, “I look bad”, “I’m not smart”, “I can’t do this.”

I’m determined to listen for God’s voice and look to Him when He is speaking.  He wants me to partner with Him just as my son wanted me to share in his accomplishment.

Blog Contributor, Debbie Andrews and her husband, Charlie own and operate a quaint hotel in the small town of Wallace, Nebraska.  Their 4 children chose wonderful mates who have blessed them with 8 fun grandchildren.  Her heart is full of love for the Lord and the family He has given her.  Teaching, scrapbooking, canning and sewing are talents God has given to Debbie to share with others.