All posts in Christian Working Moms

Working Moms: Is Yes A Dirty Word?

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Every month in 2015, I am focusing on a different word.

The word for February 2015 is simple:  YES.

Wait a minute, what happened to NO?  After all, if you’re a working mom, the word no probably isn’t in your vocabulary. Most of us need to draw some serious boundaries.  Yes has become a dirty word.  A word that we dread.  A word that we regret saying once it leaves our lips.  A word that has become negative despite its positive meaning.

So why on earth am I writing about YES for an entire month?

It’s simple.  We need to start saying yes first.  We need to start saying yes to the things that are really important.  

Ok, maybe it’s a bit more complicated than it sounds.  I’ll admit, I really don’t have this whole yes/no thing figured out.  But I do know that I’ve probably had it backwards.  And I don’t think I’m alone.

Most weeks, I let my schedule fill up with lots of “stuff.”  Most of this stuff is good — ranging from work, school, activities, exercise – but at the end of the week I find myself asking, What did I really accomplish?

I’m not suggesting that my daily routine isn’t productive or worthy of my time.  I am suggesting it’s not always intentional.

And this year – when my schedule like yours frequently blazes out of control – I want to be intentional.  So, how does this translate into saying yes?

Stick with me in the weeks to come.

This week, I want to focus on our foundation:  God is a God of YES.

For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.  (2 Corinthians 1:20) (NLT)

This is an amazing promise indeed.  Every time we pray – every time we say “amen” — we are saying YES to God.

If we start with this foundation, yes becomes the good word it was intended to be.

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Have you allowed yes to become a dreaded word – even a dirty word – in your vocabulary?  

 

 

I Want More Mom!

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The lemonade stand did not start well.  Abby started it with a friend, but then her sister joined.  And another friend.  Pretty soon, four girls were arguing over how to make the lemonade, how to approach the customers, and how to split the money!

“It was my idea.  I did all the work!  And I shouldn’t have to share the money with anyone!” Abby cried.

Yes, money talks.  Why does it always have to be about the money?

I know I should be doing more to cultivate a spirit of gratitude and service, but right now, I have too many excuses. I simply don’t have the time. It’s too dangerous to take my kids to that side of town. My own family has enough needs right now. I would just be a Band-Aid to problems that are bigger than I can tackle. It’s not like I can make a real commitment. I don’t want to be one of those people who says she is going to effect change and then do nothing. Isn’t it better not to get involved at all? Maybe when I retire and the kids move out, then I can really focus on helping all those needy families. I’m feeling pretty needy myself these days.

In today’s culture, it’s hard to teach our kids that our lives are about more than our material possessions. After all, having more stuff is cool, isn’t it?  So we read the story of the rich fool who had such a good crop that he tore down his barns, built bigger barns, and thought he was set for life. The only problem? God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”

Back to the lemonade stand.  I probably should have intervened when I saw them fighting over the money, but like too many working mothers, I’m pretty overwhelmed, so I don’t get involved.  I don’t lecture the kids about the rich young ruler.  It’s Memorial Day Weekend and I just want a moment of peace.  I am too busy reading a new book on my Kindle.

But just when I feel like a complete failure as a mother, my children surprise me.

“We are giving all the proceeds to charity,” Abby announces.  She asks me how to spell “mission.”   Then she puts all the money in an envelope, seals it, and labels it “Mission Fund”.

This materialism thing is hard.  Sometimes I think it’s harder for the adults than it is for the kids.   In my case, my kids have given me a good nudge.   I welcome the nudge.

Dear God, I want to pay it forward.  Please help me to store up treasures in heaven.

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Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.   (Matthew 6:19–21)

Working Mom’s Devotional: Will We Choose Guilt or Grace?

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I’ve been a pretty absent friend this year.  In between a demanding work schedule, aging parents, and my own over-stretched family, I’ve barely had time to write let alone invest in friendship.  Let’s face it.  Quality relationships take time.  Maybe too much time during this busy stage of life.

But I know deep down that relationships are worth the effort – especially during this busy season of life.  And the holidays are the perfect time to reconnect .  Even if I haven’t been a model friend in 2013.  Which is why I invited four dear friends to lunch the week before Christmas — to let them know just how much they’ve meant to me this year.

We were supposed to meet for lunch at noon (I sent out the invitation, remember?).  I was looking forward to putting aside the holiday rush, turning off my cell phone, and eating a slow but satisfying lunch in the best of company.

But I had one of those crazy Monday mornings.  From the moment I woke up, I was “behind” and  couldn’t catch up.  My first 30-minute meeting turned into two hours.  I looked at the clock. 12:45.

No!

My heart sank.  I had missed the special “friendship” lunch – the lunch that I was supposed to be hosting!

Why should I be surprised?  This is indicative of my year.  I make plans, but they always seem to change.  I tell myself, “I can do it, I will hold it together!”  But then I find myself back pedaling and feeling out of control.  Wishing I was someone who doesn’t invite her very best friends to lunch and then stand them up!

But these are also the moments when I have a decision to make.  Will I choose guilt or grace?  Will I beat myself up and throw in the towel?  Or will I jump in the car, put the pedal to the medal, and receive a heavy dose of grace (albeit an hour late)?

Thankfully, I arrived just in time to wish my friends a Merry Christmas.

If I could replay last Monday morning, I would have done a few things differently.  But what’s done is done.  My failed Christmas lunch teaches me a lesson I need to learn over and over again.

Grace always gives me a second chance. 

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

God is so good that he reaches down and gives me a second chance.  He knows in advance that I’m going to be an hour late for that Christmas lunch.   But he doesn’t condemn me.  Instead, he gives me a choice.  Will I wallow in regret?  Or will I seize a new moment?

2013 is almost over.  I can’t change last year, no more than I can change last Monday morning.  But I can choose grace over guilt.  And rather than replaying in my mind what could have been, I can move forward in confidence that God gives me new mercies every morning.  He is never caught by surprise.  Even when I don’t show up to lunch.

Are you ready for a fresh start in 2014?  

Working Mom’s Devotional: Thank God For Coffee!

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It has been one of those weeks months.  As I reflect, I think about the “must haves” to get me through the days.

For me, my two “must haves” are coffee and prayer.

I’ll talk about prayer another day.  Today, I need to keep things light.  Today, I need to thank God for coffee.

Just to put things in perspective, yesterday I made three trips to the caffeine well (morning coffee at home, plus two trips to the coffee shop at work).  I know it sounds excessive.  I’m not saying it’s right or even making excuses.  It’s no secret that I love my coffee.  Not just any coffee.  I like the good stuff.  Some of you know that I gave up coffee for Lent a couple of years ago.  And it nearly killed me!

I can do without a shower and some basic hygiene every now and then, but please don’t ask me to give up coffee.

I know what you’re thinking.  This is supposed to be a working mom’s devotional.  Very true.

But sometimes, I just don’t feel very “spiritual.”  Sometimes, I can’t handle a sermon.  I just need to keep it simple.  Sometimes, I need to focus on thanking God for the little things that get me through each day.

How about you?

What are your “must haves” that get you through each day?  

Have you thanked God for the little things this week?

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“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Dear God, I thank you for creating coffee beans.  Please help me to lean on you to get me through each day. Thank you that I don’t have to choose between prayer and coffee.  And thank you for the weekend!

 

 

 

Jen’s Story: Being a Steward of Our Skills and Our Relationships

As we continue our Story Series, we’re meeting working moms all across America —  moms who are working hard, serving their families, and loving God.  Jennifer Davis is one of these moms.  Jen is a faithful reader (another online friend through Chasing Superwoman) who sends me notes of encouragement and blesses me with her simple yet powerful words.

Jen, please introduce yourself (and tell us the many hats you wear).

My name is Jen. I am a mathematician working as a software engineer for an aerospace and defense company. I am mother to two young daughters. I am married to a wonderful man who shares my passions for God, family, friends, and biking. I am the older of two children, and (maybe as a result) my greatest strengths tend to be seeking achievements and continually learning.

What key events have marked your journey?

I will talk specifically about my journey as a working mother. In high school, through my own elementary reading of the bible, I came to believe that God wanted all women to be stay-at-home moms (SAHMs); so that became my plan. I didn’t date anyone in college, so upon graduation I went off to graduate school to pursue my passion for mathematics. Through observing and talking to a female professor with young daughters, I became comfortable with the idea of being a working mom and having my future children attend day care. I realized God had gifted me with some special skills, and I wanted to be a good steward of those skills and use them in the marketplace. I met my husband (whose skills are on the creative side where the jobs don’t pay so well) in graduate school, and he agreed with a plan for me to keep working after we had children. I completed my Ph.D. and landed a job as an engineer for an aerospace and defense company.

Four years later we had our first daughter. After eight weeks, I went back to work half days and loved it. It was great to see all my co-workers again and to use a different part of my brain. After a month of half days, I went back to full time and my heart broke. I missed my baby so much during the day. I wondered if God really did want all moms to be SAHMs and if my emotional turmoil was a sign of that.

I Googled “Christian mom working,” bracing for a list of articles condemning mothers of young children who worked outside the home. Instead I found encouragement. I found Kimberly Chastain’s Oasis for Christian Working Mothers and her article “What does the Bible say about Christian Working Moms?” I forged onward. My boss, who has been very supportive, told me I could go part-time if I wanted and choose the number of hours to work each week. I went to 35 hours per week (what we could afford) and arranged my schedule so that I could be home with my daughter on Wednesdays. This made the emotional difference for me to have more time with her during the week.

I continue to evaluate how I spend my time, but I am in a place of peace about work and family.

How do you integrate your faith, home, and work?

Work and home are pretty compartmentalized for me. I tend to leave work at the office. I try to live out my faith both at work and at home. At work this means caring for co-workers, avoiding gossip, and being a diligent and responsible employee. At home, this means teaching my older daughter about Jesus, telling her I love her every day, and living out a life of faith for her to observe. It means prioritizing my husband before my daughters (as difficult as that can be), doing date nights, and learning about God together.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

My dad once told me “Sometimes there are little inconveniences in life, and you just have to deal with them.” It stuck with me. So often I can become frustrated when things aren’t going my way or are not going as expected. When I remember these wise words, I take a step back, breathe, and try to think of the best path forward given the new (albeit unwelcome) circumstances.

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Jen, thank you so much for your example and your story!  You encourage us to use the resources and talents God has given us – and to be a steward of our skills and our relationships.  And thanks for sharing another great resource —  the Oasis for Christian Working Mothers.