All posts in 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?  

 

 

Working Mom’s Devotional: Are You Present At Home?

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Some of my friends are picking one word this year.  A single word to sum up a goal or intention for 2015.  A simple way to stay engaged after New Year’s resolutions are long forgotten.

What’s the first word that comes to mind for 2015?

Here’s mine:  PRESENT

No, I’m not going to focus on this word for an entire year.  I’m way too impatient (and I have too many words I’m excited about) so I’ll focus on one word a month.  Want to join me?

This January, I’m asking myself if I’m really present – at home, at work, with others, and in my relationship with God.  Am I engaged in the moment, or am I constantly preoccupied with everything else?  More often than not, I can tell you what’s happening on my email, what’s going on on the other side of the world, or what’s on my calendar next week.  But can I tell you what the person sitting beside me is thinking or feeling?  Am I connected in real time?

This is something I’ve been thinking about for months.  So much that I haven’t been blogging.  I haven’t been writing.  And I’ve backed off considerably from social media.

But this is about more than unplugging.  Unplugging is a knee jerk reaction to something bigger.  Unplugging is about pushing the pause button so I can stop and think.  And listen.  Fortunately, I have plenty of people who are willing to give me advice.

Starting with my third grade daughter.

“Mom, yesterday is history.  Tomorrow is a mystery.  Today is a gift.  That’s why we call it the present.” (Author Unknown)

Pretty timely, huh?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had some serious down time.  I’ve had the luxury of connecting with my family in real time.  And I’ve learned an important aspect of living in the present.  Being present means putting other people before yourself.

Several times over Christmas break, I have spent time jumping on the trampoline in our back yard.  Not by choice.  It’s freezing outside.  I get dizzy jumping up and down.  And I twisted my neck and broke my fingernails playing this crazy game on the trampoline called “Ga-ga.”  It’s much easier to be selfish with my time.  Being present requires me to engage.  It requires me to consider the thoughts and give in to the preferences of others.  It even requires me to play Ga-ga.

But my daughters love it.  They light up whenever I jump, and they say things like, “Mom, this is so cool.  I can’t believe you are actually good at Ga-ga.”    You see, when I’m jumping on the trampoline, I have a singular focus.  I can’t multi-task, I can’t take a phone call or text, and I can’t even carry a conversation.  I just jump, laugh, and try not to get hit by the ball.

Do you make similar sacrifices to be actively present at home?  How can you best engage in real time with your family in 2015?

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Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)

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!

 

 

 

Working Mom’s Devotional: I Am Not The “Snack Mom”

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I was sitting at a soccer game last weekend when a mother on the opposing team lamented,

“I forgot snack.  I can do other things, but I’m not the Snack Mom. In fact, I hate snack duty!”

Been there.  I feel her pain. In fact, I even offered to share some of my pre-packaged Oreos and Nutter Butters. 

No, I’m not proud of my choice of snack.  But after a week of traveling and jet-lag recovery, I was just thankful that my husband (bless him) made a run to the grocery in my absence.  

Even though I wholly embrace healthy eating, I simply don’t have time to make my children healthy food like they deserve. When it comes to snacks, I’m a terrible packer. Most mothers who have nutritional control over their children carry around these coolers filled with fresh fruits, raw vegetables, and purified water. Not me. It’s downright embarrassing.

The other mothers look at me like, “Don’t you have your own cooler?” Actually, I don’t.  But it is on my “to do” list.  One of these days I will take nutritional control and make amends with the Snack Police.

The good news?

God still offers me (and my children) spiritual food.   He’s not even waiting for me to get my act together.  In John Chapter 6, Jesus tells us:

Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval….

Then Jesus declared, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Just think, I’m worried about the Snack Police, yet God places his “seal of approval” on food that will never spoil!  I just need to “come” and ask.  I don’t even need to bring my own cooler!

Have you struggled being the “Snack Mom”?  Are you in need of some spiritual nutrition? 

Ami’s Story of Faith, Loss, and Love

As we continue our “Monday Story Series” I’d like to introduce you to Ami Neiberger-Miller, a public relations consultant and writer who lives near Washington, DC.  Several years ago, Ami posted a review of  Chasing Superwoman on her blog, and we’ve been friends ever since.   

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

I am a mother, stepmom, and wife – as well as a hopeless idealist, advocate for nonprofits and associations, media maven, and writer. My life was chaotic long before my house had diapers in it and a sandbox in the backyard. I became a Christian at age 8 and have always felt that faith is demonstrated through actions, not just words. I joined my first nonprofit board at age19 (a Habitat for Humanity affiliate) and never stopped working as an advocate to make a difference.

What key events have marked your journey?

Like many women, the key events in my life have involved my relationships with others. Marrying my husband more than a decade ago, who had three kids from a prior marriage, was a key event that also forced me to grow and change. I found it much more challenging to be graceful when it was my own home and dealing with other people’s needs, than I did in a more public setting. Thank goodness for forgiveness. Adopting our daughter three years ago, after the older kids were all grown, was another key moment that was filled with joy.

What is your greatest struggle?

My brother, Christopher Neiberger, was killed in the Iraq war on August 6, 2007 by a roadside bomb, three days after his 22ndbirthday. The sixth anniversary of Chris’s death is tomorrow, and I’ll probably spend at least part of the day at section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery reflecting on my journey, honoring his life, and perhaps visiting with some of his Army buddies. I divide my life into “before” and “after” his death. On a spiritual side I have wrestled with how a loving God allows senseless and random evil. I have also struggled with how others in the church have at times responded to us as survivors of a traumatic loss. I would say that his death has helped me see many things differently.

My definition and understanding of what “sacrifice” means changed when Chris died. My ability to tolerate people stressing over small things like the metro being late, or yelling at their kids in a store, has also diminished and I am less patient at times with others, because I see them squandering the joy they could have. My definition of a bad day also changed – I know what a really bad day is, and most days are not that bad. I hope that I am now a more generous and understanding person but I am not sure I am there yet. I try to appreciate my family more, help others  coping with traumatic loss through my work in my practice and as a spokesperson for families of fallen troops, and to live my life like every day counts.

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

I am extremely fortunate that I am able to work from home 2-3 days per week so I am near our three-year-old and her activities quite a bit, even if  I am working,  Commuting is a major expense and time suck where we live, so re-capturing some of that time for other things keeps our lives more sane. And when I am commuting – I try to use the time to nap, catch up on email or do some writing. I could not do even half of what I do, without the help and support of my husband –who has spent the last year and a half as a stay-at-home dad. We have struggled to find a faith community in the last few years, but we are persistently searching. Finding a church where our daughter can spend part of the worship service with us, where all of us can be nurtured, and where all our family can feel accepted is important to us. I get a daily devotional via email, but I miss the structure of a more comprehensive and focused study with other women on a weekly basis.

We also find that eating meals at the table and saying grace together as a family are important. My schedule can have some unpredictability because I am subject to the whims of breaking news and the ever-cranking 24/7 media cycle. So it’s important to me that I plan ahead to meet my family’s needs, regardless of what happens to my schedule – that includes keeping certain things for meals and household needs stocked around the house. And sometimes I just have to pinch hit – it’s important for me to remember my faith when pressure hits. I once had to have a very important and time-sensitive conversation with a reporter while in a grocery store with my daughter, who was about 2 at the time. I took a cupcake off a shelf and let her eat it in the shopping cart while talking to him about adjusting a story before it mass-ran on the wire. She was covered head to toe in frosting and my client got a much-needed story adjustment that helped them assist more hurting people.

What is the best advice you have ever received? 

Remember what matters in life – people, not stuff. Do not allow the tyranny of the urgent to overshadow the moments you have with your family. Turn off your electronics at least some of the time, and especially do it when you have “family time.” Do not feel you have to be perfect or “get it right” all of the time. At some point we have all had messy homes, kids that don’t act perfectly, a Bible study we are too exhausted to read, and a desk that looks like a tidal wave of paper and email drowned it. Focus on what matters to you, and cut yourself slack on the smaller things. And don’t worry about what other people think – so long as your choices are right for you and your family – you will be ok.

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Thanks so much Amy for sharing your story!  We are blessed to have you as a friend and fellow working mom on this journey.  Amy also writes a blog on media relations for nonprofits and associations, as well as work-life balance, and you can follow her on Twitter @AmazingPRMaven.

Does Amy’s story strike a powerful or familiar cord?  If so, please let her know!