All posts tagged Working Christian Mom

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.

Working Mom’s Devotional: Dealing With “Working Mom Guilt”

Working Mom's Devotional

In a moment of weakness, I volunteered to coordinate the second grade fall festival party.  The first time the sign-up sheet went around, I declined.  But then I thought about Abby.

“Mom, you never volunteer for anything!  You have never even been in my class!”

Of course this isn’t true.  I intentionally took pictures when I made my appearance in her classroom last year.  But she has already forgotten.  In her mind and in comparison to the many mothers who volunteer in the classroom on a weekly and even daily basis, her mother is conspicuously absent.

So I took on the party.  And I didn’t stop there.  I further volunteered to host the holiday caroling in our home in hopes that it would placate my guilt, at least until third grade.

When I got home, I announced to the family my newfound obligations.  Reactions were mixed.

  • My husband gave me a blank stare.  When I reminded him that I have a busy travel schedule this fall and I may need his help to pull off the parties, he just shook his head, “Do you really think you can take on one more thing?”
  • Nick (7th grade) was completely cynical, “What are you trying to do, all of a sudden be Superparent?”  
  • Anna (5th grade) offered to help with the caroling party.  But then she subtly reminded me that I have never hosted a caroling party for her class.

I can’t win.

But Abby beamed.  And I reminded myself why I volunteered in the first place.  After all, I am creating memories, right?

Or am I just putting my name on a sheet to relieve my guilt?

God, as I wrestle with my own motives, please assure me that my identity is secure in you.  If I’m honest, I constantly struggle with a mixture of  love, guilt, and duty.  As much as I say that I don’t care what other people think, I actually do.  Help me to care about what you think first.  Thank you for entrusting these children in my care, and please give them the love and security they need. 

Hebrews 4:16  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

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Are you struggling with Working Mom Guilt?

Do your children ever compare you with the “Room Mom”?

 

 

Monica’s Story: The Secret To Contentment

Today, we continue our story series with Monica Flores, a fellow writer, executive assistant, and working mom.  Monica is a constant encouragement to me in my writing journey as we have both lamented about the lack of faith-based resources for working moms.  I love her raw honesty and wit.   

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

I am first a Christ-follower, wife, mother, and executive assistant.  I love singing, reading, good food (the proof is evident on my hips!), good coffee, travel (though time and money limit this more than I’d like) and home decorating.  I have been called “crunchy” from time to time for my passion for natural birth and crusade for “real” food, but don’t worry, I still shave my legs (most of the time!).

What key events have marked your journey? / What is your greatest struggle?

I have spent too much of my life discontent because my life does not look like as I expected it to. I have struggled throughout my adult life to learn contentment and find joy in living the life I have.

I am a planner by nature, and this is a very useful skill in my career as an Executive Assistant and Project Officer and in my role as wife, mommy and even friend.  But I would by lying if I said that this has always served me well.  You see, beyond planning logistics, I have invested my heart in expectations of how my life would be.  I have made these plans an idol and sacrificed my own joy at their feet.

· I struggled with my career because life circumstances, choices, and God’s provision led me in a direction that did not include finishing college. (I plan to eventually, but as an honor student this was a tough pill to swallow. There’s more to this story, but I digress).

· I struggled with being single into my late 20’s because I’d always planned to marry younger.· I next struggled with my pregnancy because we planned to wait until we’d been married for two years to get pregnant, and instead I got pregnant two weeks after our honeymoon.

· I struggled with the birth of my son, because I had a natural, mid-wife attended, water birth planned, and my breech son was delivered via C-section. And let’s not even begin to describe my horrific battle with post-partum depression.

· I struggled with mothering my newborn because I planned for extended breastfeeding and due to latch issues, post-partum stress and depression and food allergies, I was only able to do so for 6 weeks.

· I struggled with being working mother because I had always planned to be a stay at home mom, and really wanted to homeschool.

Are you seeing the pattern here?  I have spent over a decade planning and struggling, planning and struggling.

Of course, each one of these diversions from my plans has led me to meet people, have experiences and learn lessons that I would not have otherwise. There has been so much joy and so much beauty along the way, but there has also been grief.  I have had to grieve the loss of my own plans.  

So where am I now?  Well as a family we now have two weeks of homeschooling under our belt.  But even that has come in an unexpected manner– you see, I’m still working full time, and it is my husband who is staying home and teaching our son.  I can honestly say that while getting here has been a long and sometimes arduous journey, I am so content and blessed at how God’s plans have proven so far superior to my own. 

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

I love this question because integrating these things is key to really living, and is definitely something that requires intentionality; but I do find that when all is at its best, integrating the three comes rather organically, for one reason– I am one person. I wear many hats, but I am not three different women. Though my walk, my family/home life, and my job may require different things of me, I find that when I am the most genuinely myself and seeking Christ first, integrating the three is seamless. 

Spending time reading the Bible, even just a bit at the start of my day helps keep me focused as the day unfolds. I am a big fan of the You Version app and it is often the very first thing I see each morning.  Even spending time in prayer and worship as I go throughout the more mindless bits of the daily routine is a help. A pastor of mine once showed us how little time it takes to quiet ones heart and pray– mere minutes really, and something that can truly be done anywhere, my sweetest days are those in which I have stolen moments throughout to focus on Jesus.  

As for practical tips on managing home and work, I talk about some of those on my blog.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

I have received lots of good advice, but the best has been oft repeated by my mentors in the faith, and comes directly from Matthew 6:33:

 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (ESV)

It doesn’t matter what “things” my heart is chasing after day by day (be it a deadline, or a goal or something my son is needing) seeking Jesus is always the “right” answer.  Seeking Him first always manages to take care of everything else.  It’s too simple, and often seems trite.  But it’s true.

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Thanks Monica for continuing our story series!   Please connect with Monica’s at her blog, A Little Verbose,  for more great tips and encouragement. 

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

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!

Working Mom’s Devotional: Clothing Ourselves With Christ

Working Mom's Devotional

Every morning, the kind of clothes I put on determine my day.  When my kids were toddlers, they would know if I was going to “work” in the morning depending on my attire.  When I put on my high heals and lipstick, they would know I was headed to the office.  When I put on my sweats and flips flops, they would understand that I was staying home.   

This week, I talked to several working moms who have had this same experience.  In fact, one mom remarked that her toddler gets upset when she puts on her “work” clothes in the morning.  In his mind, the kind of clothes she is wearing determines the rest of his day.  He is always excited on the weekend – when he sees that mom isn’t getting dressed for “work.”

Isn’t it amazing how our attire shapes our mindset?  The type of clothes we are wearing makes a significant psychological impact on us and our families.

Similarly, when I come home from work in the evening, I can’t seen to unwind until I change my clothes.  Sometimes, I am cooking dinner in a business suit, and it occurs to me – I need to change my clothes.  No wonder I’m not relaxed.

I’m convinced that we likewise need to clothe ourselves each day with the proper spiritual attire.  Only then can we have the mental stamina needed to get through each day.

In Romans 13, the Apostle Paul tells us to “clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.”  As I read Jesus Calling this week (May 27), I was struck by the challenge to “seek my face at the beginning of your day.”  Like putting on clothes in the morning, this practice enables us to “put Jesus on” and “wear him” throughout the day. 

Does your attire shape your attitude each day?  Does it impact those around you?

Similarly, do you remember to put on your “spiritual clothes” each morning?

Dear Jesus, help us to “clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ” every morning.  Too often, I get dressed in a hurry and forget about my spiritual clothes.  When we forget to “put you on” in the midst of our busy schedules, help us to stop and change.   We want to regularly clothe our minds, as naturally and deliberately as we clothe our bodies each day.