All posts tagged Working Christian Moms

Time To Unplug At Home?

friendship92

As I write this, I’m ignoring my children.

Ok, I’m not really ignoring them.  I’m actually sitting here with my 10-year-old, Anna, as she makes me a lovely bracelet.  I have about 20 of them already.  She asks me what three colors I want my newest bracelet to be, and in between typing and thinking about the next sentence I respond, “Green, blue, and purple.”

I may be sitting here with her, but my brain is somewhere far far away.

Whether it’s my laptop, iPhone, or another mobile device, I’m electronically connected to my work, family, and friends 24/7.  Whenever I get a text, I have that urge to respond right away.  I think you know what I am talking about.  Never mind that it isn’t urgent.  Never mind that it can wait until tomorrow.  We still feel the need to stop whatever we are doing and respond right now.

Most of us are comfortable (dare I say “addicted”) to a level of connectivity that our parents and grandparents could never fathom.  It’s not only our present reality, it’s our future.  Why fight it?

Yet I often wonder if we are missing out on something better.   Like looking into my daughter’s eyes when she is speaking to me.  Having a conversation while she makes my newest bracelet.  Maybe even learning to use that Rainbow Loom myself. (Ok, let’s not push it.  Even if I unplug, I’m not getting crafty.)

So I put the laptop aside.  Maybe just for tonight. I can think of nothing I’d rather do than be right here right now.  How long will a 10-year-old daughter be content making her mother bracelets on a Friday night?  How many women in the world would give up anything to have a moment just like this?

This is a window I don’t want to miss.  An evening I need to unplug.

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Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10

 

 

Working Mom’s Devotional: You Are Not Alone

Working Mom's Devotional

About twice a month, I get an email from a working mom I have never met.  It goes something like this:

“Thank you for encouraging Christian working moms.  Ever since I had children, I feel alone in my church.  I even feel like I’m less of a mother because of my career. I really believe that God is using me in my work, but sometimes it’s really hard to find mentors.  It’s just nice to see that I’m not alone.”

These messages warm my soul and pierce my heart.  I totally get it.  I too have felt like a spiritual orphan as a working mom, especially in the early years.  When my kids were in diapers, I was lucky to get to church on Sunday let alone connect with like-minded women of faith.  Heck, I even wrote a whole chapter about my struggles with the church in Chasing Superwoman.

But I’m here to tell you there is life after daycare and diapers.  That God is bringing together like-minded women who are striving for excellence (not perfection!) in our home, work, and faith.  We’ve featured many of these women in our Story Series. .

Yet the one constant in my life isn’t my work, my family, or even a growing “community” of working moms.  It’s the One who made me – the One who gives me the strength for what lies ahead.  The One who assures me I am never alone.

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God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5)

Thank you God for being the one constant in our lives. Thank you for this busy season of life – and for bringing so many wonderful women of faith together.  We know that the seasons of motherhood will change.  That our kids will grow quickly, and people may come and go with each new chapter.  But you always remain the same. Thank you that you never leave.

Alyson’s Story: Being A “Real” Woman of Grace

As we continue our Story Series, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Alyson Jones.  Alyson has both heart and style, which makes her an excellent lawyer and even better mother. I laughed out loud when she told me about the four pieces of literature that occupy her nightstand: 1) Newspaper/Huffington Post on-line; 2) Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns; 3) Lean In; and 4) Working Women of the Bible.  Her story resonates with us because she’s authentic — she’s not afraid to be a “real” woman and embrace grace. 

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

I am a working mother of two young boys, living in the deep south: Jackson, Mississippi.

What key events have marked your journey?

I do not have any major triumphs or catastrophes that define me. My initial influencing factor in my first 30 years has always been my father. He is a Cuban-American, who came to the United States when he was 11, and he epitomizes the word “work-ethic.” He is Catholic, and his demonstration of faith is completely introverted. I have never heard my father talk about God. He has attended mass every Sunday (or Saturday evening) ever since I can remember, and the general unspoken rule is that if you want to go with him, you are welcome to, but he will never ask you to attend. That rule goes for me, both of my brothers, and my mother. The next part of my spiritual journey, age 30 and continuing now, is one that my husband’s faith brought to me – Southern Presbyterianism. For this, you talk about God everywhere and invite everyone, all the time, to join with you!  I love having these two worlds combine because both are so very important to me – a deep, personal faith that can only be instilled by self-discipline, as well as a wide-open demonstration of showing grace and faith in God. 

What is your greatest struggle?

My greatest struggle is keeping balance, which I know is becoming somewhat of a cliché, but it is true. I want to be really good at everything I do, and I have to learn to let go of that expectation daily. Because, in fact, when I get the call that my child has the stomach bug and I have to leave work, the truth is, I am not my best at work. Alternatively, when I am preparing for three days for a client meeting without leaving the office before 9:00 p.m, plus traveling to attend the meeting, I am not really good at home. 

I struggle every day with analyzing whether I am making the right decision to work outside the home. I am a lawyer, so my personality lends itself to analyzing every side of the problem and finding a solution. I found my way to Mississippi after attending undergraduate at Ole Miss, then law school at Tennessee. I fell in love with an incredible man who moved back to Mississippi to farm, and I started my law career here. It is the deep south. Mississippi is not a friendly environment for a working mom; it is just not. 

For example, a couple months ago, our own Governor decided to speak out at a public forum about how working women are at the root of the educational gap in our Country.  He went on to explain his statement by saying that he simply meant that the stress of dual- parent working families effects children.  At the heart of what he said, and none of us can deny it, is that work adds stress.  With my over-analytical mind, I have been analyzing my life in context of his statements ever since.

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

I try to stay involved with my church. I thrive on structure, and the church provides that for my faith. I would like to think that I could set aside a certain amount of time each day to focus on the Bible, because that is desperately what I need, but that is unrealistic for me right now. Instead, by staying involved in church, I am able to surround myself with people who feed me Bible verses, ask me to Bible studies that I may be able to squeeze in once a quarter, and force me to get involved with children’s activities so that I actually know what my children are learning. By integrating people with strong faith into my life, I believe I am able to have a more grace-centered demeanor at both work and home. (My children and co-workers may disagree with this statement!)  In order for me to deal with my struggles, it is imperative that I understand and can lean on the fact that God does not want me to be perfect and loves me despite my inability to be “good” at all that I do. 

Fitting faith into work and life is not easy, but it is essential. We will rarely find a purpose in our daily grind, and it is almost a guarantee that we will spend time searching for something that may be missing or will make our life circumstances better. Working Women of the Bible and the Bible itself help paint a picture of how to get through our lives. The Bible does not over-analyze or criticize, but instead, it features real-life struggles, much like our own, that have been around since creation and still hold true today. Some of these struggles do not have solutions, but they are real, have withstood the test of time, and provide a fountain of wisdom for modern-day working women. 

I am still on my journey of coming to Christ. It takes a lot of relinquishment of self-control.  I have not this mastered this journey, but I have come a long way. 

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Trust your gut. Of course, that has to be done with a proper analysis of consequence, but if something deep down is stirring you up – whether in decisions at home or at work –  trust that feeling from deep within.

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Thanks Alyson for sharing your story!  Does Alyson’s story strike a powerful or familiar chord?  If so, please let her know.

Dee Ann’s Story: The Power of Forgiveness

Today, we continue our Story Series with Dee Ann Bennett, a working mom and sales professional who has much to teach us about perspective and forgiveness.  Dee Ann and I connected several years ago after she read Chasing Superwoman, and I’m so blessed to share her story. It gives me chills.

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

I am a Christ Follower, a wife, a mom of two little boys, a bible study/women’s ministry leader and a sales professional for a Fortune 1000 company. I was raised by a single mom and at 7 years old, I was baptized and invited Christ into my heart forever.

What key events have marked your journey?

The key events that have marked my journey are many but at the age of 7 years old, I was sexually abused by a family member multiple times. I didn’t tell anyone in my family until I was 17 years old. This abuse would forever change the direction of my life but ultimately, it brought me closer to God and showed me my desperate need for Him.  

Another key event that has recently marked my journey started in the Spring of 2011 when I started to get strange symptoms. After 2 1/2 years of testing and symptoms, it was determined that I have clinical Multiple Sclerosis.  Although I do not have a definite diagnosis and I always hope for God’s healing, I know that no matter what, God has the best plans for me even if that includes MS.    

What is your greatest struggle?

My greatest struggle is wanting to get even or get justice when someone hurts me. In early June 2010, I received a Facebook message. The Facebook message simply read “Hey, How’s life treatin ya?” Normally, a message like this would be fine but this message was from the man who sexually abused me as a 7-year-old child. I prayed  as to how God would have me respond. I replied to him with compassion and mercy, not because he deserved it, but because I had truly forgiven him for what he had done to me. I expected his response to be one of regret for what he had done or repentance. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I received a response back that was full of hate and disdain for me. His response felt like the devil himself had written it. I decided to do something with my righteous anger. That day, God broke my heart for this issue to where I couldn’t ignore the hurting women around me. I had to do something, so God directed me to start a sexual abuse recovery group at Hope Church where I am a member. I led two studies over a period of 9 months where women came and could share their struggles with sexual abuse and rape in a safe environment. Now that the group has ended, my church calls me anytime a woman has been raped or needs someone to talk to in regards to childhood sexual abuse. It’s an honor to be able to serve in this way.   

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

Being that I am a straight commissioned sales person and I deal with people’s money, I do have a lot of stress in my job. Faith has to come first.  Our family rarely misses church and I rarely miss my Monday night small group unless I’m sick. It’s not attendance that God is looking for but it’s about our heart. We also truly cherish the times we pray together at meals, bedtime and on road-trips and vacations. I find that when work is getting overwhelming, I need to de-stress quickly, so what I will grab the dog, pick up my kids from school and head to the local park to just hang out with them.

What is the best advice you have ever received? 

“You can never out-give God and you are never more like Jesus than when you are serving others.” The best times in my life have been when I serve others even in a small capacity. My stress at work and my “first world” problems like my car breaking down or my sales are down this month, pale in comparison to what’s going on across the globe.

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Thank you Dee Ann for your courage — not only your courage in life and faith, but the courage to stand up for abused women and publicly share your story. 

Does Dee Ann’s story strike a powerful or familiar chord?  If so, please let her know. 

Brooke’s Story: Turning A New Page At 30

As we launch our “Story Series” this week, I’d like to introduce you to Brooke Poague.   Brooke and I have been virtual friends since she picked up a copy of Chasing Superwoman, and she is part of a small but growing tribe of “Lady Lawyers” who read this blog.  

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

I am a mother, soon to be ex-wife, divorce lawyer (I see the irony), and Christian with the mouth of a well- educated sailor that I am working on.  Seriously…I am.  Work just seems to interfere with that every day! 

What key events have marked your journey?

I invited Christ into my life when I was about eight, but like a lot of people I didn’t really appreciate the relationship until my late twenties; my late twenties have marked several key events in my journey.

My son was born with a brachial plexus injury to his right arm when I was 25.  His arm was paralyzed and all the doctors said it would heal on its own.  Something deep down told me that wasn’t true.  After searching and seeing expert after expert, we were blessed to find surgeons at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital that were able to do amazing things.  Without them, Grant would have never used his arm.  He has about 80% usage and just finished his first season of baseball, playing third base!

I also received a cancer diagnosis at 27, and even though it was very early stage, I underwent 8 surgeries over a two-year period.  The cancer was vaginal, and for any woman who has had surgeries to remove breast, vaginal or any other “female” cancer, it can be disfiguring and a big blow to your “womanhood”.  All while trying to raise a young son and keep my failing marriage afloat.  For almost two years, my life revolved around oncology appointments, gynecology appointments, surgeries, recoveries, and figuring out which pain meds I could take and still work! 

My marriage began to fall apart about the same time my health took a turn for the worse.  I think that sometimes hardship bring people closer, but when people are just barely hanging on to their relationships, hard times are often the final straw.  We held on for about four more years and separated Spring 2013.  It’s amicable and the best I could hope for, but it’s always sad to see the end of an era.  It’s especially hard with kids. 

Sometimes, looking back, I don’t see how I made it through certain days, weeks or even months, but I did.  I made it with God’s help and the help of those that truly love me.  I won’t say it’s been easy, but I also can’t say that I don’t know people who have had it much worse.  There is always something to be thankful for.  Today I am thankful to be cancer free and surrounded by wonderful doctors that keep a close check on me, a little boy that hangs in there and plays ball as well as the next person despite his limitation and an amicable relationship with my son’s father.  This year, the age of 30, really seems, as it should, the beginning of a new decade.

What is your greatest struggle?

Juggling it all.  Owning a business, working full time (if not more), being a full-time single mother; it’s tough.  Work, school, camp, church, school projects, homework, team mom….It’s hard not to feel sorry for myself or get down, but at the end of the day when I put my blessings on one side of the scales and struggles on the other, the blessings always outweigh the struggles (even if I have to really look for them!).

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

It’s often hard to integrate my faith into my work.  I feel as if I can’t be too pushy with clients.  I often suggest marriage counseling and ways to save their marriage prior to filing for divorce.  The problem is that by the time they come to see me it’s usually too late.  At home I try to talk about the biblical aspects of situations with my five-year-old and we discuss “Jesus” and “heaven”; I think that’s about as far as you can go with him right now.  He’s still wondering where heaven is!

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Thanks, Brooke for launching our Story Series.  I’ve often said that God has a special mountain in heaven for women lawyers.  You can visit Brooke online at  www.baileypoague.com or at www.facebook.com/WetumpkaDivorceAttorneys.

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