All posts tagged Working Mom

Not Ready For Easter? You’re In Good Company

cross

I woke up in the middle of the night last night in a panic.  I dreamed it was Easter morning, and I had forgotten to fill the Easter baskets and hide the eggs.  I almost got out of bed until I realized I had another day.  So I took a deep breath and went back to sleep.

When I woke up this morning, it dawned on me.

I’m not ready for Easter.

Yet in the midst of my panic attack, I heard another voice.  A voice that is much calmer.  A voice that assures me that Easter is not about me, it’s about something much bigger.  Something miraculous that doesn’t depend on my efforts to fill Easter baskets or hide eggs.

Here’s what the voice said:

Keep it simple this year.

I know, this isn’t very profound.  But it hit me hard.  Probably because life is more complicated than it needs to be right now.  Granted, I no longer need to deal with Easter Bunny Drama (I never really liked that sneaky Easter Bunny anyway).  Yet I still feel the pressure to make Easter a big production – to get distracted from the real meaning of the death and resurrection of my Lord.

Truth be told, I wasn’t even ready for Lent this year.  The season has passed so quickly.  In an effort to “keep it simple” this week, I’ve been reading about the last week of Jesus’ life.  Every evening, we sit in the living room and read about the events of the day.  One thing I’m struck by (with some comfort) is this:  the disciples weren’t ready either.  They didn’t get it.  They didn’t prepare for Easter let alone fathom the events to come.  But this didn’t stop Jesus.

I may not be ready for Easter, but maybe that’s a good thing.  It forces me to “keep it simple” – to leave room for Jesus to surprise me instead of getting distracted by my own efforts and plans.  To even embrace an Easter miracle.

How will you keep Easter simple this year?   Are you ready for the unexpected?

Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”

The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.  (Luke 18: 31-34)

 

 

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.

*******

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!

Working Mom’s Devotional: Dealing With Pool Envy

Mom & kids

Most working moms long for pool time with our kids.   A friend recently lamented,

“I really resent the fact that my sitter takes my kids to the pool while I’m stuck working!”

I must admit, I’ve had this same thought.  And I don’t think I’m alone.  During the summer, most working moms suffer from a syndrome called “Pool Envy.”

Pool Envy looks something like this.

Everyone is having a relaxing summer except me.  If I stayed  at home this summer, I would spend my time lounging at the pool.  I would exercise every morning.  I would clean the entire house and be completely organized.  I would have my kids on tight but manageable schedules.  I would read lots of books and even have time to write. What ever happened to summer vacation?  

In reality, Pool Envy is delusional.  Most stay-at-home moms are having an equally chaotic summer.  They’re spending their time running around in minivans and shuttling kids back and forth to practices — not “lounging” at the pool every day.  Their houses aren’t tidy or organized.  And their kids aren’t on “tight” schedules.  In fact, one of my SAHM friends equally lamented, “My house is a disaster this summer — and I don’t have an excuse!”

We forget that the grass is never greener on the other side.  What’s worse, we allow Pool Envy to rob us of our summer joy.  So we ask God to renew our joy and give us a heart of gratitude.

Dear God,

Forgive me for allowing myself to wallow in Pool Envy.  I confess to you that I have been ungrateful.  Please renew my spirit.  Give me a thankful heart.  And help me to appreciate the moments of joy that you shower on me every day.

**********

Do you struggle with Pool Envy?

A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.  Proverbs 14:30 (KJV)

Working Moms: Where Do You Cut Corners?

Cutting corner

Working moms must constantly balance self care with the care of others.  As noted in a recent CNN article, the morning mommy compromise involves a few short cuts:

“For many moms on the go, pulling wet hair into a ponytail, skipping the face paint and grabbing a cereal bar on the way out the door to carpool will have to suffice.”

As a working mom, I’ve learned that my mental health requires that I cut corners.  In other words, in order to “feel” good, I must let go. 

To maintain our sanity (and to juggle the bazillion things on our plates), we must determine the “non-essentials” in life.   There are simply too many balls in the air.  Which ones are really worth our attention?

Life generally falls into three buckets:

1- The Core Essentials

2- The Essentials

3- The Non-Essentials

For me, the Core Essentials form a small list.  This includes the physical and spiritual health of my family.  It also requires some basic self-care, like eating and sleeping every day, and minimal (I do mean minimal) hygiene.  I am known to skip showers for extra sleep, and I typically eat breakfast at my desk.

Whenever I’m having a moment of stress, I ask myself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?”  If the Core Essentials remain intact, I take a deep breath and move on.

The Essentials are likewise important.   Each day, I strive to be a professional at work.  I strive to invest in the relationships that matter most – thinks includes tucking my kids in bed every night, having quality time with my husband, and making regular contact with close friends and out-of-town family.  I also put exercise, nutrition, writing, and having fun in the Essential category. 

But guess what?  Many days, the Essentials just don’t happen.  For example, at the end of the school year, I am completely exasperated from packing lunches every morning.  Abby (age 7) has completely worn me down, so I am feeding her lunchablesthe last two weeks of school!  When I’m in survival mode, I also tend to blow people off, skip blogging, and eat junk. 

Too many days, the Non-Essentials occupy most of my time.  This includes trying to figure out whether my children want pancakes or eggs for breakfast, reading a dozen parent emails about the end-of-school parties and gifts, and standing in line at the grocery during rush hour because I’m all out of milk. 

Yet some days, the Non-Essentials just can’t be avoided.  But if we view them as optional – and realize the world certainly won’t end if it waits until tomorrow – life becomes a little more manageable and a lot more enjoyable.

What are your Core Essentials?

What are your Essentials?

What are your Non-Essentials? 

Confessions Of A Working Mom Who Isn’t Ready For Easter

Hydrangeas

It’s not too late to get ready for Easter. Trust me, I am right there with you.

I had every intention of getting it “right” this year. 

But I’m still not ready.

Here’s what I haven’t done.   

  • I planned to write a special blogging series this week on Mary’s last week with Jesus.  It didn’t happen!
  • I have nothing to put in the Easter baskets (I haven’t even pulled them out of the basement to see if I need new straw).
  • I didn’t even make it to church on Palm Sunday.

If I’m not careful, I may miss Easter completely!

Yet something is terribly wrong with my list of what’s “undone.”

It’s obvious. 

It’s all about me me me!

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in our worlds that we forget it’s not about us.  It’s about Jesus.  It’s not about the Easter candy, the “to do” list, or even attending a church service. 

Last night, in the midst of my “me meltdown” I started to read through the last week of Jesus’ life here on earth.  And I was taken in by the passion.  I’ve read this story dozens of times.  I know how it ends.  Yet I’m still hanging on to every word, waiting to see what happens next.  Jesus travels to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast.  He must soon say goodbye to his family and friends.  He must soon face humiliation and abandonment.  He must soon face death alone. 

And the flower of Easter will bloom on Sunday morning with or without me.

And for the first time in a long time, I start to pay attention.

As I prepare for Easter, I see that it’s not about me.   The temporary cares of this world can wait.  My “to do” list can wait. 

But Jesus can’t wait.  His time is come. 

Will you join me in preparing for Easter?  Throw away your “to do” list.  It’s still not too late!