Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


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Make a Cute Wardrobe for $5 a Month

I have heard women say time and again, “I can’t dress cute because I don’t have any money for clothes.”

Hogwash!

No woman should ever lack cute outfits because of a tight budget—at least not in the USA.

There was a time when I never dreamed of shopping thrift.  I don’t know why—I guess in my mind that is where poor people shopped.  So I would cripple along on my frugal clearance outfit or feel guilty for paying full price out of desperation.

Thrifting changed all of that.  I’ll never be a fashionista, but I am happy with my wardrobe most of the time.

Here’s another thing I hear about clothes.  “I don’t want to spend money on clothes until I lose weight.”

Don’t ever go there!  You can look beautiful and put together no matter what your size!  Don’t let extra pounds discourage you from taking care of yourself and dressing nicely.

Sometimes when I go to the thrift store they have nothing I can use, and other days I totally score. 

I’m careful about thrift shopping because it does take a little more time, time I don’t have.  My favorite tiny thrift store is on a main street where I pass at least weekly, so I try to give myself an extra few minutes to pop in and look around.

The other day was totally a “score” day.

I found 4 pairs of never-worn, tags still on Bermuda shorts in my size, from Target, Sears, JC Penney, and Eddie Bauer.

Never mind that size is not the one I wish I was in.

And I don’t even know if Bermuda shorts are still in style.

But.  They looked good on me, and at 75 cents each, how could I pass them up?

Think about this.  What if you had only $5 a month to spend on clothes?

One month you score like this.  Or a piece here and there.  $3 total.

The next month, maybe you find four cute shirts for a similar price.

That is not a big wardrobe, but if they are clothes you love, you could wash them regularly and have a minimal everyday wardrobe for the whole season—for literally less than $10.

Not all thrift stores are created equal.  Where I live, the biggest and most popular one in town has higher prices, it’s dirty, the employees are rude, and they never have sales.  Occasionally I brave it because their selection is huge, but not often.  My little store is in a quieter part of town, it’s small, and a lot of people don’t even know it’s there.  But it’s also clean, well run, and inexpensive, and that keeps me coming back several times a month.

Another thing I love to thrift are housewares. 

My house doesn’t look like it came from the pages of Flea Market Style, but it does look a lot cuter than it did before I started shopping thrift.  I could never bring myself to spend bookoodles of cash on brand new housewares when there were more important things to buy.

Here’s a recent find.  The cute stripey plates are Ralph Lauren and the complete set came with a platter too.  Everything else in the photo is thrifted as well, except the candles that I got for 90% off clearance after Christmas one year.

Just a few bucks for a whole lot of pretty.

I know this post has been rambly, but I just want to encourage you—if you don’t normally thrift, it’s a great way to save huge amounts of money.  Just give it a try!

If you’re a thriftier, what is your favorite-ever find?  What items do you look for on a regular basis?

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall.

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Has Mothering Burned You Out?

Today’s Mentor Monday is not by a mom, but a dad: Jeff VanVonderen, who is also a seasoned pastor, counselor, and writer.  Jeff’s writings have been essential in my growth, particularly as I came out of legalistic religious organizations and belief systems.

“[T]oo often…the work we do as Christian spouses and parents is not the right job at all. 

We focus on “unspiritual” or wrong behavior, then we set out to apply pressure, control behavior, and do everything in our power to change our spouse or children. 

As I have seen with numerous couples and families, this is the primary cause of exhaustion, depression, and the hopeless sense of wanting to bail out of it all.  When people spend their lives trying to transform their spouse and their kids, the natural results is tiredness and discouragement and the desire to quit…

The first step is easy—if we will do it: We must learn the simple difference between God’s job and ours. 

God knows you have done the best you could, using the tools you’ve had.  But God may be…saying to you, “I can see that you’ve worked really hard to help me and to please me.  But—I don’t quite know how to tell you this—you have been burning yourself out doing a job I never meant for you to do…”

I am talking about learning how to be continually empowered by God’s grace, and therefore able to empower your spouse and children to learn and to grow.  And to do that, we have to make the frightening step of giving up our fear of people and our drive to conform outwardly to what other Christians expect of us, or seem to.

God’s job is to fix and change.  Our job is to depend, serve, and equip.  This is the work of grace.  And it is more restful than you can imagine.”

~Families Where Grace is in Place by Jeff VanVonderen

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall.

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Linking:

Better Mom Mondays


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Why You Should Take a Day Off

Each month I am looking at one of 5 positive disciplines mentioned by Michael Hyatt in this podcast to re-order our family lives so we can use the internet for good and avoid its destructive impact.  The discipline for the month of August is Rest.

In the Old Testament, God gave his people the Sabbath—one day of rest out of every seven.

Imagine how hard women must have worked in those days, when they had no choice but to be self-sustaining—they had to grow all their own food and make their own clothing.  I’m sure Sabbath brought welcome refreshment!

After Jesus came, God’s people are no longer bound by Old Testament laws, but there’s wisdom to be found in the idea of Sabbath all the same.

Our culture glorifies busy-ness.  It’s foreign to our way of thinking to set aside an entire day each week just for rest and refreshment.  In fact, it seems impossible!

But if we don’t take some kind of time to recharge, then we’ll eventually crash and burn.  I’ve experienced it, and maybe you have too.

Sunday is a work day for my husband, so it’s usually impossible for us to take Sunday as a Sabbath—but we have made a conscious commitment to pencil in a rest day on our calendar–literally.  We use Cozi for family organization, and “Sabbath” is there right alongside our other appointments.  Sometimes it’s Friday and sometimes it’s Saturday, but at least one day a week we try to have the calendar clear.

It’s not a legalistic rule (some weeks it’s truly impossible), and we are finding our way.  After all, the kids still have to eat and have clean clothes to wear, and we mamas all know that the house doesn’t stay tidy by itself.  But it helps me to anticipate our Sabbath and try to cook ahead a little, catch up the laundry if possible, and just reorient my mind for rest.

It’s a relief to give myself permission to sleep a little later, watch TV or read, let a few of the dailies go, and do fun, relaxing things with the kids.

It goes so against the grain of our culture.  Society is always “on.”  Not only are most businesses open seven days a week, but increasingly we have “cities that never sleep”—and not just NYC.  I can wake up at any time of the night and hear traffic.  We are busy during the week and we feel pressured to cram our weekends full of chores, activities, and social engagements.

We’ve lost the ability to just rest.

And we’re paying for it.

This week’s challenge: Put a Sabbath on your calendar. 

Take a day for some R&R.  Try not to get caught up on all that has to be done around the house—let as much of it go as possible, just this once.  See how you feel.

Was your week more productive?  Do you have more energy?  Check back and let me know!

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!

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How Many Children Should We Have? Part 2

{Read Part 1 here.}

Here’s the thing.

Biblically, I know that we live in a broken world.

I believe that in a perfect world, every person would be able to fully care for as many children as they could biologically produce.

In a perfect world there would be no pain or sickness, no conditions that require intense times of special care (of children or parents), unlimited energy, time, emotional resources, finances, mental resources, food, and help.

But we don’t live in a perfect world.  Sin and Satan have conspired to break everything good.

In light of the fact that God does not condemn birth control, and that we live in a broken world where sometimes people are too sick or exhausted or poor to care for another child, I still don’t believe it’s an easy decision.

To me, it’s choosing the better of two bad options, the only options given us on this sin-shattered planet.

One is to disallow the life of another human being in order to steward the resources God has provided us for those children He’s already given.

The other is to have more children, realizing that it may be difficult to adequately care for them (financially, emotionally, or in some other way).

Yet I have to know that God sees our hearts, and that we can be blameless if our hearts are right before Him.  Do we seek Him?  Do we have His heart toward children?  Do we view them as a blessing or a curse (both those we have and those we might conceive)?  Do we have children, or not, according to His directive?  Are we willing to do whatever He asks us to do, whether it’s to have more children or not?

These are questions and thoughts I struggle with.  I wish there were an easy answer, a solution at the snap of our fingers.  But there’s not.  It comes back to our relationship with the Author of life.

And seeking God brings peace.  Following Him brings peace.  Obedience brings peace.

In peace, we can rest.

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!


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How Many Children Should We Have? Part 1

I don’t have a Mentor Monday post today.  Instead, I’m going to share about a topic I have wrestled with for many years, and the fruit of those years of study, thought, and prayer.

“Should we have another baby?” 

Over the years, I’ve had a lot of conversations with other women about family size.  It’s a decision that is supposed to be easy to make in our culture, but usually it’s not.  When my friends share their hearts about this topic, I so appreciate their transparency and boy can I identify.

I grew up in a large family and loved it.  I have always wanted a large family.  And now I have one.  No regrets.

I know some Christians don’t struggle with the idea of family size at all.  They view it as a decision for them to make, they make it, and they don’t think twice about it.

Then there are those on the other end of the spectrum, like the Duggar family, who don’t believe in limiting family size at all.

I believe the Biblical view falls somewhere in the middle.

I believe what God says when He tells us that children are an unqualified blessing.

Any child conceived is an eternal soul, made in the image of God.  I think we forget this sometimes in our cavalier attitude toward not having them.

I don’t believe that it’s ever a mistake to have another child.  Children are not a mistake.  They are precious to God and should be to us also.

I realize that, according to Jeremiah, God knows our children BEFORE they are conceived.  I have always had a great fear (respectful fear, not terror) of not having a child God has planned for me.

Our desire should be to have God’s heart toward children—He views them as a blessing, a reward, a gift, He loves them and He calls children to come to Him.

The Bible doesn’t address the issue of birth control at all.  And yes, it existed in Bible times, albeit not in the sophisticated forms we have today.  Scriptures used by “quiverfull” advocates are twisted and pulled out of context, proof-texts turned around to support their view.  God does not forbid limiting family size.

I respect the decision of any couple to have as many children as they desire, including the decision to forego all ways to limit or space children.  I believe that if God leads a family in this way, He will also provide for them sufficiently.

I believe that if a couple chooses to limit their family size, they should choose a way of doing so that does not threaten the life of a child they might inadvertently conceive.  Some common methods of birth control are potentially abortifacent.

I know that a lot of people claim that they can’t afford more children when in reality they don’t want to do without luxuries.

I have talked to many, many older people who wish they had had more children.

I have never talked to a parent of many who regrets any of the children they have.

I believe that most people pray more about whether to get married, change jobs, move, or buy a new puppy than about whether to conceive another child, another eternal soul made in God’s image.

But there’s a caveat.

{Read Part 2 here}

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!

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Linking to Better Mom Monday

A Pause on the Path

Deep Roots at Home

New Life Steward

*For those who have linkies in which I participated this morning…I am having difficulty linking back.  Please be patient, I do want to link to you!*


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More Ways to Tell Your Brain it’s Time for Sleep

Each month I am looking at one of 5 positive disciplines mentioned by Michael Hyatt in this podcast to re-order our family lives so we can use the internet for good and avoid its destructive impact.  The discipline for the month of August is Rest.

Throughout most of history, darkness told our bodies that it was time for rest. 

When the sun went down, people went to bed because they didn’t have much choice.

In modern times, though, we can extend daytime indefinitely with bright lights.  Often our bodies never get the message that it’s time for sleep.

If you’ve committed to going to bed earlier and turning off screens before bed time, why not take another step?

This week’s challenge:

Dim the lights as bedtime approaches. 

Turn out all the lights in rooms you aren’t using, and use soft lamps and candles only.  Not only will you feel sleepier, but soft light is romantic, right?  It’s a win-win!

I know that so many couples feel they are too exhausted or busy for private time together, but if you are going to bed early, turning off the TV and other screens, and dimming the lights, maybe it won’t seem so impossible after all!

A bonus challenge for those who don’t already do this: create simple, peaceful bedtime rituals for your children. 

Read them a story, sing a lullaby, pray with them.  Tuck them in with soft music or audio Bible stories if they are used to having noise to go to sleep.  Isn’t this better than letting them fall asleep in front of the TV?  I am not very good at bedtime routines, so this will be a challenge for me—but a very necessary one.

What about you?  What soothing bedtime routines do you use to help you and your children feel like it’s time for sleep?

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Linking:

WIP Wednesday

Women Living Well Wednesday

Works for Me Wednesday


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Mentor Monday: Mrs. Ferre

“My training to serve God began in the school of prayer, which is the strongest power on earth. 

As my mind wanders back into my childhood days, and memories unfold as pages in a book, I remember how Mama brought us eight children up on prayer.  She served it both as a full-course meal and snacks in between.  There was no escaping from this order.  It was the only contact between heaven and earth, so when one wanted to commune with God, one must pray…

Mama was impatient in her praying.  She was never willing to wait for things, but expected an immediate answer…

To Mama, prayer came as easy as breathing.  Even if she knew people termed her prayer method strange and naïve, it never seemed to bother her.  She kept on praying that the cake she had placed in the oven would not fall and that the food would stretch a long way because there were so many to feed at the table. 

And there was the long line of people who depended on her help and came to ask her to take their problems to God for them.  Those people surely believe that God would answer them through Mama.  They felt that in some strange way she was “in” with God and that He would grant her what He would refuse them.  So prayers would be sent out for a quick sale of their house, for a husband to be kinder to his wife, and children to recover from their colds. 

I often heard her prayers and saw the people coming, and I never remember one who went away disappointed.  Things did change when Mama talked with God.”

~Mama’s Way by Thyra Ferre Bjorn

The example of Thyra’s mother influenced her children to follow God.  Mama’s Way is a little book about prayer that tells about the fruit that was borne in her life because of her mother’s example.

It challenged me to set a better example to my children in the area of prayer.

Do you pray in front of your children?  How do you set an example that will inspire them spiritually?

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Linking to Better Mom Mondays

On My Heart

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!  Also, look for my e-book, Fearless Mothering, this fall!


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How to Reach Your Child’s Heart Part 2 (Parenting Lessons from Inc Magazine)

I’m looking at parallel thoughts inspired by Inc Magazines article 10 Habits of Remarkably Charismatic People.  Find part 1 here.

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Remember that your kids are valuable because they are made in the image of God, not because of their performance.

In our families, we can become so consumed with good grades, proper behavior, or how our kids reflect on us, that we can fail to love and accept our children just as they are.  They are far more important than straight A’s or making the football team.  Do they know this?

Praise.

Do we praise our children when they do right?  Do we share their success with others?  I don’t mean we should brag obnoxiously, but our children should know we are proud of them.

Use positive words.

Do our kids hear us complain about what it’s like to be a mom?  Do we constantly talk about the sleepless nights and discipline troubles?  Or do they hear us talk with joy about what we do?  Yes, it can be hard.  But it is also one of the most amazing and rewarding jobs in the world.  Do we talk this way around our children?

Don’t be critical.

Don’t have a critical spirit toward other people.  If your children hear you constantly criticizing others, they will lose trust in you as they realize that it’s just a matter of time before that criticism is turned on them.

Be quick to make things right.

Tell your kids when you mess up.  They already know.  Seek their forgiveness.  Nothing is more attractive than humility.

When it comes right down to it, becoming “charismatic” in the context of our families this is simply following the golden rule: treating our children the way we want to be treated.

How are you treating your kids today?

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How to Win Your Child’s Heart Part 1 (Parenting Lessons from Inc Magazine)

Our kids want to feel valued and accepted.

They want to know they are some of the most important people in our lives.

Do we always communicate this in a way they understand?

Inc Magazine recently published a great article called 10 Habits of Remarkably Charismatic People, which basically outlined how to make others feel valued.

Charismatic people are just people who make others feel significant, special, wanted, loved.  That’s attractive.  Some people might use these principles selfishly (faking an interest in others so they’ll be liked or gain a business edge), but as moms, we can genuinely employ this universal wisdom to help our children feel loved, and in turn to open their hearts to us as we become attractive to them.

I thought about these 10 principles and realized that there are similar ones that apply to parenting. Here’s what I came up with.

Listen, don’t lecture.

Having a conversation with a kid takes a lot of time.  It is so tempting to cut them off and just give advice, but this won’t win them over.  I find that when my girls are upset, sometimes I have to hold them, let them cry, and listen to their hearts for about half an hour before they actually find the words to express the real problem.  I would miss that if I jumped right into into fix-it mode or advice mode.

Don’t just hear what you want to hear.

Moms, we need to truly listen to our children and seek to relate to them.  Don’t brush off their thoughts and feelings even if they seem silly to you.  Remember what it was like when you were a kid?  Share that!  Let your children know that you “get” them!

Give them your full attention.

Turn off the computer, put away your phone, stop scanning while you half-listen.  Look them in the eye and focus on them.

Serve selflessly even if you don’t feel rewarded or appreciated.

Mothering can feel like a thankless task sometimes.  I confess, I have been guilty at times of saying something like, “I went to all the effort of (repainting your room, cooking your favorite food, throwing you a party)—and this is the thanks I get?”  I know, not my finest mom moments.  But true sacrificial mothering doesn’t look for something in return.  It just serves like Jesus.

Don’t lord your position over your children.

“Because I’m the mom, that’s why!”  Who hasn’t said that—or at least thought it?  We mamas shouldn’t lord our authority over our children.  There was a time in my life when I thought good mothering was strict and adversarial.  That authoritarian attitude drove a huge wedge in my relationship with my children.  When I started exercising my parental authority in a gentle, sacrificial way, I saw my children’s hearts open to me.

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Look for Part 2 tomorrow.

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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