Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


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Mama Self Care: Creatively Feeding our Souls

I find that so often mamas neglect the special gifts and passions God has given them, the things that make them uniquely THEM.   God has made us body, soul, and spirit, and He wants us to take care of all of those parts of ourselves.   These creative things sometimes seem so unimportant in light of the urgencies of daily life with little kids.  But I’ve noticed—when we don’t cultivate those special creative gifts He’s given us, we kind of wither inside.

That’s not to say that we should express creativity at the cost of our families, but there are ways to flourish in the small moments!

I believe as people made in the image of God, we are all creative in some area.  For me it is writing, making things, and maybe art?  (Something new I am exploring.)  For you, it might be cooking, event planning, decorating, organizing, serving others, or any number of other things.  Don’t get bogged down in what you can’t do.  Just do what you can.  Find simple expressions of your passions.  At risk of sounding like I have this all figured out, because I so do not!—here are a few ways I am incorporating soul-nourishing passions into daily life.

Write for just 15 minutes before the kids get up.  It’s not much.  One mom I read recently said, “I don’t have the luxury of writer’s block.”  Seriously, that is so true.  I hammer something out and it may or may not be good.  But at least I am writing!

Very, very simple craft projects.  I have a super simple brainless knitted dish cloth pattern that I have done while I school the kids or sit in a waiting room.  It would be nice to make a sweater or a pair of socks, but sister, that ain’t happening right now!  Sometimes I sew pillow covers.  Straight lines that take about 5 minutes.  That kind of thing.

A little art here and there.  I nature journal with the kids.  I stapled together a few pieces of paper for a mini sketch book and put it in my purse.  Experts say “Are you sketching every day?”  Well, no.  That would be nice.  Maybe one day.  But just because I am not sketching EVERY DAY, I am not going to let that discourage me from sketching AT ALL.  And every now and then, I just push aside the mess on the table and pull out my watercolors.  Now that is fun!

Maybe you take one photo a day, plan a simple tea for a friend, or paint one wall of one room. Maybe you just organize one drawer.

These are ways to slip a little creativity, a little passion, into our daily lives.  It may not be the perfect ideal we have in our heads, but those tiny moments can make such a difference in how we feel emotionally.

So: How are you going to incorporate a simple bit of creativity into your life today?


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Art for People Who Aren’t Artistic (or Moms Can Find Latent Creativity Too!)


A little ramble about a many-years-long journey to discover creativity…Maybe it will encourage you, too, friends?

I never, ever imagined myself painting!

For years and years I said, “I am not creative.”  “I’m not artistic.”

My house wasn’t decorated, all my crafts were copies, and I hadn’t made art since I was a kid.

I started to see myself as a bit creative as I copied crafts I saw other people do, and then started to come up with a few little ideas of my own for simple crafts or easy decorating.

Finally I determined that as people made in the image of a creative God, we are all creative.  Maybe it’s not art, maybe it’s friendship or math or cooking or gardening or computers.  Maybe your creativity is wholly untapped.  But I’m pretty sure that it’s there.

Recently I started to sketch a bit with the little ones.  I have kept a very sporadic nature journal in the past, which I enjoyed, but I didn’t feel like I could actually sketch.

Still…I remembered something I read in a how-to-draw book once…Anyone can increase their skill level starting where they are.  If you haven’t drawn since you were 10 years old, then expect to draw like a 10 year old!

I realized that at heart I really am an artist.

At heart.

Not that I could actually draw or paint or anything, but I do appreciate beauty and wouldn’t it be nice if I actually could, because I’m an artist, you know, at heart.

And then I got the itch to buy some watercolor paints.  I don’t know why.  I don’t know why watercolors.    I have never painted that I recall.

I read an old children’s book we had called How to Paint with Watercolors.  I watched one YouTube video on watercolor painting.

I used the Hobby Lobby gift card I got for Christmas and bought paints, brushes, and paper.

Then when the kids were painting, I sat down with my favorite bird calendar and I painted a Savannah Sparrow.

And it actually looked like a bird.  It even looked kind of like the picture I was copying.

So I think that with practice and study, I might actually learn how to paint!

This is not something I anticipated or ever dreamed I could do.  I just had to try.  I had to stop comparing myself to “real” artists or “really” talented people, and plunge in.  It’s very imperfect; there are a zillion things that I think could be better, but I am trying not to focus too much on those.

A few writers have inspired me and given me courage.  One is Clarice at Storybook Woods.  I love that Clarice is so comfortable with herself, even though what she does is different from the mainstream.  I love that she does things (like sketching) alongside her daughters, and that even though she is dyslexic, she is also brave and homeschooled her children and also wrote a book!

Another is the Nester.  I love her tagline: “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.”  She says it about your house.  I think the same applies to art.

So anyway, here is what I have learned through all this.  If I can find untapped creativity, so can you.  Keep trying until you discover what it is you like to do.  It won’t look like anyone else’s.  That is why it’s creativity.  There is no one right way.  Sometimes, in the middle of dirty diapers and piles of dishes and laundry, we moms just need to stop and let our creativity flow.

Finally?  Here’s a little extra inspiration via Pinterest.

Is there something you have always wanted to do but never thought you could?  Go for it!  If you enjoy it, practice until you feel comfortable!  Release the creativity God has given you!  You can do it!


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What to Do When You Are Bored (To the Younger Ladies…But Ideas for Everyone!)


OK, ladies, I’m not trying to be mean here but it just is amazing to me when people complain about being bored.  We live in such an interesting world and there is no way on earth I can possibly do all the wonderful things I would like to do.  So here is a list of possible things to do when you are bored, just for inspiration.  This is especially for those of you who aren’t married, and even for you who don’t yet have children.  Don’t waste this time in your life!  Use it for God!

  • Volunteer at a church.  Call your church office.  They probably have plenty of volunteer opportunities.
  • Volunteer at a charity.
  • Learn a second language.
  • Learn to cook.
  • Learn a craft, such as sewing, jewelry making, or painting.
  • (There are so many free online resources for learning things like these!)
  • Spend time with a housebound person.  They become very lonely.
  • Visit a nursing home.  Nursing homes can be intimidating, but they can be black holes of loneliness for the elderly.  Ask the staff to connect you with someone who has no visits from family or friends.  There are plenty of them.  Elderly people can tell fascinating stories and are often full of wisdom.  Sometimes their minds or ability to communicate are gone and there is no reward except for knowing that you have loved them and provided companionship.
  • Adopt an elderly person who is not necessarily housebound.  Rake their leaves, change light bulbs, and do other tasks they are no longer able to do for themselves.
  • Get a job. If you have a job, get a second job.  Save your money or give it to a worthy cause.
  • Go on a short term mission trip.
  • Enroll in college, trade school, or seminary/Bible school.
  • Spend time with God.  Don’t underestimate the opportunity you have at this stage of your life to spend uninterrupted time with Jesus!  It will lay the foundation for the rest of your life.
  • Volunteer to babysit for your pastor’s family or another young couple who may not be able to hire a sitter regularly.  Don’t be offended if they don’t take you up on your offer, they will appreciate your heart all the same.
  • Offer to help an overwhelmed young mom (or even one that doesn’t seem overwhelmed—heh!).  Maybe she needs someone to give her a hand with organizing, cleaning, or running errands.
  • Write encouraging notes to those who might need them.
  • Pray.
  • Grow a garden, even a collection of potted plants.
  • Travel.
  • Read biographies of great Christians and world-changers.  These can be lifechanging!
  • Keep a journal.
  • Try your hand at writing fiction or poetry.
  • Seek out a mentor, an older Christian woman you admire.  Ask her to meet with you for discipleship, or just to be available to answer questions and chat.

Basically, it boils down to two things.  Love Jesus.  Seek to become all that He wants you to be.  And love people.  Pour yourself into them.  You can’t lose!  And you won’t be bored either!


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Social Media, Behave! and Make an Easy Advent Calendar

On day 1 of her “Social Media, Behave!” series, Laura talks about pitfalls of social media (trying to achieve fame or other wrong motives), and what each of us might expect from social media.   On day 2, she explores our “online presence,” our avatar, or how we portray ourselves online.  Additionally, she encourages us to write a one-sentence purpose statement.  Here’s what I came up with for me:

I exist online to share the love and grace of Christ with others; to learn from other, especially older, women; and to share what I learn in order to encourage others in their journeys of faith, womanhood, and mothering.

**********

Bonus!  Here is something little that I learned online–not from an older woman, and not something profound!  The kids wanted to do some kind of advent calendar or Christmas countdown but I struggled to find ideas that didn’t take too much time.  Either they were too arty and hard to make, or they involved activities that we may or may not have time to do during the month of December.  (Watching a Christmas movie, for example, is great, but how do I know if it will be convenient to do that on December 9?  Seriously!)

Finally I ran across a super fast idea–fast to make, and easy to do.  I don’t remember where I saw it, but I modified it to fit my needs.

I cut 25 rectangular pieces of paper.  Folded them in half like a card.  The kids stamped a snowflake on the front of each one and I numbered them from 1 to 25.

We are all about fostering communication and conversation at our house, so instead of an activity,  I wrote a question inside each one.  “What is your favorite Christmas memory?”  “What do you think it would have been like to be a shepherd on the first Christmas?”  “What is something we could do for someone else this Christmas?”  “Do you know of any Christmas traditions from other countries?”  “Ask mom/dad to tell you a Christmas story from when they were little.”

And then I hung them up with clothespins like the picture above.

How easy is that?  You even have time to do it before December 1!


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Non-food Treats

image: pinterest

Whether you have food limitations or you just don’t want to focus too much on food as a reward, it’s always great to have some treats that aren’t to eat.  Here is a list the kids and I came up with.

A walk or bike ride

Library

Bubble bath

Read aloud

Board game

Soccer or other outdoor game

Coloring page

Dance party

New iTunes

Sing-along

Dollars in the movie jar (add money as a reward, and then go see a movie when there is enough)

Craft

Have a friend over

Thrift store or garage sale trip

Picnic

Water games

Tea

Hide and Seek

Make Art

Back rub

Bird watching/nature walk

Fishing

Gardening

Painting nails

Any other ideas?


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31 Days to a Kitchen You Love

We’ve all heard, I suppose, that the kitchen is the heart of the home. And traditionally it was. These days it’s more likely to be the place where we pour a bowl of cereal or zap a premade meal in the microwave.

But for those of us with a few kids who want to feed our families healthfully or have special dietary needs, the kitchen becomes a place where we spend a LOT of time. So why shouldn’t it be the heart of the home, the best place in the house, the place where people are drawn to hang out and where we love to cook? We’re going to spend many hours there each day anyway; why not make it a place of blessing, abundance, and beauty? The place where conversations happen and memories are made?

I’m joining The Nester and her friends for 31 days of posting. Each participant chooses her own topic. Mine is 31 Days to a Kitchen You Love. This comes at a perfect time for me, since I had already planned to revamp my kitchen while spending almost nothing. A remodel would be nice, but until then I want to make the best of the kitchen I have, even if it’s not perfect. Truly, I have a great kitchen in size and shape. Before baby was born I did quite a bit of organizing, but in the ensuing chaos of learning to live with 5 small children, it’s quickly fallen into disarray. Over the next month I’m looking forward to doing some small thing each day to make it work better, and to make it a prettier and more fun place to be. And each day (fingers crossed), I’ll write a bit about it.

After all, the journey I haltingly chronicle on my sporadic little blog is what I learn about being a better mom, and that includes even the “have to,” mundane parts of life like tidying the pantry. But it’s much more than that. I want to become a better and more organized cook, I want to learn more how to nourish my family well, and how to nurture and disciple them in the small, daily bits of life, even while we’re cooking supper or washing dishes. The kitchen can be a place of disorder and drudgery, or it can be a sanctuary of worship as we practice God’s presence in the everyday and ordinary. I love the way Ann Voskamp says it…Because all of life flames with God…

Will you join me?

Day 2: Window Treatments

Day 3: Cleaning up the Window, plus Chicken Spinach Salad w/Honey Lime Dressing Recipe

Day 4: Countertops, Inspiration via Nigella Lawson, and a thought about kids in the kitchen

Days 5 and 6: Hey friends, I haven’t forgotten about 31 days. The past couple have been insane, but there is so much going on in my mind and heart that I want to share asap! I had to download the wordpress ap just so I could write this update since I can’t even get to the computer…hopefully tomorrow! Ironic that just when the thoughts begin to flow, I am hindered! Bear with me please!

Day 7~Just trying to breathe today, I shared a couple lovely kitchen links!

Day 8: Love Jesus.  Love People. 

Day 9: Oops!

Day 10: Make Nontoxic Cleaners

I’m afraid I’m failing miserably at my attempt at 31 days, so I’m going to delete my button from the link-up.  I’m glad I did it but my posts have been sub par.  What I’ve learned through this is that I don’t have time to blog daily no matter how much I want to, and I’d rather have quality poss less often than obligatory posts every day.  Thanks for reading!


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Thrifty Curtains


Excuse the horrible picture quality.  I’m such a novice with my camera.  But I wanted to talk a little bit about thrifty decorating.  DISCLAIMER: I’m no decorator, as anyone who has been to my house can tell you.

I’m learning.

I have never been good at decorating, first because I just didn’t know how, and secondly because I didn’t feel I could justify the cost.  I wrote once about how I spent a lot on some bedroom drapes once and vowed never again.  I have read a lot of blogs by women who have created beautiful homes on the cheap for their entire lives (one of my favorites is The Cultivated Nest).  They encouraged me that I could do it too, so I started trying to think outside the retail box.   At Christmas I created some pretty window treatments with clearance curtains and ring clips and I was happy with the change but it was a lot of red.  For $9 I could live with it, though.

The other day I was at the thrift store.  Yes, I shop there.  I will have to write a post one day about coming out of the thrift store closet.  I have found so many treasures (often new with tags) for pennies on the dollar.  Anyway, Tuesday the ladies were putting out their new stock and one of them asked me “Are you looking for curtains?  These just came in.  They’re $12.”

Well, I wasn’t sure but I grabbed them anyway.  Nice curtains and drapes go quickly at the thrift store and I wanted to have them in my hands in case anyone else was looking too!  In the end I decided that since these curtains would go well in our room and they were clean and in perfect condition, I’d shell out the $12.

I’m SO glad I did!  I washed them and hung them the next day.  They were too thin and filmy to block out as much light as I needed, so I did sew a double lining on the back, using flat sheets I had.  (My kids hate sleeping with flat sheets, so yay me, when I buy a sheet set I have extras for projects like this.)

There’s no real profound purpose to this post except to encourage you all that we can make pretty changes in our homes that don’t cost a lot.  I constantly hear women say “I can’t decorate because I don’t have much money.”  I am realizing that is not true!



While I was at it I gave the rest of my room a mini makeover, mostly just decluttering and changing a few items from darks to light, neutral colors.  Let me tell you about this rocking chair.  When my oldest was born, a friend gave it to me.  She had used it in her son’s nursery.  (He is in high school now!)  My babies and I have logged MANY hours in this chair!  The denim upholstery had become faded and worn and didn’t match anything else I had, and I thought about replacing it.  But since this little one is our last, I wanted to use it for sentimental reasons.  It’s sweet to rock my littlest fella in the same chair I’ve used to rock all my other babies.

Throwing a (wrinkled) sheet over the chair works and extended the life of my favorite rocker.  So again–cheap and easy.  I like it and that’s what matters.  I’m no designer, but I’m trying to keep open eyes for inexpensive ways to make home a pretty, comfortable place for my little family.  To me, that’s the fun of homemaking!


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