How many children do you have? I have four children.
How old are your children? Ages 16, 14, 10, and 7.
Are you a mom of boys, girls, or both? I have three girls and one boy.
How do I continue to rise in the power and strength of the Lord in this age?
How do you balance it all?
I do not balance it all and I reject the mindset that balancing my life is part of my “job” as a parent. I am not “Supermom” and I have ceased trying to be. I came to this conclusion when I found myself failing as I attempted to keep all my plates spinning, resulting in a stressed, angry person to live with. I have learned to choose my priorities regarding my calling as a wife and mother. Living out my calling has nothing to do with what others expect of me, but what God has given me as a ministry. My main ministry is to my family. What I say “yes” to must be related to how it will help me live out my calling.
About eight years ago, I volunteered for every church event, bringing my children in tow, and dropping them in the church childcare. Naturally, I was wearing myself thin doing this several times a week. Shortly before the birth of my fourth child, I very clearly heard God tell me to “stop”. Stop volunteering (masked as serving) and stay home to serve my family. I fought Him because I thought I was justified and using my gifts for the church.
I soon realized that God blessed me with a husband and four beautiful children, but I was using my time and energy at church instead of fully caring for my family and devoting time to the relationships around me. Eight years later, we keep all activities at a minimum. If our family time is continuously sacrificed, I need to figure out what to step away from. I do not feel shame or stress in saying no because my greatest calling is to my family.
Another reason I have found balance an impossible goal is because there are seasons that some things must take a different priority. My daughter has struggled with chronic health problems over the past few years. I have had to make difficult “yes” and “no” decisions where her needs are concerned. There are many days where my main ministry is working through her challenges by preparing for doctors’ appointments. In future seasons, her needs will change, and other things will need to shift. Since I have made it a priority to make space and not be concerned with balance, I do not have to worry about keeping plates spinning.
I say yes to family activities that build memories. I plan activities that teach character qualities and strengthen my children in mind, body, and spirit. We love to walk nature trails and learn. We love to build and create. We love to read a devotional together and talk about God’s world throughout the day. We attend church consistently and get involved in service activities as a family, but you will not find us in our church building every week.
I also make sure I set aside time for self-care, because if I am not staying filled emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually I cannot serve my family. I love to take baths, read a book, take a walk, and grab coffee with a friend. I have to prioritize time in God’s Word to fill my spirit and allow me to pray and listen to Him. This looks different in different seasons, but God honors any time we can give to cultivating our relationship with him.
Balance would be amazing in a perfect world, but that is not where I live. The longer I have been a parent, I have seen the more I align with the ministry God has given me, the more peace I feel. That means sometimes dishes go unwashed, laundry unfolded, carpets not vacuumed. It means removing that “Supermom” cape and throwing it in the trash.
Share about a time God helped you to release control.
When I was pregnant with my youngest, I had complications that required two surgeons in my planned C-section delivery. We were aware a necessary hysterectomy was a possibility. I had been advised not to have a fourth child because of possible complications, but God had another plan. I went into the surgery at peace because I knew this baby was a part of God’s plan.
The surgery went smoothly for me, but when my baby girl was delivered (full-term at nine pounds) she was not breathing well as noted by her complexion and raspy cry. Fear filled me as I knew something was not right. I released full control of my daughter to God when he sent people to take over control.
When I questioned her coloring and breathing, the next voice I heard was a pediatrician we had not seen in a couple of years. She had been our doctor until she moved to an office much further from our house. Typically, pediatricians wait in the nursery for the baby to be brought in. This doctor, familiar with our name and family, wanted to be present at the birth of our newest addition. She announced her presence and immediately took over. God placed her in that delivery room. He used her to take care of our struggling child. Her calm reassurance was a sign that God was in complete control.
In the hours and days that followed, God proved his presence over and over. Our girl was sent to a NICU across town as I healed from my surgery. I could feel the prayers of comfort and peace from friends and family. Many visited our baby girl, sending me photos and videos until I was released and able to see her.
As I rested at home and visited the NICU in the afternoons, God continued to use extraordinary nurses and doctors to care for our girl, who needed three chest tubes to reinflate her collapsed lungs. When I visited, I could not touch her or talk to her. I could sit and pray, which was all my healing body and the nurses would allow.
Our girl was released from the NICU after eight days. Nothing I did contributed to her healing or medical care. I could only trust the God who brought her into our lives to take control and heal her. I frequently look back on that time when God took full control because I was in a place in my faith where I could release all control. It is difficult trust Him with scary events in our lives, but when you surrender all control, then watch for how God moves and acts, releasing control becomes much easier with every situation.
What does your family devotion time look like?
Last year, when the world was shut down, I knew I did not want to waste these precious moments with my children. As difficult as the time was, I was determined to come away from it having spent extra time pouring spiritual truths into them. I have children that span nine years, but I wanted them all to be involved in our devotion time. This does not happen daily, but I do try to bring our family together several nights per week to read and talk together about who God is, our relationship with Him, and their identity in Christ.
I use a simple devotional, which may seem childish for teens, but learning God’s basic truths are important for any age. We begin with scripture verses. My younger ones each have a Bible with tabs where they can easily find the book, chapter, and verse. My little ones like to use a colorful marker to underline the verse. They get excited when we revisit a verse they have already underlined. Whoever wants to read the verse can read. I like to use different translations for different levels of understanding.
I read the devotional aloud. We talk about how it relates to our daily lives. It was amazing how many connections could be made with our devotions to the events surrounding the quarantine.
A devotional we are using currently is a favorite that we genuinely look forward to. Each devotion is based on science and connects it with God’s power and majesty as Creator. We love to research different science topics we learn about in the passage.
To end our devotional time, we say a prayer aloud or talk about what we are thankful for. I try to keep it very informal to help them feel comfortable in talking to God just like we would talk with one another.
Leah Lively – Author & Speaker
I am all the more grateful for the women (like Leah) who have chosen to join me on this journey of transparency and support – ESPECIALLY in addition to the life adjustments and loads we all experienced in the midst of the last year! I can’t thank you enough.
Connection and support are vital to our growth and survival as humans and as Women. I have met many Mothers (myself included at one point) who are going through the trenches and carrying loads solo. This has often led to depression, loneliness, isolation, and such guilt and shame in “not measuring up”.
My prayer is that the women who lay eyes on “Bold & Brave”, will be encouraged, emboldened, and all the more hopeful.
For the Moms,
This series is for the Moms! In honor of Mothers, this May will be chock-full of real stories of Motherhood from Moms of all ages, in all stages. Join me as I feature different Moms (on a weekly basis) who will so graciously be sharing their life in words.
Missed the previous post? Catch it here. Stay tuned for more stories of triumph, valleys, and faith!