When we moved to NC, we had four babies that were 8 weeks to 4 years old. It was a tough transition for me, leaving all of my friends and family and moving into seminary housing. God used another MOPS group to minister to my heart and get me out of a self-absorbed funk I was living in.
This year's MOPS theme is "Plunge Into Motherhood...Loving Earnestly" and the theme verse is
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
After I was asked to speak, I immediately began to remember how those early years can sometimes be so trying. Living in JOY can sometimes be overshadowed by the diapers, the sleeplessness, the potty-training, etc.
Following are the speaking points I used today. As always, I don't write these words as a Mama who has, some how, arrived at the place of perfect motherhood. These words will be donning my OWN fridge as soon as I get them printed. I pray that it will bless you and help you find Joy in the little things. :o)
10. Don’t wash the elephants not meant for TODAY'S parade.
Try not to spend too much time worrying and fretting over decisions that don’t need to be made today. Planning has its place, but we can easily miss little moments because we are fretting about things that have nothing to do with where your child is right now.
9. BELLY LAUGHS are good cardio.
Try not to take yourself or your children too seriously. Kids are FUNNY creatures. It isn’t hard to find ways to laugh with them until your tummy hurts. If you drop a dinner pan or squirt ketchup across the room, let them see you laugh at yourself. It teaches them GRACE and that perfection is not a requirement.
8. Choose your battles WISELY.
Not every behavior you observe in your child needs stern correction. Children are learning with every moment and every interaction, so make sure that you hold firm on the things that will affect them the most and relax some on the behaviors that may just be personality developing or phases that will pass before you know it.
7. Put your CAPE away!
Supermom does not exist outside of the movie or TV screen. Weigh carefully your engagements and responsibilities in and out of your home. If you overload your life, everyone in it suffers. It is okay and even respectable to say “No thank you.” to even the most honorable duties in order to keep a healthy, joy-filled home. Finding balance is KEY!
6. Conquer your evil nemesis: YOURSELF.
Demonstrate GRACE to yourself when you make a mistake. Every Momma has or will have a moment where they are certain they just received the nomination for “Worst Mom of The Year”. Guilt and self-loathing are like pits of quicksand. Our children often demonstrate FAR more grace towards us than we do to ourselves. If you make a mistake that weighs on you, find a way to prevent it happening again and then LET IT GO.
5. Cash your REALITY check.
Sometimes our to-do lists for a single day resemble the space shuttle launch checklist. There are only a certain number of hours in a day and a certain amount of minutes before and after naptime. Being realistic about our plans, our expectations on the children, and our monetary limits will prevent frustration and encourage a peaceful heart & home.
4. Use your WHISPER instead of your WAIL.
When you are tempted to lose your cool and explode, practice reacting in the opposite way. Instead of yelling, whisper your words to your child and watch them react with equal levels of calm. It is 100% effective and 200% less stressful.
3. Every day is a reason to CELEBRATE!
Not every day requires balloons and streamers, but a simple, intentional statement of thankfulness or excitement each day will not only teach your child gratitude, but will cultivate a joyful heart for everyone in your home- even YOU!
2. The Buddy system saves lives.
Don’t think of it as “misery loves company”. Hard days are made easier when you know you aren’t the only Momma going thru little phases with your children, but there is also something very special about celebrating the little milestones of your life with another Momma who completely understands your otherwise unappreciated elation.
1. Make God the center of your home.
Undoubtedly, there is no greater way to live in JOY than to keep God as the center of your home. Our husbands won’t always say the right words at the end of a hard day. Our children will sometimes fall short of our expectations. Even our precious friends will sometimes disappoint. God will never leave you or forsake you and He loves you without fail.