Uncategorized

When God Calls Through Motherhood

MothersDay

God shows Himself through creation

As a child, I marveled at the vastness of the universe, the beauty of sparkling galaxies, the endless expanse of time and space. I was awestruck by tiny things too, like the unique patterns of fingerprints, the mysteries uncovered under a microscope, the miraculous weaving of DNA, and the millions of tiny colored dots that produced a photograph. God revealed Himself in the biggest of the big and the smallest of the small. And then I forgot about Him. Teen years. College years. You know the time.

 God calls through motherhood

Then I became someone’s mommy. Motherhood is truly a miracle in and of itself, from the first butterfly flutters during pregnancy to the gift of a vulnerable young life entrusted to my care, and the responsibility and joy of raising a child in a great big world. It was in this new role that God laid one single question on my heart that I could not shake. “What will I tell my child when she has big questions about life?”

You know they’re coming. Why is the sky blue? Why are kids mean? Why do people get sick? Will I die too? These are questions that everyone asks and I knew that God, the Creator of the universe would be the best source of answers. I surely didn’t have really good ones and I’d read enough books, taken enough classes, and lived enough life to know that even the smartest people on earth didn’t have the best answers. In fact, the smartest people know that they actually know very little.

This was the start of my journey to find an authentic faith—because I was a mommy and my baby deserved the best answers. My journey looked like this…I watched a friend’s life. She seemed to know about Jesus and his teachings, and unlike many religious people, she was doing this unusual thing and living it out every day and serving others so graciously! That was weird enough for me to want to investigate. She shared with me her story of faith. I watched some more. Another friend told me her story which included a tragedy, sadness and abandonment. But still she had an amazingly optimistic view of life despite her history, which she attributed to a personal relationship with Jesus.

I also watched the lives of people who seemed to be sinking in quicksand as they got older. Self-medicating, self-righteous, self-loathing. What was the common denominator? They either didn’t know Jesus—or they hated Him.

Start somewhere

I needed to start somewhere, so I finally decided to find a good Bible and actually read it. I started with the New Testament. As a literature major, and a self-professing intellectual elitist, I had to find the logic in this book. I read Matthew 20:17, where Jesus told his disciples, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” I had very little faith, definitely tiny-as-a-mustard-seed faith, but that was all God needed to reveal Himself to me. Through a serious of providential events, like a teacher giving out the book The Case for Christmas by Lee Strobel, a former atheist turned Christian, and great discipleship in a local church, I was finding the best answers to any question my child could possibly ask. Of course, I was getting answers to questions I too had as a child and I was overjoyed.

 That was nearly thirteen years ago. Today, I have five children who count on me for guidance. I don’t have all the answers, but I know who does and I go to His Word everyday so that I might be equipped to impart true wisdom. I believe that motherhood is often tied up in knots of guilt, worry, lack of control, and just plain old exhaustion. But I also know this verse that truly resonates in my life and I think every mom, new and experienced, can appreciate this— in Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says,“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

It matters for all eternity

Isn’t that just what every mother needs? Rest, both physical and spiritual. Being able to knowingly answer questions about why people are mean, why there is pain and suffering in the world, and where people go when they leave this earth.

Rose Kennedy once said, “Whenever I held my newborn baby in my arms, I used to think that what I said and did to him could have an influence not only on him but on all whom he met, not only for a day or a month or a year, but for all eternity — a very challenging and exciting thought for a mother.”

I think this is on every mom’s heart. I pray for each of you on this Mother’s Day, that you allow God to help you through this challenging and exciting time and that you allow Him to give you rest, knowing that the search for answers need go no further. Happy Mother’s Day! Be Blessable!

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Children, Christianity, Faith, Guam, The Act of Motherhood, Uncategorized

You’re Doing a Great Work, Mom

Nehemiah 6Today, I had the incredible privilege of listening to over a dozen young adults tell their stories in hopes of getting scholarships for college. As expected, some could use work on their communication skills, some did relatively well and others knocked it out of the park.

The one theme that stood out in my mind came from the question, “Who inspires you?” The answer that was given almost every time surprised me. It was “MOM.” These young adults shared their stories of their mothers having taught them to be courageous, diligent, respectful, caring, faithful, humble and to serve. I was touched to watch each person choke out sweet words about their moms over and over again.

It made me think of my role as a mom. I am encouraged to look further than tomorrow or next week. I’m inspired to remain diligent in the task at hand.

In the Old Testament, Nehemiah left his post as a servant to King Artaxerxes. God had revealed to him that he should go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the surrounding wall to protect the city. He obeyed. While he was focused on carrying out the mission, the enemies wanted to get him to stop. They tried to distract him, calling him down from the wall. No matter what, Nehemiah stayed focused. He stayed on that wall and hollered down, “I’m doing a great work; I can’t come down.”

Moms, we are doing something meaningful. You may not be feelin’ it today, but you’ll be surprised how many little eyes and ears are picking up meaningful lessons along the way and finding their deepest inspiration in YOU! Despite the distractions and responsibilities pulling this way and that, stay on the wall and do your great work! #motherhoodmatters

Adventure, Uncategorized

I’m Moving Back In:)

Vintage Typewriter

The great thing about life is that you can forge a path forward through new adventures and, sometimes, you can choose to go back. Here I am, back at my original blog for a couple of reasons.

  1. It’s free!
  2. It’s easy to use.
  3. I just need a place to record thoughts that live on in perpetuity so that my great-great-great grand kids can find a little bit of themselves in this tiny space on the inter webs.

Ahhh! It’s good to be back!

 

Big Families, BTW, Have You Seen My Head?, Children, Guam, Productivity, Self-Improvement, Uncategorized

6 Parenting Lessons I Learned from Running a Restaurant

My kiddies getting homework done at the restaurant.
My kiddies getting homework done at the restaurant.

Forks clanking against white porcelain plates. Small giggles and hearty laughs amidst the steady hum of conversation and the rich smells of grilled steaks and steaming soups. This was my life for a while as I assisted managing our family-owned, downtown restaurant.

It was an exciting but difficult time because of the inevitable juggling that had to take place. Five kids and a busy husband on the one hand and a busy restaurant on the other. We eventually resolved to sell the business, but while we were hustling, I learned some key life lessons that have kicked up my parenting abilities a couple of notches. Maybe you will find them helpful too.

1. Write things down. Schedules, manuals, recipes, menus, signage–everything needed to be written out and made clear to all. This is so true in all areas of life. When we don’t write things down, they simply fall through the cracks. Things get left on life’s back burners, never to be moved to prime “get ‘er done” real estate. Do you keep a family calendar? Do you write out your goals and specific steps that you’ll take to reach them? Write it down, get it done!

2. Accountability. Until there was a designated staff member in the restaurant scheduled to clean the bathrooms at regular intervals, things would get pretty icky. If there wasn’t a log specifying who’d be cleaning out the chillers or the espresso machine, it wouldn’t get done.

Accountability is just as vital at home. That oh-so-useful chore chart is key here. It sets up the expectation and gives me a “fall guy” should the dog not get fed on time or the dishes not get put away. (Since we can’t fire our children, consider “docking their pay” which can translate to canceling the next planned trip to Yogurtland:-)

3. Murphy’s Law is universal, so expect the unexpected. The old adage, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong,” takes on a whole new meaning in a restaurant. An oven will break down just before a busy Friday dinner service. The credit card machine will malfunction just as a waiter processes 25 Naval officers on a quick lunch meeting–all paying separately. We need to have back-up plans and expect the unexpected.

Similarly, a child will have a tummy ache on the day Mommy is supposed to attend a big conference. The washing machine will die out when there are eight backlogged loads of laundry. Bottom line is, expect the unexpected and have a back up plan. A go-to sitter, a Whirlpool repair guy on speed dial. And sometimes, just a little margin in life so that when these crazy things creep up, we aren’t strung so tight that one little thing snaps us.

4. Own up to Mistakes.  A customer’s steak might be well-done when they swear they said rare. A chef might forget to put the coveted avocado in the sushi. A piece of cork might be floating in the glass of Merlot. It happens. Own up to it and work toward remedies for the situation. A genuine apology, a complementary dessert and even removing the item from the ticket might be necessary.

Parents, we might not like to admit it, but we are really good at making mistakes. We need to get better about humbling ourselves and asking for forgiveness. The customer at the restaurant might tweet something about a messed up order, but a child stores up all the little wrongs in their hearts when there isn’t a remedy to the mistake. Whether it’s a harsh word for spilled milk or not noticing your daughter’s first goal in the soccer game because you were on Facebook, they see our mistakes. We need to own up and apologize because it’s the right thing to do.

5. Get out of “the weeds.” Have you ever seen a waiter start fumbling orders, disappear on tables or auction off food because he didn’t remember who ordered what? That’s called being “in the weeds” and it is hard to get out.

Usually, the most effective way to rectify the situation is to have a manager or another waiter help out so that he can gain composure, get organized and get back in the game if you will.

A lot of times as parents, we find we are in the weeds too. We are overwhelmed by the stuff of life like home renovations, behavioral issues with kids, deadlines at work. It might get hard to see the reason we do it all when our we can’t see above the weeds. God never meant for us to go it alone. A spouse, family, friends, church community–there are so many people who can help us get out of the weeds. If we don’t reach out and we choose to loiter in those weeds, there are no happy customers.

6. Setting up for success. One of my most experienced chefs had years of experience working on cruise ships. He brought with him the phrase, “Set up for success.” He always made sure that nightly clean-up was done and that all necessary items were prepped for the opening shift. Sauces were made, veggies were chopped, and a list of required items to shop for was written and hung on a clipboard.

When I leave dishes in the sink, clutter on the dining table or miscellaneous laundry strewn about, I know I am not setting myself up for success. In fact, it usually means that I will wake up already in the weeds! I have to remind myself every night to complete the necessary tasks that my “future self” will thank me for in the morning.

Are you translating work skills into your home? If you’re not, what are some ways your work habits and skills could improve life at home? I’d love to hear your ideas.

PS Enjoy the FREE printable chore chart and help yourself stay out of the weeds:-)

Christianity, Diet, Food, Health, Ranting & Raving About Island Living, Self-Improvement, Uncategorized

The Thief’s Purpose is to Steal, Kill & Destroy–Even with a Donut

When I first read 1 Corinthians 6:19, I really had a feeling of conviction. The verse reads, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” I knew how important my mind and heart were to my spiritual life, but my actual, physical body? I would say I was getting a C- at best in this area. I was definitely not honoring God by being such a slacker in this area.

In Sheri Rose Shepherd’s book Fit for My King, she mentions a verse in the chapter titled “God’s Temple or Our Trash Can.” John 10:10 says, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” Wow! Okay, maybe I’ve watched too many food documentaries, or maybe as I walked down an aisle filled with shiny, foil-covered potato chips and preservative-laden cookies, but this verse really hit home. This “thief” will use any way possible to crumble a person, a community, and even a whole country. Yes, we are a fast food, sugar-addicted, white bread, white rice, soda-drinking country! Satan steals our self-worth, our self-image, and our motivation to do big and great things for God when we are mired down in an unhealthy body.

Sheri Rose Shepherd
Sheri Rose Shepherd

So I had to man up–okay “woman up!” Was I going to let the thief win? Will I be a slave to a donut?!?  Uh, NO! 2 Timothy 2:21 says, “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” I am clinging to this promise. Yes, for some, the “dishonorable” thing might be stealing, adultery, lying, blasphemy…and for some, it might be that dishonorable dish of ice cream that is actually three portions and not one. They are all bad.

As of today, I have almost lost 10lbs in two weeks of my Medifast diet and almost one week of vacation in the Philippines. (Aside, that was a little challenging as there are many delicious food options and we were on vacation. I surprised myself with my resolve and did well with portions and eating clean despite the occasional temptation).

Praise God for His promises!

Uncategorized

I Said ‘Goodbye” to Bread AND Extra Weight

If you are a woman living on Guam, you probably have the same
3PM craving. Mr. Brown and something carb-loaded or an ice white mocha and a cupcake from the very awesome coffee shop on Marine Corp Dr. I was guilty of giving in to my every craving for something sweet, baked or bready. In short, I’m a typical woman on Guam.

So, as I mentioned in my last post, I decided to commit to the rather strict Medifast diet. I had done a good deal of research before I made the decision. I was thoroughly impressed by results I had seen from family members. So on February 20, 2014, I changed everything about the way I eat to lose the “baby fat” from all five of my darlings.

The first three days I had a pretty bad headache, which I read is typical. I’m not sure if it’s carb withdrawal or that I was eating about half the normal calories I’m used to. I had to adjust to the taste of the food which was surprisingly easy. It definitely isn’t Guam-style food, but it really isn’t bad. I especially like having the “Fat Burning Cappucino” in the morning!

So I made it to the end of Week 1 with a 6lb weight loss! Yes! I am now five days into Week 2 and I can feel the waist bands on my jeans starting to fit better (as opposed to cutting into my waist:-) It’s a great feeling!

Now, I won’t say that I haven’t had any temptations at all. One trip to Submarina to buy sandwiches for co-workers was hard–no, AGONIZING! Toasted Squaw bread! Ugh!!! Also, we had dinner at Lone Star and those tasty little rounds of bread were a test of will power. I prevailed! I like prevailing! I have enjoyed being creative with ‘Lean & Green’ meals and have been learning many ways to prepared clean food that will be extremely helpful when the diet is done.

So, many people have asked this question, “What happens when you’re done with the diet?” Medifast provides a weaning process and a maintenance plan so I feel pretty comfortable with that part of the diet. Also, I’ve seen several people keep the weight off which is a great testimony. I often remind my kids that focusing on what-ifs, fear, and looking to your left and right can really bog them. I don’t waste time with other people’s nay-saying. I look to the goal and forge ahead! See you at the end of Week 2.