Filling up my Momheart

Two years ago while ill with flu, I stayed in bed and followed the Momheart conference on Twitter (via @SomeGirlTweets). Here I listed all the wonderfully inspirational tweets.

Last year I headed to the doctor’s office instead of the conference hotel, thinking I was going into labor. Fortunately it was a false alarm & I was able to attend Momheart after all (contracting every couple of minutes the whole time). But the 5 mommy tips I gained at last year’s conference I’m STILL using.

momheart conference

This year I sat & enjoyed the inspiration and wisdom of Sally & others without physical discomfort. It was glorious! It would be stingy of me to keep all this hope & encouragement to myself. Here are my “takeaways” from the weekend:

HOPE

1. “Hope is the energy that inspires you to pursue your ideals.”-Sally Clarkson

This quote sums up the feeling I gained from Momheart. Seeing Sally’s grown children pursuing God in various ways, gave me hope to keep pursuing my ideals. Knowing that the daily training & tangible love is worth the effort. Continuing to seek God early in the morning, so I may be filled with patience, joy, kindness, gentleness, self-control which can only come from His Spirit.

FAITH

2.  “If you only live by works, you will live by works the rest of your life. But if you live by faith you will depend on God for the rest of your life.” –Sally Clarkson

Seeing how it wasn’t Sally’s works which produced awesome grown children…it was her faithfulness to pursue her God. It is not my efforts or my works which matters, but my heart thirsting after the One who holds my children’s souls.Praying for wisdom only He can give in helping shape the ones only He can draw to Himself. 

“If I want to be an expert in the hopes & dreams & faith & fears of my children I want to go to the one who breathed life into them & created them. ” -Kat Lee

FREEDOM

3. “Your children are complete according to heaven. View them as fellow beautiful ones.” Sarah Mae

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Sarah shared her personal story of brokenness & how she did not believe God could ever love her because of her faults. She discovered freedom (Gal 5:1) and learned God already saw her as perfect because of Christ’s perfect sacrifice on the cross:

“For by a single offering he has perfected (completed) for all time those who are (being) sanctified.” Hebrews 10:14

In the eyes of all-mighty God you are already perfect…believe it!!

GRACE

4. “You are doing a good job because you are there & you try.” Kat Lee

Oh I’m just going to record this & put it on repeat. Good stuff. She is also known for saying, “You’re a mom. You’re kind of a big deal.”

Despite doing a good job & being a big deal, if there was anything I felt I wanted to work on…being more patient, more organized, less reactive. Kat’s advice was to:

“Make a list of the things you want to work on…put them in order most important…focus on one thing a month.” (Kat Lee)

LOVE

5. “Law created in love provides protection. Law without love is legalism.” Sally Clarkson

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Sally reminded me the importance of not getting my boys to behave because “I say so”. But maintaining a loving, trusting relationship with my children so they desire to listen to instruction. Creating an atmosphere of love. Treating them as I would like to be treated. Be respectful to be respected.

JOY

6. “Bring life to your puzzle.”-Deb Weakly

Deb Weakly is a dear friend of Sally’s. Deb encouraged us the best gift to give our children is a strong marriage. Having come from a home with divorced parents, she spoke with encouragement instead of condemnation.

Since life will always be a hard, bring life & joy to your puzzle (your children, your husband, your circumstances). Whatever challenges are present in your home…embrace them. Remember who you are, do the things you love. Remember why you love your husband…tell him why (she said if you don’t remember why you love your husband…ask God & He will remind you…then write it down!).

“Instead of being negative…lean into your marriage. Think positive thoughts. ‘I’m in this. No matter what.’ Commit your plans to the Lord. He will establish your thoughts. ‘I love Him. This is a bump in the road.'”-Deb Weakly

My prayer is these words will inspire you to keep up the good work in your home. When the days are long & you are weary, remember God sees your faithfulness…it matters.

welcomesign

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The habit I couldn’t establish with willpower alone

Two years ago I signed up for my first Hello Mornings challenge. I started off slowly, waking up only 5 minutes earlier than my boys. Then a few weeks later I moved my wake-up time a little earlier…15 minutes before the boys woke up.  I only lost a few minutes of sleep, but I gained a whole new direction to my day.

Then on Valentines Day 2011, I “celebrated” by going to bed at 7:30 p.m. with a fever, chills and aches. For the next week I was bed-ridden with the flu…awful. (my heart goes out to all the mommas who have been hit by the flu virus this year).

Only a month into the Hello Mornings challenge, the flu bug knocked me off my new routine and I stopped checking in on Twitter.

You know who noticed? My accountability captain, Kat Lee, that’s who. 

katandme

photo credit goes to Kat…since I couldn’t find a pic of us on my computer

Kat, a.k.a. my mom coach**, sent me a sweet direct message checking to see if I was okay and if there was anything she could pray for me. Seriously.

Having the author of “Maximize your Mornings” and creator of www.inspiredtoaction.com contact you personally to see if you needed anything because she noticed you hadn’t been up lately…yeah that will get your bottom back in gear.  

If you’ve ever considered waking up a little before your kids, but haven’t signed up for the challenge because you figured you’d be disciplined enough on your own. Let me tell you, if I had done it on my own I would not have established the habit I have now.

Accountability. Positive peer pressure. Community.

Whatever you want to call it, we need people. We need godly people in our lives to spur us on in this walk. God never intended us to pursue Him alone. He created the world with His Son and the Spirit. From before time began, there was community in the Trinity.

(In case this story scares you from joining HelloMornings…don’t be scared. The challenge is set-up to be self-directed with as much support as you desire. If you stop checking in after two weeks and decide you can’t finish the challenge, no one will force you to continue. But if you desire women to come alongside you and encourage you to keep trying even when you didn’t wake early one morning…than this group is for you.)

God is working all around me. He is not waiting on me to get His work done. I have to decide if I am going to join Him in His work. In order to hear His personal calling on my life, I must meet with Him.

I’d love if you joined me this Winter/Spring in meeting with God. Registration started yesterday and the challenge starts January 28th. May we experience the joy of His presence together! (one of the primary goals I have for us here at God Centered Mom this year!).

**A coach is defined as “a private tutor; one who instructs or trains; instructs players in the fundamentals and directs team strategy.” That’s Kat. You feel like it’s a private tutoring session when you read her posts. She gives you a new strategy to approach motherhood. She encourages moms to stretch themselves to pursue greatness. Because our kids already think we are great, we just need to believe it!  

Kat inspired me to wake up for my children. She encouraged me to spend one-on-one time with my boys. She gave me the idea to have my boys do push-ups when they need some discipline. She introduced to my new favorite meal planning program. Let’s just say she’s pretty much the best mom coach ever!! 

Who do you have in your life to keep you accountable? Have you ever shared a new goal with a friend so she would “hold you” to it? 

Im-Maximizing-My-Mornings-300

Pst, one more thing…wrote more about my Hello Mornings story over at the MOB Society this week. Talking about how to stay one step ahead of our boys (also applicable to girls). 😉

onestepahead

 

5 different women…one clear message

When God has something He wants you to hear, He will speak it loudly and clearly. He had a message for me. In His own special way, He didn’t speak through one messenger. He sent FIVE!

The most awe-inspiring part of this story is how He directed me to ask these 5 women to speak at our Mamas Write Conference. Through various conversations and friendships each chosen by the Spirit’s leading.

Reflecting back on the 9 to 5 Saturday, my jaw drops and my arms raise. Who but God could orchestrate five different women from five different cities to speak a stream-lined message?

As He prepared their power points and videos, He stirred my heart. Two days before the conference I shared with my friend, Eryn Hall, how I was at a crossroads. I needed to go one way or the other in the world of writing. I was hopeful He would speak. As usual, He did not disappoint.

He set the stage with Kat Lee creating folders in my mind. Asking questions about writing motivation. Why do I write?, Who, specifically, am I writing to? How do I go about writing?. Her quotes:

“When we feel overwhelmed it’s because we have forgotten those things (why, who and how).”

“Knowing why matters. A woman running around screaming in a busy downtown festival doesn’t make sense, unless you know it’s because she has lost her son.”

“Do as little as possible, as well as possible.”

Focus. Direction. Remembering why I’m writing.

The next part of His message came from Mandy. She gave me a system to evaluate my out-of-balance life…

“The things that matter most must never be at the mercy of the things that matter least.”

Mandy had us identify our core relationships…starting with GOD AT THE CENTER! Seriously. God in the center (a little reminder of why I started this blog?).

Then a circle around God labeled “Me”. Then around me is a circle labeled “Husband”. Then “Children”. Then “Family/Friends”. Then “Acquaintances”. Finally the farthest circle is “Strangers” (aka most blog readers).

Most of my time/energy/attention should be on the middle circles and move outward. Giving my best to God, my husband and my children. I know this but I don’t live it.

When a good opportunity or activity is presented to me, it needs to pass the “circle test”. Is that “good opportunity or activity” negatively impacting my relationship with God? my husband? my family? Then I shouldn’t add it in.

Mandy said,

“Don’t allow the ‘extras’ to encroach on the middle circles.”

“God takes care of you when you focus on Him.”

“Saying ‘no’ to those things doesn’t feel like a sacrifice when God stays at the center.”

Mandy expanded on my “why” and the focus of my blog…she moved to the focus of my life. Not just on what I think is important, “Stay focused on God then your husband then your children.”

The next woman to deliver God’s message was Debi, mother to 11 children.

She directed me to,

Guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23) and stay focused” (YES AGAIN! She wasn’t even in Mandy’s session).

“Our hearts are like window screens. When we pour the Living Water (God’s Word) through that screen, the water on the other side will be tainted and dirty if the screen (or our hearts) are dirty.”

Further refinement of the message. Stay focused with a pure heart.

THREE women telling me to focus. To focus on God. To keep my heart pure.

Then comes beautiful Amy Lynn Andrews sharing what she has learned in eight years of blogging.

Her message,

“Be YOU! Be Creative! Don’t compare. Don’t fear others. Just DO it! See a hole and fill it.”

“The internet is our tool to fulfill the great commission, to share the good news.”

It was a further revelation of what God would want me to stay focused on…His story!

The final piece of His message came from my passionate (and anointed) friend from San Antonio, Stacy Buck:

“Don’t just write for the thousands who will walk into a Christian bookstore. Write for the millions who never will.”

“Jesus saw the masses and His gut hurt. He knew their problems. He saw their suffering.”

“The harvest is GREAT, but who will He send?”

Not only do I need to stay focused. Stay focused on God. With a pure heart. BUT I should spread the good news to ALL PEOPLE.

I’m continuing to munch and crunch on His message. I’m honestly sitting down with my list of commitments and determining which ones He wants me to “let go” and which require my focus. Pray for me?

Lord, Thank you for these five women. Thank you for their passionate pursuit of You. Thank you for their willingness to share messages outside of their comfort zones. Thank you for giving them Your Words to share. May other women who heard them speak be just as moved to focus on You and Your purpose. Amen.

**There were 3 other amazing women who spoke but I was unable to hear (breakout sessions): Michelle D (SomeGirl); Michelle Acker, and Crystal & Co. Thank you ladies!!!**

the one thing I can’t live without. seriously.

I’ve told you how awesome it is. I’ve told you how out-of-sync I feel when I DON’T do it.

Today I’m sharing how I truly cannot live (the way I want to live) without morning time with God. Since January of 2011 (for 1 1/2 years), I’ve risen early, headed to my leather chair and spent time in worship and His Word. Not because I’m “holier” than you are. Or God loves me more. Or I’m more disciplined. Nope. I do it because I desperately need to.

HelloMornings

It’s a Christian cliché–‘morning devotions’. If you grew up in the church you may roll your eyes or even feel a tinge of guilt when those words (‘morning  devotions’) are uttered. I imagine you saying, “I know, I know. I’m supposed to wake up and pray and read my Bible. But I love sleep. I have 72 young children. I am exhausted all. the. time. I just can’t wake up early. Stop making me feel bad about it. Alright?”

My response is, “That may work for you. But I’ve found I HAVE to get up early. If I don’t my whole life suffers. It is NOT worth those extra 40 minutes of sleep.”

The past couple weeks I have stayed up uber-late watching Olympics, taking care of ministry needs and following Jon Acuff and Jen Hatmaker on Twitter (really important things). When I stay up late the last thing I want to do is get up early (oh and sometimes I have a baby who wants to eat in the middle of the night). 

I didn’t think it would be a big deal. Just a few days of sleeping in. But then it became a habit…the wrong kind of habit.

I left myself open for lies because I wasn’t daily filling with Truth. My cup emptied quickly because I hadn’t filled up with the Living Water. Every where I turned someone else needed a piece of me, but there weren’t even scraps to offer. I cracked. In the drive-thru line of Bubbas after church, I lost it. Like for reals.

When my boys kept asking, “Why are you crying mommy?” I finally responded, “I’m sad.” Then their question, “Why are you sad?” made me stop my mommy tantrum and think.

Why am I sad. What is sooooo important to make me this sad? I realized it wasn’t really an event or problem that “made” me sad. It wasn’t earth shattering life events. It was just normal life. The true problem was how I was reacting to it. I wasn’t handling life well because I was trying to handle it by myself.

I hadn’t been resting in His all-sufficient, mighty hands. I hadn’t been sitting in His presence. I hadn’t seen myself through His eyes, but found my value in how others see me. I had made the temporary important and neglected the eternal.

Realizing how desperately dependent I am on my time with God I’ve made a commitment to my husband, and asked friends for prayer, to rise early. And in that time I will spend more face-to-face time with the One True God, not distracted by social media.

Fortunately my official accountability starts up again August 20th with the fall HelloMornings challenge. Like I’ve told you 20 billion times before Kat Lee changed my life for the better with her Maximize Your Mornings eBook (go read it).

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.” Psalm 5:3

If you have less than 72 children, you feel out-of-control, you need some structure, you feel pulled in 42,000 different directions, then join me in “waking up for your children, not to your children” (Kat Lee) and spending time in His Word. I’ll be checking in using the #hellomornings hashtag on Twitter. If you click on this link–> Fall HelloMornings Challenge, you can sign up for a group in your time zone either on Twitter or Facebook.

What’s keeping you from waking up early to “Meet with Him”? Share in the comments section if you’ve joined over 2,600 women in this Hellomornings Challenge.

*There was a LOT of hyperbole in this post, but that last number (2,600) wasn’t made up. Isn’t God awesome? Will you say a prayer right now for those leading this challenge and the Accountability Captains guiding women? One thing Satan doesn’t want is for 2,600 women to be reading God’s Word every morning and using His Strength to love & guide their families. Thanks.

Few Favorites Friday-September 30th

1. Fine motor activity (pincer grasp):

Yesterday while I was cooking dinner I remembered a fine motor “activity” I had learned back in my early intervention days.  I rinsed out the carton of cottage cheese (from making lasagna), cut a small hole in the lid of the carton, poured some macaroni noodles in a bowl & asked my 2-year-old to put the macaroni in the carton…through the hole.

Because of the size of the noodles it required him to use just his thumb & pointer to grab each one. I probably should have made the hole in the top of the carton a little smaller…then he would have to put the noodle in long-ways and couldn’t just shove the noodle in with his palm.

2. Mommy pep talk

Y’all know how much I love www.inspiredtoaction.com . If you’ve never heard the founder/author, Kat Lee, speak then you should listen to this little “tidbit” from a talk she did for moms a few weeks ago. Even if you HAVE heard her before, this is new content from her experience meeting her mom’s family in the Philippines. It’s about a 3 minute audio clip that will leave you feeling encouraged as a mom…I know it helped me see the importance of my role as a mom.

http://inspiredtoaction.com/2011/09/because-sometimes-reading-encouragement-isnt-enough-we-need-to-hear-it-too/

3. Spontaneous Backyard Carnival Games

This week I was thankful for a creative oldest child. He decided to set up several carnival games in the backyard for his brothers & me to play. Unfortunately, he had several odd rules & a complex scoring system…but all in all it was a nice twist to the traditional & even better that he created the activities.

4. Simple Dinner

In case you missed all my complaining…my husband was on a business trip this week. By God’s mercy his trip was two days shorter than originally expected (see this post: simply obey for more on that).

I decided to try to survive my time parenting alone by simplifying life. One night for dinner we had sliced honeycrisp apples and kettle popcorn while we watched Veggie Tales. It was not a fully balanced meal but it was wonderful!! Thanks Leslie for the great dinner idea.

5. Fancy latte & conversation with a friend

Look at how beautiful this latte is…

It’s from “The Pearl Cup” a coffee shop just down the street from my house. It’s their signature latte made with “pearl milk”, which is sweeter than regular milk. The difference is incredible!

The best part of this gorgeous drink was I was sipping it while sitting across from a friend having great conversation. She shared how God was working in her life. Tears were shed. Laughter expressed. Encouragement given. These are the soul-feeding moments of life and it was a favorite of my week.

What were some of your favorites this week?

Linking up with:  friday favorite things | finding joy

Maximize your Mornings

I can’t tell you enough times what a HUGE difference Kat Lee from Inspired to Action (www.inspiredtoaction.com) has made in my life, in my mothering, in our family, in my friendships, in my marriage…

What has Kat done that is so spectacular?

She introduced me to a new habit and a new concept: Waking up for my children instead of to my children. Designating a time in the morning for just me and God…BEFORE my boys wake up!

Crazy. I know.

Most of you have probably stopped reading at this point. You love sleep. You are exhausted from your day. You can’t imagine losing anymore sleep than you already do. I get it. Remember? I have three boys and I’m pregnant with another child.

Here’s what made things click for me…

My boys sleep about 11 hours at night. I need at least 8 hours of sleep to be a happy mommy. That leaves 3 hours for “me” time. Prior to meeting Kat I would spend that entire 3 hours in the evening…doing the dishes, folding laundry, surfing the web, watching T.V., etc.

After reading her eBook, “Maximize your Mornings”  and doing her Spring and Summer MYM Challenges, I spend 2 hours at night doing those things and 1 hour in the morning: with God in prayer, reading His Word, planning my day & hopefully soon doing some exercise. So I begin the day feeling filled up, instead of waiting until the evening for some “me time”.

I would NOT suggest waking up an hour early right off the bat…BAD IDEA. Kat suggests, and I agree, to start small. Just 5 minutes earlier!! Spend a minute in prayer, read a short piece of Scripture to dwell on throughout the day, look at your calendar for that day, and do a minute of sit-ups or lunges or push-ups. Then the next week push yourself to getting up 15 minutes earlier (she talks you through this process in her free eBook).

Are you convinced yet? Do you need accountability? Then sign up for the next MYM Challenge or “Hello Mornings” Challenge!! 1,200 women have already signed up…amazing!

You can sign up for a group on Twitter (that’s where I’ll be @hmacmomma), Facebook or through email. Join me in maximizing our mornings! See link below for details on signing up (before FRIDAY!!!):

http://inspiredtoaction.com/2011/08/sign-up-now-for-the-fall-session-of-the-maximize-your-mornings-challenge/