Two Songs: When God Speaks Through the Mundane

He climbed up into his big boy bed – a new, unfamiliar, but also exciting place for him. The sheets had trains and there were no bars holding him in. The freedom was fun, but I could sense his uneasiness as we tucked him for his first night on that wooden captain’s bed. All seemed fine until, just seconds, after we closed the door, the crying began.

“I scared,” he said. These were words I had never heard from his less than two-year-old mouth, but I wasn’t totally surprised. Growing up and trying new things can be scary.

As I tried to calm him, he suddenly asked, “Mommy sing?” This former music teacher’s heart skipped a beat at the sweetness of his request. I always wanted to be the mom who sang her children sweet lullabies before bed. And I did when they were babies, but the older two boys didn’t seem to need or want the signing as part of their bedtime routine. I was thrilled to comply with his desire for a bedtime song from Mommy.

I started with the song that was playing right after he was born, “How He Loves Us” by David Crowder. That became the song he wanted every night. Until Frozen came out. Then, you guessed it, “Let It Go” was requested on repeat. And then came the night where he asked for both songs. Convinced it was a stalling tactic, I sang the chorus of each and called it good.

A chorus of “Let It Go,” the chorus and bridge of “How He Loves Us” – that became our routine every night. After a while, the sweetness of it wore off for me. I began to see singing these two songs as mundane, ordinary, even tedious and annoying.

But after a long day of kid-wrangling and house-cleaning and food/clothing/homeschool battles, I melted into that wooden rocking chair in the corner of his room at 7:30pm as usual. As I started to sing, tears fell and I felt like the Lord was making me hyper-aware of the words I was singing. The words I had sung dozens of times. They were speaking to me in that dark nursery.

Two Songs

The annoying routine suddenly became a sweet message from the Lord…

Let go of the hard stuff from the day. Give it to Me and shut the door on all of it. There are no grudges to be held. No pity parties to be thrown. Just let it go.

And do you know how much I love you? No, do you REALLY know? Even if you lost it with the kids or forgot to change the laundry or burnt dinner…I’m still head-over-heels for you, My child. You don’t have time to keep thinking about all that crummy stuff from the day because I love you and want you to move forward in that love!

I barely made it through my two-chorus standard that night as I choked back sobs. These two songs weren’t picked by my son. They were picked by my Jesus to speak to me just when I need it most – as the day ends and the perceived failures of the day pile heavy on my shoulders. He cared enough to speak through those moments I thought were just a means to getting my son to sleep.

Two songs. Songs I gladly sing now when he asks. Songs I can still barely make it through without the tears flowing because He speaks freshly these reminders into my heart every time.

Let it go and remember how much I love you.

 

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Spiritual Mothers + Messengers

I knew there was a reason I wasn’t able to write about the #SheSharesTruth topic of spiritual mothering yet. It’s because what He had on my heart for it was just perfectly in line with the Five Minute Friday word: messenger. So I’m combining the two…

It’s Five Minute Friday with lovely Lisa-Jo!

Set a timer and just write. Don’t worry about making it just right or not.

For me? An exercise in letting go and letting words flow. Five minutes only. {yes, I do set a timer and it quacks like a duck at 5 minutes, which totally makes me smile}

Today’s prompt: Messenger

And the #SheSharesTruth topic…

How is spiritual mothering already taking place in your community? Has a godly woman influenced you in your growth in the Gospel, or has mentoring a young believer impacted your life? How would you like to see Titus 2 shape your relationships moving forward?

*****

And go…

These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. ~Titus 2:4-5

The call in Titus 2 to us as women is very clear. Older women are to teach the younger women, and not just older as in years, but further along the path, if even just by a little bit.

I have seen so many women floundering with no one leading or encouraging them in the ways of Christian womanhood. And I’ve heard lots of excuses from women why they aren’t being these mentors to younger women: work, too busy, not “good enough,” nobody wants to hear from me. Yes, they do, and knowing and experiencing all this makes me want to be a spiritual mother even more when the time is right.

Spiritual Mothers

We need messengers, ladies. Women who aren’t there just to say, “Cherish this time.” We need honest messengers of hope and Truth, women who have raised families well in the name of the Lord, not perfectly, but with His grace. Women who know the struggles of the daily motherhood grind and looked to the Lord to sustain them.

My heart is burdened to tell the next generation of women and moms that it is all worth it, but it is NOT easy and that is all the more reason we need Jesus. I love all the things Titus mentions – marriage and home and family – but I could not do a single one without the Spirit guiding me and giving me fresh strength when I’m all out.

I’m grateful for the honest spiritual mothers that have brought these messages to me – not sugarcoated with “You can do it!”, but rather messages full of understanding and the reminder to always look to Jesus to guide me and get me through one day at a time.

Wherever you are in your journey, FIND those messengers and BE those messengers, sisters. Spiritual mothering is a holy call.

Stop.

*****

Read the beautiful words of my fellow writers over at Five Minute Friday and She Reads Truth today!

How has spiritual mothering been important to you? If you don’t have a spiritual mother, what would you hope to gain from one?

 

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#SheSharesTruth: The End of Nehemiah

I just finished reading the book of Nehemiah. Scratch that. I’ve read the book of Nehemiah before. It wasn’t very memorable. This time I studied it. 17 days of in-depth slow reading, study note devouring, journaling, praying. It won’t be a book I soon forget now.

The Nehemiah study was from She Reads Truth and the lessons I learned from it were numerous. Lessons on prayer and faith and leadership and boldness. But I’m going to start at the end today.

shesharestruth

A little back story of Nehemiah before I get to the end in case you’re unfamiliar {spoiler alert!}:

Nehemiah was working as the king’s cup bearer in Babylon when he heard the wall protecting Jerusalem had been destroyed and his people were unprotected. After much prayer, Nehemiah asks the king’s permission to go rebuild the wall. The king grants his request and Nehemiah heads back to Jerusalem for 12 years to head up the wall rebuilding project. He is a wise, God-fearing leader and, with his direction, the people of Jerusalem are once again protected. They rededicate themselves and their holy city to God.

But then…

Nehemiah leaves to go back to his duties with the king and the people backslide. They start intermarrying with pagans, breaking the commandments laid out by God, living in disobedience. The book of Nehemiah ends with him rebuking many in Jerusalem for breaking the covenant they JUST renewed.

Not the happy ending I was expecting and not the results Nehemiah had prayed for either.

So here is today’s question: Why does the book of Nehemiah end the way it does? What does God want us to see here about Himself and the Church?

During my reading of Nehemiah, God was speaking to me about my “building project” – my family. Day after day, the words in Nehemiah were convicting, inspiring, encouraging to me as a wife and mother. So in this ending, I saw another lesson for me as a mother.

Nehemiah did everything God asked him to do. He was in constant prayer. He was one of the wisest leaders in all of the Bible. And still the people fell away from their renewed commitment of faith.

I am not a perfect mother or wife or homemaker, but even if I follow everything God asks me to do, pray all day long and wisely steward the time and resources of our family, I can’t control the outcome. My children have free will. They are sinners just like me. My faithfulness and wise leadership don’t guarantee their obedience.

This might be a discouraging lesson, but I think it is also meant to take some of the pressure off for me as a mom. Nehemiah has taught me to pray, trust, and act on God’s will and leave the rest in His hands. Just like Nehemiah, I can only do what I can do. The bad choices of those under my leadership, including my kiddos, does not make me a failure.

Breathe that in, ladies. We are not failures because of our children’s choices.

Nehemiah went through a similar process to mothering: years of caring for the people, building up the wall to protect them, praying fervently, and then the big letdown of their disobedience. But in his wisdom, Nehemiah continued to stand for what is right and pray to his Heavenly Father.

Why does Nehemiah end with this big bummer? To remind me to keep on seeking His will, doing the next right thing, and praying hard for those in my care, no matter what those around me choose. And I will never give up on that. I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.

Nehemiah 63

 

I’m linking up with the #shesharestruth community today – read the thoughts of other women on this ending of Nehemiah over at the She Reads Truth site!

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Moms’ Night Out: Movie + Book!

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

The first time I watched Moms’ Night Out, I was sitting on my bed with a special preview screening playing on my iPad. The kids were in the bed, The Hubby was on call, and it was just me and a movie I found to be telling MY story. I laughed so loud I woke our oldest son up and I cried tons of tears as the story unfolded and reminded me of the important things in life.

The weird thing is I also took notes. Yep. I watched the movie with a pen and paper because I kept hearing quotes I loved and I didn’t want to forget them! This was all before I know Moms’ Night Out was being made in to a book, too! And not just any book – a novelization of the movie written by my author friend, Tricia Goyer!

MNO Book

I have the book in hands now and I’m thankful because now I can underline those quotes and keep them close by at all times! There are many more reasons to love having Moms’ Night Out in book form, but if you don’t know the story yet, let’s start there…

Moms’ Night Out is a novelization of the hilarious family comedy that celebrates real family life—where everything can go wrong and still turn out all right.

All Allyson and her friends want is a peaceful, grown-up evening of dinner and conversation . . . a long-needed moms’ night out. But in order to enjoy high heels, adult conversation and food not served in a bag, they need their husbands to watch the kids for a few hours-what could go wrong?

Chronicling one night out gone awry, three harried moms, their husbands, a sister-in-law with a misplaced baby, a tattoo parlor owner, a motorcycle gang, and a bewildered cabbie all learn to embrace the beautiful mess called parenting. This book spotlights the unfulfilled expectations and serial self-doubts many moms feel . . . then reassures us that the key is raising kids in a loving home. Mom’s Night Out is an endearing, true-to-life comedy.
I went to see Moms’ Night Out a second time with my mom and sister on Mother’s Day. I think I liked it even more and I left the theater anxious for it to come out on DVD. Instead of waiting for that day, I’ve really enjoyed following the story on a page and replaying it that way! There is just something about a book that can bring new levels of meaning to certain story lines, and that’s just what Tricia did in this novelization. The details, the descriptions, the characters’ thoughts – all so beautifully written!
So about those favorite lines that showed up in both the movie AND book?
“I am like the Bruce Banner of stay-at-home moms. He doesn’t want to turn into the Hulk. It just happens. One minute I’m a normal person. The next minute the large, green monster grows inside me, bursting out in every direction. I grow and transform into something unrecognizable. scary even.”
Any moms out there relate with THAT one? I’m not proud of it, but I do and I know it was good for me to see it expressed by someone else.
“I’m trying to make myself get up – to clean – but nothing’s happening. I’m stress paralyzed.”
I’ve been saying this is a thing for years!
And my favorite from the whole thing…
“I doubt the Good Lord made a mistake giving your kiddos the mama He did. So just be…you. He’ll take care of the rest.”
Isn’t that just exactly what every single mom needs to hear at least once in her life? This is why Moms’ Night Out is a home run in my book – it gives moms a chance to see they are not alone in their sometimes crazy thoughts, it makes us laugh a LOT, and it delivers the message that we are right where we are supposed to be and we are enough because of Him.
Tricia’s novelization of the movie is such fun because it also dives into the thoughts of each character that can’t be portrayed fully on screen . This is where the book catches me, telling the story I already loved, but filling in with even more depth and heart. If you loved the movie, make sure you grab Moms’ Night Out by Tricia Goyer to experience it with a fresh voice!
And there is one more gem to go along with Moms’ Night Out: a devotional by Christian comedian Kerri Pomarolli called Moms’ Night Out and Other Things I Miss. Check out this trailer for it…

 

Tricia and Kerri have teamed up for the “No More Frumpy Mommy” challenge.

Moms Night Out Tricia Goyer Kerri Pomarolli

Motherhood can sometimes seem like survival of the fittest. Every day brings its own troubles, and by the end of the day, you’re spent. Between school, soccer practice, cleaning, laundry, cooking dinner, putting away dishes, and keeping your kids from going at each others’ throats, the last thing on your mind is getting away for an evening. If that’s you, you’re invited to take part in Tricia and Kerri’s No More Frumpy Mommy challenge.
 
Tricia and Kerri will choose 10 winners to receive a Fandango gift card to see Moms’ Night Out, as well as copies of Moms’ Night Out (the book) and Moms’ Night Out and Other Things I Miss. One grand-prize winner will receive $200 to put toward her own moms’ night out or her own moms’ night out “ride” (getting her car detailed and cleaned).
 

Have you seen Moms’ Night Out? Read the book? What were your favorite parts?

I received these books to review. I was not compensated in any way for this post and all opinions are 100% my own.
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The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle Sale!

How does $698 worth of amazing ebooks on the topics of motherhood, homemaking, faith, marriage, homeschool, health + wellness, financial stewardship, pregnancy, holidays, self-care, working from home, and more for just $29.97 sound to you?!

And how about $200 worth of bonus products, memberships, and store credits FREE in addition to those 78 ebooks for just $29.97?

You are going to LOVE the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle Sale that starts today and you only have SIX DAYS to snag this fabulous deal!

The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle offers ebooks on some of my favorite topics from some of my very favorite authors!  Some of my favorites include:

  • The Warrior Weekend by Pat Schwenk: This fabulous ebook is a weekend retreat guide for fathers teaching their sons how to be Godly men. Included in the guide are stories, activities, and applications for real life – a great bonding experience for dads and their boys!
  • The Weekly Homeschool Planner by Jolanthe Erb AND The Simple Homeschool Planner by Tsh Oxenreider: I’ve used elements of both of these planners and think at least one of them will be exactly what you are looking for to plan your homeschool days, weeks, months, and the whole year!
  • 21 Days to a More Discipline Life by Crystal Paine: I LOVED going through this 21-day plan for leading a more disciplined life. Crystal makes the steps very doable but they also stretched me to think beyond my current haphazard plan towards a more organized, productive life!
  • Real Food on a Real Budget by Stephanie Langford: We are a household of always-hungry boys {and parents} trying to eat well and stay on budget, which can be hard with the cost of healthy food! Stephanie has great tips and suggestions for making healthy eating more affordable for any family!
  • Write Through the Bible by Trisha Gilkerson: The Gilkersons have a wonderful series of Write Through the Bible printables to help your children practice handwriting AND learn Scripture at the same time.
  • 76 Free Things to Do With Kids: A Real Mom’s Guide by Shannon Brown: Every mom loves free activities to do with their kids! This is a great resource to have going into the summer months!
  • Discipleship & Discipline: Practical Parenting Help for the Desperate Mom {ecourse} by Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae: This course alone is worth the $29.97. The wisdom and grace these women share for moms is so inspiring and encouraging. Every mom should participate in this ecourse.


So how do you get these AMAZING books plus many, many more?!

First of all, this bundle is only available for SIX DAYS: 8am EST Wednesday, April 23 until midnight EST Monday, April 28. After those six days, you will not be able to purchase this particular bundle ever again!

The bundle is available in two formats: PDF only for $29.97 and PDF + Kindle for $39.97. To learn more about which bundle would be better for you and any other questions you might have, please visit the FAQ page!

Special deal just for Home with the Boys readers!

TODAY ONLY {4/23/14}, if you share this post about the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle on social media, you are entered in a giveaway for a free bundle – either to keep for yourself or give to a friend! To enter, just use the Rafflecopter below! Winner will be announced + emailed Thursday morning so everyone else will have time to purchase! If you decide to purchase today AND enter, I will refund the price of your bundle if you win OR you can give the free bundle to a friend!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope you love this bundle as much as I do! Happy reading!

 

  • For any questions regarding the bundle, including how to download and read your ebooks, check this FAQ page.
  • For all of the fine print on this bundle, please visit here.
  • For more about the wonderful couples who put together these fun bundles, visit here!
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Life-Giver {and a KraftyKash Sale!}

life-giving: imparting, or having the ability to impart, life or vitality

God built into all of us as women the ability to give life. When we talk about this in relation to motherhood, thoughts of pregnancy and childbirth come to mind. But the role of a woman as a life-giver goes far beyond those moments of waiting and labor, and most of the time, the life-giving has nothing to do with the physical act of birth at all. In the Five Aspects of Women, Barbara Mouser says:

“All of us are lifegivers. We have a created capacity in our bodies and in our spirits to give life, to nurture, to heal, to comfort, to encourage, to make things alive. Motherhood is important, but it is not the sum total of lifegiving.”

I wrote about the life-giving aspect of women in a series several years ago and all of that still resonates deeply within me, maybe even more so this year as I am focusing on vitality. Not only do I want more life in my days for myself, I want to spread and speak more life to those around me.

Give life. Speak life. That’s the kind of mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend I want to be.

Let’s celebrate the life-giving ability of all women this Mother’s Day.

Life Givers

This gorgeous new leather dictionary cuff from KraftyKash is serving as my reminder that, when filled up with by the Holy Spirit, I can be a giver of life to those around me, especially my family, by the way I speak, act, serve, and love. I can’t believe she was able to find my word, but I also can because God makes things work just like that, doesn’t He?!

Life Giver Close

I love this cuff because it has meaning, but also because the leather and snaps are tough enough to stand up to life as a boy mom and the accents are very feminine! It is also has two snaps to make it adjustable for any wrist size! But the very best part about the work of Kashoan at KraftyKash is the personalization. You can choose just about any word that has great significance to you or the person you are giving it to and she will find it if it is out there!

This would be the PERFECT unique Mother’s Day present! And with that in mind, the vintage dictionary leather cuff, normally $30, is on sale for just $25 PLUS free shipping in the United States when you use the code homewiththeboys at checkout now through April 23, 2014! Go! Order one or two or ten now!

Who has been the biggest life-giver in your life? What word would you order for that person?

 

Thank you to Kashoan at KraftyKash for this beautiful cuff bracelet to review and the sale to share with you! I was not compensated in any way for this post and all opinions are 100% my own!

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A Mom’s Guide to Better Sleep

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a hard time falling asleep. I would lay in my corner room with the pink and blue heart wallpaper in our home on the corner of the block and listen to the wind blow through our huge evergreen tree, cars driving by, people out for a night walk. I wasn’t usually scared, but I was a worrier and that manifested itself mostly at night. I can’t even really remember what I worried about back then, but this difficulty falling asleep carried through to adulthood.

Once I became a mother, I found myself exhausted enough that I was falling asleep fairly soon after my head hit the pillow, but now I wasn’t sleeping very soundly. Mothers hear every little noise in the night, don’t we? And although I don’t worry too much before I fall asleep these days, if I’m awakened in the night, I do have a hard time drifting back to dreamland.

I had a startling revelation when I got my FitBit for Christmas. This device is worn on my wrist all the time and tracks my level of activity throughout the day. It also tracks my level of restlessness during the night. I don’t have a newborn or even a nursing baby anymore, but I was shocked by how restless my sleep was and by how often I wake in the night. No wonder I’m so tired during the day!

Armed with this information, I’ve been on a mission to get better sleep at night and I’m sure some of you are searching for similar relief! Here are some of the most important things that have led to a better night’s sleep for me…

Mom's Guide to Better Sleep

1. Stretch before bed

We carry a lot of tension with us throughout the day – lifting and carrying children, scrubbing, picking up, all kinds of work and the stress that comes with it leave us tense as we wind down our day. I’ve found a little stretching or foam rolling before bed helps my body relax and power down. I started using a foam roller after I started running and it feels like a deep tissue massage for my hamstrings, back, calves, and so on. Like a massage, it can hurt to get the muscles worked on, but afterwards, I find everything much looser. The slow movements of stretching and rolling also have the added benefit of being very calming.

2. Wash your face

I do a terrible job of remembering to do this on a regular basis, but when I do wash my face with warm water before bed, it helps wash off the things that have collected during the day and leave me feeling clean and refreshed as I lay down.

3. Read

There is just something about reading that gets me in the right frame of mind for sleep Well, except when I get all wrapped up in a an awesome fiction book I can’t put down and it is part of series and I stay up reading until 1:00 a.m… {I’m looking at you, Lisa T. Bergren} Most of the time, I try to read one chapter of a good, uplifting book before bed and that is just right.

4. Clear your mind

When I couldn’t fall asleep as a girl, I would often start praying about whatever was worrying me and then drift off in the middle of praying. Doing something to clear your mind will help keep you from staying awake with your thoughts. Praying is perfect when worry, fear, or anxiety keep you up. I’m also a brainstormer, so I’m often up with all sorts of dreams, plans, and goals swirling in my mind. I keep a notebook by the side of my bed to make to-do lists with things I’m afraid I will forget or to jot down ideas that pop into my head, such as writing topics. I also keep my Joy Dare journal in my nightstand to jot down a few gifts from the day to end on a high note!

5. Essential oils

If this hadn’t worked for me, I wouldn’t be sharing it with you right now. We’ve started using essential oils in our home and my friend Brooke recommended spreading a little lavender on my pillow before bed to help me sleep more soundly. And it totally did. I saw a noticeable decrease in the amount of restless and awake time on my Fitbit even the first night. And then I tried the Serenity blend from doTERRA and WHOA. I slept the same amount of time I normally sleep that first night I used Serenity but I slept so well and woke up feeling very rested. While I love lavender for all sorts of things, I love the smell and calming effects of Serenity even more. You may need to experiment to see what essential oil is the most calming for you! To find out more about the oils I use and recommend, visit my essential oils page and please feel free to contact me with any questions!

I still get woken up in the night by this child or that child on occasion, but overall my quality of sleep has improved immensely since implementing these few aspects into my nighttime routine. I kick myself when I leave one out and wind up feeling exhausted the next day…or maybe that was because of that great book again…

What helps you sleep better at night?

 

Disclosure: I am a doTERRA Wellness Advocate and receive commissions and/or bonuses from doTERRA. I am not a medical professional. The statements and suggestions given here have not been evaluated by the FDA. I am simply sharing ideas and suggestions on how to use essential oils in everyday life. I assume no liability for the way you choose to use essential oils. Use your good judgement and act responsibly!
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Found: An Interview with Micha Boyett {Part 2}

Here is part two of my fascinating interview with Micha Boyett, author of Found: A Story of Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer, releasing next week!

Before you read below, check out my thoughts on this fabulous book and part one of our interview, including more about how Micha discovered the Benedictine way.

foundcoverE: You are the mother to TWO boys now. How has your journey of prayer + motherhood continued or changed with a second child in the house?

Micha: Having a second kid magnified the intensity of motherhood for me: More love. More stress. More anxiety. More insecurity.

I have a friend who says she never really felt like a grown up until she had her second baby. I totally get that. Having one child is hard, but you can still feel capable of giving yourself fully to your child. There’s this moment after your second child is born when both are crying and you have to choose which one you will comfort. And you realize this is a metaphor for life from now on!

I have had to learn that I am not enough for my kids. And I’ve had to learn to trust God with my own inabilities as a mom. I cannot hold both my children at the same time. And the older they get, the more I realize that I cannot always rescue them. I have to trust that God’s grace fills in the gaps.

That sort of growing up has reverberated out into my prayer life. More is demanded of me. Therefore, I have to be more protective of the kind of mom I’m going to be for my kids. The changes have really been pretty simple. I go to bed earlier now. I expect less of myself. I allow myself to get the sleep I need. And then I wake up really early so I can pray. Waking up early to pray is much easier when you’re not up all hours of the night trying to be a super hero.

And when I don’t wake up early and I don’t spend time in prayer, I actually believe that God continues to love me, that God is still here with me, that I’m still being remade, even though I didn’t live up to some spiritual ideal. That’s the biggest change that has happened for me. I learned to extend God’s grace to myself and, through that, to my kids.

 

E: Do you include your husband or children in the Benedictine prayers?

Micha: The Benedictine monks and nuns mostly emphasize the Psalms during their daily prayers. (Modern-day monks usually pray through the entire book of Psalms every two weeks.) They also practice a kind of prayer called Lectio Divina, in which you read through scripture in a slower, less intellectual, more heart-driven way. There are a couple of scenes in the book where I pray using Lectio Divina.

I still practice Lectio Divina. I’ve just begun meeting with a group of friends (other moms) once a month for Lectio. And I still use the Psalms in my prayer life, though I don’t have a specific schedule of Psalms like I did in my story.

I love to emphasize the Psalms with my kids, especially my oldest, who really feels things deeply the way I do. I discovered a beautiful children’s book of Psalms—Psalms for Young Children. It emphasizes the whole gamut of emotions in the Psalms in a tender, gentle way that my kids really get. So we read through them when they’re feeling worried or sad.

But more than how I include my husband or my kids in the way I pray, I think the bigger change St. Benedict’s Rule has made in my life will be through my character, my sense of peace. I’m much more at ease with the “ordinariness” of this season of my life. I’m at peace with how I use my time and how God loves me. And I think my boys and my husband experience that on a daily basis. I’m a different mom than I was three years ago, because the Benedictines helped me learn to believe that God’s is finding me, restoring me, here, right now. That has really changed everything.

F176576857

E: In the book, you say, “My life has value because God has touched every mundane moment with the glow of holiness.” How do you remember to find that holiness in the mundane?

Micha: Some days I remember to look for it and some days I don’t. In the book I talk about “paying attention” and I really believe that gratitude is the beginning and ending of that process of noticing God in my ordinary life. On the days when I feel like a failure as a mom, or a friend, or a follower of Jesus, I’m learning to start back in the most basic place: gratitude. Even if I don’t know how to pray, I know how to thank God for my three-year-old’s laugh or for pieces of avocado on my slice of toast. And as soon as begin attributing the good in my life to God, I begin to see the holiness of my life again.

You can find links to buy Found and the other books recommended here. And join us tomorrow for part two of my interview with Micha!

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photo credit: Mark Kuroda Photography

Micha (pronounced “MY-cah”) Boyett is a writer, blogger, and sometimes poet.  A former youth minister, she’s passionate about monasticism and ancient Christian spiritual practices and how they inform the contemporary life of faith. Her first book Found: A Story Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer is available now on Amazon and will be in stores April 1. Boyett and her husband live in San Francisco with their two boys. Find her on TwitterFacebook, and at michaboyett.com

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Found: An Interview with Micha Boyett {Part 1}

I would love to have you join me at Thrive Moms today to read more about the questions I’m asking God and myself about motherhood!

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I’ve been devouring books lately because there are SO. MANY. GOOD. ONES. coming out this spring and I’ve had the privilege of reading several advance copies. I honestly can’t get enough reading time and when I do, I just want to read and read and read these gems.

One of the first of this spring delivery of words I read was Found: A Story of Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer by Micha Boyett. I didn’t know of Micha before I stumbled upon her book in the faith section of a review site. It was a total God-thing I found her there because her words spoke straight to me heart.

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Found is a story of purpose and motherhood and chaos and quiet and so much questioning with which I could absolutely relate. What happens to our faith when we’re doing something different than we ever thought was in the plan? How do we approach the feelings of insignificance in our current role? Where do we find the time and space for Him when little ones are always in our hands and at our feet?

This is truly a beautiful book so many will identify with because seldom does life go exactly as we had planned from day one. And the busyness of life threatens are quiet, intimate relationship with our Savior. But Micha offers hope in her journal-like memoir of discovering the time for all things, inspired by the Benedictine way of life and faith.

I had SO many things I wanted to ask Micha after finishing Found and she graciously agreed to an interview. I couldn’t NOT share all the beauty in her answers, so I’m dividing it into two parts. Here is part one…

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photo credit: Mark Kuroda Photography

E: What initially led you to research the ways of Benedict?

Micha: I came into motherhood during a season in my life when I felt pretty frantic about my own spirituality. I was trying to be enough for God, trying to make my life count. And being ordinary seemed the furthest thing from what God would want from me. So I was desperately striving to care for my kid AND do the “big” stuff, the hard spiritual work of ministry.

I was in youth ministry then and felt constantly torn, just like most working moms, between my passion for my work and my students and the demand of my child. And I feared that if I left ministry, I was leaving the thing that made my life valuable.

So much of it came down to a skewed perspective of God. I felt like if I could just figure out how to be more organized, how to be on time, how fit more in to my schedule, then I could finally pray enough, be enough, to feel valuable.

I came to Benedictine spirituality through one quote in Kathleen Norris’ book, The Cloister Walk. In her preface, she mentions that the Benedictines have always believed “there is enough time in each day for work and study and rest and play.” As a mom, I thought maybe I’d found the Holy Grail. Maybe there was a way to have enough time in the day to be everything I needed to be!

The story of my book, though, is the reality that “enough time” is not a five-step plan, some secret sauce that nobody else has figured out. It’s a spiritual condition of believing that there is enough time because God is enough, because God is making me enough.

 

E: What is your favorite prayer of the day in the Benedictine tradition? Favorite psalm to pray?

Micha: I talk about this verse in the book, but it’s become natural for me to pray the psalm that Benedictines pray each morning when they wake up. “Oh Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise” (Psalm 51:15).

I love praying that before I open my lips. Before I’m barking orders at my kids to get dressed for school. Before I’m nagging my husband to take care of something for the house, I want to order my heart and my lips into one straight line. Will my mouth declare God’s praise? Will my hands? Will the words I write and the way I change that diaper and the grace I offer my Kindergartener when he refuses to focus on his homework?

What will happen when I open my lips today? Who will I belong to? I want to belong to Jesus. I want to belong to the God who rescues me again and again. I want to recognize God finding me, right now, today. Here.

 

E: What books do you recommend on the topic of prayer and Benedict? {This is for me, too – I’m very interested!}

I mention a lot of books in Found. But my favorite Benedictine author is Esther de Waal. Her books Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict and Living With Contradiction: An Introduction to Benedictine Spirituality just clicked with me. Also, The Benedictine Handbook has been important. It includes the Rule of St. Benedict and some reflections from monks on his teachings. It also includes a prayer guide, which I like to go back to from time to time. Also, Macrina Wiederkehr (a Benedictine nun) has a beautiful book called Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day, which works more as a devotional tool, taking you through the daily hours of prayer and offering scripture or poems or reflections to meditate on during those specific moments of prayer.

You can find links to buy Found and the other books recommended here. And join us tomorrow for part two of my interview with Micha!

 

Micha (pronounced “MY-cah”) Boyett is a writer, blogger, and sometimes poet.  A former youth minister, she’s passionate about monasticism and ancient Christian spiritual practices and how they inform the contemporary life of faith. Her first book Found: A Story Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer is available now on Amazon and will be in stores April 1. Boyett and her husband live in San Francisco with their two boys. Find her on TwitterFacebook, and at michaboyett.com

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Surprised by Motherhood

My dear Lisa-Jo wrote a book. Surprised by Motherhood. It is her journey of never wanting to be a mom.  Of losing her own mom. Of South Africa and the Ukraine and the United States. Of becoming a mom. And of being surprised by all things motherhood, especially the wonder of it all.

I was surprised by motherhood, as well, but in a very different way.

I always wanted to be a mother. As a child, I enjoyed holding babies and taking care of the younger kids. My sister and I even fought over who got to hold the newest baby cousin and for how long. I started babysitting at an early age, partially because of the money, but also because it was fun for me. Even in high school, I was voted “would make the best mom” in my senior class. And I loved that.

I worked at a daycare. I taught elementary school for five years. I really thought I had motherhood all figured out and was ready to tackle it head on. When Big J was born, motherhood felt exhausting, but still pretty natural. He got older, we added siblings for him, and then I got my surprise.

“It was like discovering a superpower – becoming a mom for the first time. It has led me to believe that motherhood should come with a superhero cape along with the free diaper bag and samples you get when the hospital sends you, otherwise defenseless, home.”

Motherhood is hard. Way harder than I ever imagined. And I don’t think it is all the kids’ fault. I know it’s not. I think I was surprised so much by motherhood because it made me confront just how selfish I am and how much I’ve always wanted to be in control. Yep, motherhood will mess with all those things in a big way.

“I didn’t know I was selfish until I had kids. I didn’t know I was angry and quick to keep a list of wrongs done to me, of slight slights, of everything I felt entitled to and was happy to demand.”

But motherhood is also hard because I love these sons of mine more than I knew was possible. I want so much for them. I feel like I should never stop praying for them. All the emotions I feel towards my children and magnified because of the great love I feel for them. My boys can be the cause for great joy, great sorrow, great frustration…all in the same day. Lisa-Jo says, “Sometimes you don’t realize you have a temper until you have kids.” And, “Nothing can hurt as much as the fears we carry for our children.” This could not be more true.

Boys Looking Up Blog

If I’m being real honest here, I have always been terrible at follow-through, especially with long-term tasks. Motherhood is definitely long-term and NOT following through is not an option for me, so I am being stretched and grown in unimaginable ways. Some days the stretching hurts, but when I pause long enough to see God at work, I feel and see so much more clearly…

“With this boy wrapped in my arms, this flesh and blood and bone that I had grown in my womb, clinging to me, I understood what the God parent feels for me. To die for this love – yes, it made sense.”

These days I’m being surprised by finding new ways to enjoy motherhood. Much of this comes from knowing that no mom thinks her job is easy. There is great relief in that knowledge.

It also comes from learning more about the amazing boys God has given us and the ways He in which He has connected us. I feel like a student all over again. And I’m making my strengths work for me – being silly and dancing more, communicating more effectively with the boys, finding ways to be positive during the rough days.

Surprised by Motherhood

If you were sitting near me when I started reading this beautiful, transparent memoir of motherhood, you would have been passing me Kleenex after Kleenex as I related so closely with Lisa-Jo’s words, despite our very different stories.

And I’m needing a Kleenex now as I write this and realize just how I needed to hear her real, nitty-gritty, wonder-filled motherhood story. How every mom needs to read the ups and downs of someone else’s motherhood story to realize just how brave and not alone they are. Lisa-Jo gets it. She gets me. She gets us, moms.

Congrats, Lisa-Jo. Your newest baby is just gorgeous.

Surprised by Motherhood is available TODAY! Yes, TODAY! Order now!

 

*I received a copy of this book to review. I was not compensated in any way for this post, and all opinions are 100% my own!

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