Tag Archives: motherhood

Be Missional, Hospitable . . . and Inspired!

be inspiredThis june, be inspired by some amazing women. Women of faith who are thinking deeply, living abundantly, loving fully. This week, I’m excited to repost an interview I did with Helen Lee back in 2011. Helen is the author of  The Missional Mom and here she shares her thoughts about missional living and hospitality.

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helenlee-07b-1024x682-150x150Helen, so glad to introduce you to my “friends.” Can you tell them a bit about yourself?

Kelli, I’m honored to be interviewed on your blog! As for an introduction, I am a homeschooling mom of three boys 9 years old and under; wife to classical pianist Brian Lee, and co-founder  Best Christian Workplaces Institute. Not all at the same time, of course. =)

You’ve written a book called The Missional Mom. Where did the idea for this book begin for you?

To understand my motivation for writing the book, we have to go back nine years, back to when I was a new mom with the first of my three boys. When I became a mother, as much as I loved and treasured my new baby boy, I have to confess that I found the transition to motherhood very challenging. It wasn’t just the physical changes that you go through as a mother, but it was also an internal struggle for me. I found myself wrestling with so many questions about what my life was supposed to be like now that I was a mom. Such as:

• Was motherhood supposed to be my only calling in life?

• What was I supposed to do with my experiences and education that God had given me before I was a mom?

• Why did the idea that I was supposed to completely immerse myself in motherhood and nothing else feel uncomfortable to me?

And the very process of asking these questions brought feelings of guilt, that I was a bad mother to be even asking these questions! So it was a very confusing time. As a writer I knew that to work through these questions, I’d need to write about it.

How would you define the term “missional”? What does it mean to live with a missional mind-set?

There has been so much written about this word that it’s daunting to try to encapsulate it into a few sentences! But for me, being missional means to embrace your calling as God’s missionary in whatever context he has placed you, and embracing his mission for you as your primary calling in life. For the Christian mother, who often mistakenly assumes that once she becomes a mom that motherhood is supposed to be her primary calling in life, I feel as though the missional perspective offers a great corrective.

Once you become a mom, your mission does not change! You are still primarily called to be God’s witness (locally and globally) and disciple-maker, and of course your home is a big context in which that happens. But by no means is it intended to be the only one. Embracing a missional perspective as a mother means that you understand your primary calling as God’s ambassador in this world, and you integrate motherhood into that calling.

And, as Scot McKnight explains so succinctly in the book, being missional is about asking a simple question: “How can I help you?” Mothers have so many opportunities to ask that question in their daily walks of life. In their neighborhoods, in their children’s school, in their workplaces–asking the question means you are taking a proactive posture and initiating in people’s lives rather than retreating into one’s own home life and ignoring the needs around you. Being a missional mom means the opposite of only focusing on one’s family; it means embracing God’s call to have an impact on the world around us, and helping our families to also be a vehicle God uses to help, serve, and love others.

Who’s somebody (or more than one person) who’s a “hero” to you when it comes to missional living? How or why does this person’s example inspire you?

My book is a collection of the stories of so many “heroes” who inspire me towards missional living. Women such as Arloa Sutter, founder and executive director of Breakthrough Urban Ministries, who started the ministry out of a desire to be obedient to God’s call to love those who are poor, and whose obedience God used to build a ministry that now touches thousands of people in Chicago. The thing is, Arloa did not know when she first began that her initial steps of reaching out to others would result in a ministry the size and scope that Breakthrough is today. But she embraced the calling that God had given her, step by step, day by day, and now she can look back and see how God has used her offerings of time, talent, and treasure in tremendous ways.

I’m not just inspired by women like Arloa who have built a tangible ministry, however; any time I hear about a mom in particular who demonstrates an obedience to the call of God to be His witness and disciplemaker, I feel a sense of awe and wonder.

In your own experience, how does missional living relate to hospitality?

Hospitality is clearly a missional value, in my mind. However, by “hospitality” I don’t just mean that we have pristine, guest-ready houses offering gourmet meals. Hospitality in the missional sense means that you are taking initiative in other people’s lives, that you are willingly embracing discomfort to build relationships with those who are different from you, that you are recognizing that all our possessions are not ours in the end, but the Lord’s to be used for the purpose of connecting with others. Hospitality ultimately means welcoming the stranger, and even bringing them into your family, such as in adoption. I think it is very difficult to live missional lives without reflecting hospitality in some way in and through our families.

 How can a woman, whether or not she’s a mom, begin to see each day differently — through a “missional” lens?

In my mind, living missionally is all about having an outward orientation in our lives, as opposed to continually being focused on our own lives, homes and families. As Rick Warren so famously says in The Purpose Driven Life, “It’s not about you.” And how right he is. But we so easily get caught up in the fallacy that it is about us, or our kids, or our spouses. Christians, however, are a called people, called to God and to his mission in the world. Living a missional life is all about claiming–or reclaiming–the basic essence of who God has made us to be.

Thanks, Helen! You can learn more about Helen at her site www.themissionalmom.com and you can join in the conversation at the Missional Mom facebook page.

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Stay tuned, readers, for more in the be inspired series!

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Be Inspired! Conversation with Julia Roller (part 2)

Be inspired! I’m excited to launch a special focus in June featuring interviews with Christian women whose stories, thoughts, ideas, and choices inspire me—and will inspire you—to love more deeply, to seek God more passionately, and to live more abundantly.

be inspired
To kick things off, we’re continuing the conversation with Julia Roller about motherhood and the spiritual life. (Click here to read part 1 – you’ll love it!). Julia’s new book Mom Seeks God honestly depicts the ups and downs—and the hidden beauties—of her journey as a mom toward experiencing God in new and different ways.

At the end of this post, read how you can easily enter a drawing to win a free signed copy of Mom Seeks God as well as a free, signed copy of my Bible study guide Awaken Your Soul!

Here’s part 2 of our conversation.

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Your book Mom Seeks God chronicles your experiences with different spiritual disciplines & practices and how they fit (or sometimes don’t) with the reality of motherhood. How has your faith-life (practices, etc.) grown and changed as a result of being a mom? What practices or disciplines seem to “work” best for you in this stage of life?

Julia Roller lowres

My faith life has changed in many ways, most of them for the better. I find that I see God more easily these days, in my children as they grow and learn, in my husband, in those around me. I feel less pressure to get everything right and more of a feeling of confidence that God can make beautiful things out of my broken and imperfect efforts.

 

The disciplines that are most dear to me right now are some of the disciplines of abstinence (of taking away rather than adding): simplicity, silence, fasting (from all kinds of things in addition to food). One of the overall things I realized after that year was that I was trying so hard to DO MORE. In order to be a better parent, to be a stronger Christian, I thought I had to add more stuff to my list—more activities, more books, more prayer, more time. No wonder I felt so exhausted all the time!

It surprised me how much I benefited from and felt close to God through the disciplines that involved doing less. As I was able to turn things off (in the practice of silence), give something up in order to increase my focus on God (fasting) and try to do one thing at a time (simplicity), I found that I was able to open up some space in my life to slow down and listen for God’s voice.

Mom Seeks God jacketWhat practices or disciplines might you recommend for other moms to try–especially those who may be new to the idea of spiritual disciplines?

Prayer is always a great place to begin. I think we often put prayer off—to a time when we have more time, when we have quiet, when we can really focus. For moms, that time may never come! I am a big fan of praying short prayers in the moment. When I tell someone I’m going to pray for them, I do it right then. When I find myself in a moment of frustration or anger, I try to take time out to pray right then. This gets easier with practice. I also encourage moms to look for that time of day that can be the best time for them to have a consistent daily time with God. For me it’s at night before bedtime; I know for many other moms, the early morning works best. I love the idea of coming before God when I am at my best and since I am a night owl, for me that time is at night, when I can reflect on my day and look forward to the next one.
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A Blessed Collision — Mom Seeks God (part 1)

Friends, to wrap up our “Be Mom” focus in May and to launch into our “Be Inspired” series for June, I’m excited to introduce you to my friend Julia Roller. She’s recently written a great new book looking at two of my very favorite topics: that blessed collision between motherhood and spiritual disciples. It’s called Mom Seeks God. Join me for a two-part conversation with Julia about the spiritual side of motherhood.

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Julia, can you tell my readers a bit about yourself?

Julia Roller lowresMy husband, Ryan and I have two boys, ages 4 and 7, and live in San Diego, where we are often busy driving to (seemingly) every soccer and baseball practice and game in town. I love reading so much that I do it while I’m cooking (which is probably why I almost invariably burn the garlic bread). I often wish I were more crafty, but alas, I use Pinterest mainly to find quotes about reading and new ways to trick my children into eating vegetables.

I love the title of your new book, Mom Seeks God, because it sort of describes my everyday life. Can you tell readers more about your book? What motivated you to write it?

You receive a lot of warnings about life after becoming a mom—you’ll be so tired, so covered in spit-up that you won’t even care that you may never lose the baby weight, etc.—but no one ever warned me that becoming a mom might lead to a time of spiritual dryness. As much as the incredible love I felt for my new baby taught me about the inexhaustible nature of God’s love for us, I also struggled to feel connected with God after becoming a mom because my new life seemed to leave little time for prayer and Bible study the way I had practiced it before. Mom Seeks God is the story of my journey to figure out how to reconnect with God in the middle of the busy life of a mom with small children.Mom Seeks God jacket

Yes, I totally get that. The same experiences led me to write a book too! Like you, initially, as a new mom, I found my spiritual desires sort of colliding with the reality of motherhood. The practices I wanted to do didn’t seem to fit with my reality. What are some of the specific struggles or spiritual challenges you faced as a new mom? Continue reading

Your (intimidating, awesome) Mama-job

Hey, Mom! You’re doing a great job — do you know that? It can be SOOOOOO rewarding to be a mom at times. And it can also be SOOOOOO tiring and intimidating and guilt-inducing if we try to live up to some outrageously unrealistic standard and perpetually feel like we’re failing. So let me ask you: Do you love your kids? Are you doing your best? Did you answer yes and yes? Then you’re doing great!

OK… glad to get that out of the way. I needed to hear that and to say that and I hope you took it to heart. Now on to this week’s topic . . . which can, unfortunately, actually BE a source of said frustration and sense of failure. Let’s talk about the faith we impart to our kids.

b.w. girls playing bike

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 charges us with the weightiest of responsibilities and the most amazing of opportunities: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

So, let’s be candid. Do I literally do all this? No. If we understand this as an exact literal directive, it’s impossible to achieve. (And, to be honest, it would make my kids very annoyed. We don’t want our non-stop God-talk to end up sounding like Charlie-Brown adults, bwah-bwah-bwah, bwah-bwah-bwah…) But if we understand it as casting a vision for us — making plain a principle — it’s so inviting and exciting and invigorating. It’s about weaving discussions of faith in and through everyday life. It’s pulling God-talk out of the van-on-the-way-home-from-church box and sprinkling it into all those other moments of living. It’s turning plain-moments into God-moments with a bit of intentionality. And one crucial ingredient to cultivating such moments? Adding FUN!

And so, without further ado, here are 12 ideas for you of ways you can transform fun experiences with your kids into meaningful faith-metaphors: Continue reading

Be Mom Series

Mom! Mom! MOM!!!!!!!!!!!

This is a sound I often hear. Let me be honest: My gut-instinct response is often irritation  because whoever is yelling my name is probably in trouble (danger), creating trouble (messes, experiments, etc.) , or is about to get in trouble (for summoning me as if I were a maid or butler).

But the truth is, I’m deeply grateful to have this moniker. And, behind all the exhaustion and stress and work and irritation of motherhood, I need this reminder of my gratitude. This job, this privilege, this name is a blessing.

be mom seriesAnd so, this month, I’m excited to invite you to join me for a new series: be mom.

We’ll look together at how we can be more proactive as parents in taking on this great privilege of momhood.

We’ll consider how parenting both challenges and enriches our spiritual lives.

We’ll think about how we have the power to foster an environment within our homes that can profoundly shape our kids and strengthen our relationships.

AND we’ll have fun sharing great, creative ideas.

Join me . . . be mom.

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An important caveat. I hesitated in choosing this topic because I know some of you, dear readers, are not mothers. You may, in fact, long to be a mom — and this may be a painful topic for you. So please know that you, too, are welcome in this conversation. You, too, are a mother to the younger people you know and love — nieces, nephews, students, neighbor kids. I hope that this series still feels welcoming and inviting to you — a place where you can engage with ideas and find encouragement. 

While the theme this month is on motherhood, the broader focus of this blog is spiritual encouragement for all readers. We are each more than the roles and labels that attempt to define us. My hope is that we all can find nourishment here as we each, on our own journey, draw closer to being — being ourselves, being with God, being true and whole and loved.

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Christmas Break . . .

red berriesAhhh… it’s Christmas. Yes, it is STILL Christmas… the whole 12 days of celebration!

If you’ve got kids (or grandkids), check out (or share) this FREE article I wrote for Today’s Christian Woman: a Christmas Break Survival Guide.

And pause to consider . . . what are your New Year’s resolutions? How will 2014 be a year of spiritual growth for you? Check back in here during January for encouragement to revitalize your spiritual walk.

Wings . . . Love

eggs nestEvery so often I lead my kids in singing the Tallis Canon as a bedtime prayer:

All praise to Thee my God this night
For all the blessings of the light!
Keep me, oh keep me, King of Kings
Beneath Thine own almighty wings.
Amen.
 

The other night after singing, my youngest asked, “Does God have wings?” Ah . . . what a beautiful question. And I’m deeply thankful for Scripture’s answer (that I got to explain as we cuddled).

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. . . .
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
(Psalm 91:1, 4)

A bird, from a mighty eagle to a meek chickadee, will nestle its young under its wings — covering them from dangerous weather, hiding them from threatening predators, warming them in a shelter of love. This is the picture painted by the psalmist. God loves us like this. Continue reading

Savor Everyday Mercies

How do we cherish our families? Part of it comes in learning to see the beauties hidden in the small moments of life. So I’m very excited to introduce you to my dear friend Darcy Wiley — a great cherisher of moments. Darcy blogs over at Message in a Mason Jar and is “Mom” to three kids.

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Darcy, tell my readers a bit about yourself!

cherishfamilyThanks for hosting me, Kelli. It’s a joy to be at your place today. I always say I’m a world traveler turned stay-at-home mom. I try to go about my domestic life with the same eye for discovery that I had during my decade adventuring abroad. The kids definitely keep things fresh. The world is an amazing place when filtered through the lens of a 6-year-old boy, an almost-4-year-old girl and their baby sister. We love to ride bikes, do gardening, read books, go creek stomping, and lots of other things. Full-time motherhood is a pretty amazing gig when you think about it. I take a lot of pictures, but my real favorite way to gather mementos and to process a meaningful experience is in the written word. Right now, I’m in a catch-22, where the kids give me all kinds of material but often my work of caring for them leaves me with very little time for writing a complete piece.

As you reflect on the last few months, what has God been teaching you about cherishing your family?

I’ve been learning how love needs space to flourish. To me, that means clearing the schedule as much as possible to allow for unexpected challenges and to allow time for interacting without the grumpiness that hurry brings. Sometimes it makes people uncomfortable that I say no to a task they think I should volunteer for. But anytime I’ve given into false guilt at the expense of my family’s sanity, I’ve regretted it.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the pull between my two callings of parenting and writing. A few weeks before my daughter was born this spring, I had put a lot of creativity and time into the Take Heart series on my blog. As much as I loved that, I found myself surprisingly excited about being forced to slow down on posting in order to focus on the intense neediness of a newborn. It has been a re-centering time when I felt the privilege of tending to my flesh and blood as my first priority. In fact, as much as I want to share my thoughts and feelings and writing pieces with a greater population someday, I feel the Lord often reminding me that these children are the masterpiece I’m sending out into the world.

It’s so easy to take loved ones for granted. Cherishing them is a choice! What are some ideas you have for concrete ways women can cherish their families? Continue reading

A Big/Small Dream

“My dream is to live rich moments rather than have life scamper by . . .” 

Have you ever dreamed a God-sized dream? I explore God-sized dreams and the presence of God over at my friend Holley Gerth’s site. You can read more by clicking here.

 

PERFECTMOM . . . not!

I did a really dangerous thing a few years ago. . . and then I did it again.

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I wrote a book about being a mom.

Faith-Filled.Moments.coverAnd then I wrote a book about parenting.

Am I NUTS????!?!?!?

Here’s the danger: We live in a culture — and particularly a church-culture — enamored with the false god of the “perfect family.” Magazines, books, blogs, and  Pinterest feed this obsession of family perfection — ideal meals, fantastic activities, lifelong memories, problem-free relationships, etc. And tied into this is the pressure to be PERFECTMOM. To cook, clean, craft, parent, work, love idyllically. (It’s not a new pressure! Check out the family picnic instructions from an earlier era!)family picnic

So let me say, right off the bat, that my books on parenting (The Busy Mom’s Guide to Spiritual Survival and Faith-Filled Moments) are not — I repeat NOT, NOT, NOT — written from some perspective of me having it all figured out, doling out advice to PERFECTMOM wannabes. NO WAY. My writing is always about the journey — and I’m a fellow pilgrim on the road who trips up just as much as you. (Check out my bruised shins for evidence!)

So . . . this gigantic “disclaimer” sets me up to share part of the vision for my newest devotional guide Cherish Your FamilyIf your family is ideal and you’re PERFECTMOM, then you don’t need this book. But if you’re a human being — a woman who loves your family and has a dream to love them better even as you stumble along the way — then I hope this excerpt ministers to you.

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But . . . Family Life is Hard!

A happy Christian family.

What came to mind when you read these words? A family of perfectly-behaved children who pray reverently during nightly family devos? A couple with endlessly romantic love for each other—who frequently pray together, never fight, and have a problem-free, passionate sex life? Some idealized myth of a Christian family that’s forever out of reach? With some fairy-tale “perfect Christian wife and mom” who you’ll never measure up to? Continue reading