Category: faith

Mom: Still the Best Title

With Mother’s Day fast approaching, I thought I’d share this with you all. I bet some of you moms can relate.

Our kids need us in so many ways, even if they act like they don’t. While this post was inspired by my daughter, who suffers from juvenile arthritis, it’s certainly is applicable to all of our kids.

When my daughter was 15, she was struck with a particularly debilitating flare up of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. She ended up spending seven weeks in a rehabilitation hospital. I was a single mom at the time. Our days cycled through early morning hospital visits, school and work for my son and me (all-day physical and occupational therapy for my daughter), grabbing a frozen meal made in bulk by our wonderful church group and heading to the hospital to eat said frozen meal, do homework (my son) and work (me) while visiting with my daughter. Go to bed. Wake up. Repeat. Our personal Groundhog Day for seven weeks.

Sitting next to your child’s hospital bed will give you time to think. My daughter was fifteen, but she still wanted her mom with her. So I spent as much time as my job, and my son’s needs, allowed. And while I was sitting next to her, holding her hand, encouraging her through the pain of physical therapy, comforting her, or letting her beat me at mancala, I was struck by how much she just needed me to be mom. She had people to help her to deal with her disability, but no one but me could be her mom.

As a single mom then, much of my time was consumed by being the provider for my kids, putting a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs, and food on the table. I spent hours each day making sure everything at work was functioning properly so books and Bibles got published on time. Much of what I had wanted to accomplish with my life and my time had to be set aside for the time being. And I was reminded of the importance of that when I ran across this quote by GK Chesterton.

How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. (What’s Wrong with the World, quoted in Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge, Nelson Books)

The last two lines are my favorite because, especially when my children were small, I was everything to them. I am still their world, and the import of that can be staggering. I am continually grateful that I was able to stay at home with them when they were small. And now that they are older, they still need me greatly. Though instead of wiping noses and tying shoes, I’m helping with homework and making sure chores are done. And sitting by my daughter’s hospital bed while she learns to walk again. No matter how much your teens may act like they don’t need you, no one can take your place.

I have many titles: small business owner, editor, church member, friend. But the one that means the most is simply mom.

Fog over a field

By Faith

BY JENNIFER VANDER KLIPP

By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones. Hebrews 11:22 (NIV)

Joseph’s faith reminds me of Nancy. While I didn’t know Nancy, I’ve seen her faith. Nancy was dying of cancer when she felt God telling her to write. She didn’t know why, but she obeyed. After her death, her son found a wonderful legacy in her writings. They touched him so deeply that he shared them with others and had them published. Nancy never saw the fruit of her obedience in this life but her faithfulness has already touched many people.

Joseph was also dying. So at first it doesn’t seem remarkable that he gave instructions about what to do with his body after his death (Genesis 50:24, 25). But Joseph’s instructions spoke about an event that would take place 400 years in the future! The Israelites were still in Egypt, had no leader, and no plans to go to the Promised Land. Yet Joseph said that he wanted them to take his bones with them when they go. He knew that God had promised them this land and he held to that promise in faith, even though the circumstances did not remotely indicate that this promise was coming true any time soon.

After a life of difficulties and hardships, Joseph had risen to a high position in Egypt, even though he was a Hebrew. He could have regarded Egypt as his home and requested a large funeral and ornate tomb. But he remained a Hebrew at heart, taking God at His promise. By requesting a burial in the Promised Land, he was saying that even though he wouldn’t live to see it, he had absolute faith the Israelites would get there.

That is the kind of faith the writer of Hebrews wants us to have. Many believers, like Joseph and Nancy, didn’t see God’s promises fulfilled while they lived. Yet they were still faithful. God wants us to have faith in Him regardless of our circumstances. Just because we can’t see how a situation could possibly work out, doesn’t mean it won’t. God’s perspective is so much bigger than ours. Aren’t you glad it is? Ask God to show you where you need to step out in faith . . .and then do it!

Sunset over California foothills

How To Deal With Loneliness

BY JENNIFER VANDER KLIPP

Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10 (NIV)

Loneliness is one of the hardest things to endure. God made us to be social creatures. Not only were we designed to have a relationship with Him, but with others as well. When we are lacking those relationships, we feel the loss deeply. Yet most of us, if not all of us, have gone through periods of loneliness in our lives.

One of the times of greatest loneliness in my life was when I moved from my hometown. I left my job to make a career change and went back to college for another degree. I had no car, so I took the bus to school, went to class, and came home to study. I felt so lonely. I remember it as one of the dark days of my life. Yet I also remember it as one of the times of greatest spiritual growth. I was forced to rely on God. I learned about Him and myself and our relationship. I learned about my gifts. I learned to trust Him with my future, something I hadn’t really done before, even though I had been a Christian since I was a young child.

The Bible says we will have trials in our life (1 Peter 1:6-7). Perhaps loneliness is yours right now. When we go through tough times, God wants us to use them as opportunities to develop our faith in Him. Consider your time of loneliness as a time to refine yourself. Develop spiritual disciplines like spending time in the Word, memorizing Scripture, or deepening your prayer life.

Additionally, you can use this time to develop your God-given gifts. Volunteer for a ministry. Not only will you learn more about yourself, but you will help others. Seeing others’ needs often puts our own in perspective.

Finally, the hardest part is to learn to be content with where God has you now. Paul says in Philippians 4:11, “for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” He knew this contentment didn’t come of his own abilities. He says later in Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” We can do whatever God calls us to do because He will give us the strength.

Make a plan to deal with your loneliness. Study an area of Scripture you’ve always been curious about. Spend more time in prayer. God has something He wants you to learn during this time. Don’t miss out. He is trustworthy and He will never leave you.

 

 

Shadows holding hands

Survival Skills for Moms, Part 3

BY JENNIFER VANDER KLIPP

Our first two parts (Part 1 and Part 2) discussed getting and cooking food, activities that take up a large part of our over-stretched calendars and budgets. But today we’re talking about you.

As moms, we’re so busy taking care of our families that we routinely put ourselves last on the list. And that’s a sure-fire recipe for burnout. So here are three areas you need to nurture if you want to avoid that.

Time for yourself

I hear you saying, “What’s that? I never have that.” True. You have to make time for yourself. Get out your calendar and block off time for yourself. Whether it’s to do a hobby you love, work out, read, or just be where no one is calling your name. You cannot serve your family out of an empty well. You have got to take time to refill your well.

Time with your spouse

For those of you who are married, I you have to have time alone with your spouse. Regular date nights will feed your marriage. Someday all those little birds will fly the nest. It would be nice to still know the person you’re married to when it’s just the two of you.

Dates don’t have to be expensive. A cup of coffee, an ice cream, a walk all count as dates. What matters is that the two of you have time to connect. A strong marriage reassures your children and gives them comfort and security.

Time with God

Being a mom to boys is exhausting and difficult, fun and crazy. They are quite different creatures from girls. Being a mom to girls brings its own challenges with emotions and identity. We need to regularly go to God with our hopes, fears, dreams, and questions. He is their Maker. He gave them to us. And He loves them more than we do. Let Him refresh your soul and guide you in raising your children.

Hopefully, you’ve found a few useful ideas to try out during this series. Raising young men and women is an adventure, and we need all the help we can get from each other!

 

 

 

Fresh veggies

Survival Skills for Moms, Part 1

BY JENNIFER VANDER KLIPP

When your kids were little, they needed you for every little thing. Feeding, clothing, changing diapers, toting them from place to place. I remember thinking that things would be easier when they got older and didn’t need me so much.

They still need me. But in a different way. While I don’t have to spoon feed them anymore, I still spend a lot of time in the car running them around for school activities, sports, hang out times with friends, and—because I have two special needs kids—lots of doctor appointments.

Because I’m naturally a planner, organizer, and project manager by trade, I’ve developed a few survival skills for moms to survive those crazy years. Some you may already know about, some might not work for you at all. But the more we share with each other what’s working for us, the more we help each other out.

Groceries

Moms of teen boys often feel they need to take out a small loan before going grocery shopping. The kids eat a lot and often. In our house, we call them locust (see this post ). Once upon a time, I used the grocery lists like the Grocery Game and Savings Angel to figure out what to buy when and what coupons to use. If you haven’t used them before (or something similar in your area) they are worth checking out to see if they will work for you. Most of them have trial periods.

The idea is that grocery stores work on 12-week cycles. You stock up on what you need during the low prices (combined with coupons when possible) then you make your weekly meals out of what you already have on hand. It’s a great way to save money, particularly on things like paper goods, cleaning products, and toiletries. But it does take time. Additionally, if you don’t buy a lot of prepared or packaged foods, coupons won’t be as valuable to you.

If time is really crunched for you Amazon’s Subscribe and Save and Prime Pantry programs might be for you. With Subscribe and Save, you pick out your items from their Subscribe and Save shop. You get a delivery once a month, pay no shipping, and save 15% on your total order if you have more than 5 items. This is great for supplies like toilet paper and dog food that you need monthly. The prices can be comparable to grocery stores or even warehouse stores, so check the prices. You get an email several days before your order is locked in and you can make changes to it. Then it’s delivered to your door. I get about 50% of my groceries this way.

For fresh food, companies like Door to Door Organics (parts of New Jersey, New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, Illinois, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Missouri)and Zaycon Foods (nationwide) can be good sources for produce and meat if they are in your area. Door to Door Organics will deliver a box of fresh fruits and veggies every other week, plus other groceries you might like to add to your order. You will pay more than the grocery store, but many people like the option to choose local farmers, organic produce, and community sponsored agriculture.

Zaycon uses the buying power of its members to make large purchases from local farms. They deliver to a local, central location where you pick up your order. Prices are usually better than what you can get in the store. But you need to have freezer room for the large orders and usually it’s several months between orders.

Another way to get fresh veggies into your family without having to go to the grocery store is through Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) boxes (go here to find them near you) and produce co-ops like Bountiful Baskets. With CSAs you buy a “share” of a farm from a local farmer and each week they provide you with a box of produce. Produce co-ops buy seasonal produce in bulk and distribute it to their members on a regular basis. Both options provide fresh produce for your families and support local farmers, usually at a savings to you.

Bulk shopping

Most people know the advantages of shopping at places like Costco and Sam’s Club. You can get large quantities at lower prices. For things you use a lot of or go through quickly, this is a good option. But check prices. They aren’t always better than the grocery store. And if something goes bad before you can use it up then it’s not a deal. You also have to have room to store extras (closet, garage, basement, under your bed).

Share the load

If you have friends in the same boat as you, consider sharing the load with them by buying in bulk together. Or start a co-op with several families. Door to Door Organics and Bountiful Baskets work particularly well with co-ops.

Most of these tips require a little prep time, but they will save you in the long run. Realize, too, that your sanity is a valuable commodity. IF something makes your life easier, it can be worth the cost.

Stay tuned. Part 2 talks about what to do with all this food now that you have it!

 

Note—I do not receive any compensation from any of the companies listed or linked to here. I’m just a mom sharing with other moms what has worked for me.

Barn in winter

Cut the Rope

BY JENNIFER VANDER KLIPP

…and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. 1 John 3:22 (NASB)

A man and his son were mountain climbing. The father had safely descended a tricky ledge and waited at the bottom for his son in the midst of a rising storm. The rain slicked the rocks and the son lost his footing, fell off the cliff, his safety rope suspending him in mid-air. He tried climbing the rope but was too weak.

The rain turned to sleet and the sky darkened. The son knew he wouldn’t survive through the night in the fierce storm. From below he faintly heard his father’s voice through the icy wind: “Cut the rope!” The son waited, thinking he was hearing things. Why would he cut the one thing that was keeping him safe? Then he heard it again. “Cut the rope!”

He knew it was his father’s voice. He knew his father loved him. He knew he could trust him, even though the instructions seemed to counteract every logical thought in the son’s head. Hand shaking, he pulled his pocketknife out of his belt and began sawing at the rope, stomach tightening against the inevitable fall. As the last thread snapped with his weight, the son fell… about two feet to the ledge below him.

As he climbed off the ledge down to his father, he was grateful his dad could see what he couldn’t, that true safety was found in letting go.

Do you ever say, “I can’t”? Have you ever stopped to think that what you really mean is, “I won’t”? Our God is big. There’s nothing He can’t do. But often He won’t work in our lives because of the state of our hearts. He desires our faith to grow, and one way we demonstrate our faith in Him is through our obedience. Just as we want our children to obey us because they trust us—even when our instructions don’t make sense to them—God wants us to obey Him, regardless of our own ability to figure out the situation.

We need to let go of the things we think keep us safe—control over our money, our use of time, our choices in life. Control is an illusion.

Let’s start doing the things God has called us to do. What’s something you know God’s been asking you to do but you’ve said, “I can’t”? Step out in faith today and do it.

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