EXPERIENCING the Blessing of a Child

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Me with my precious Ella girl

I woke up and my body ached, my head hurt, and I had the sniffles.

I got what my kids had.

Last week all three of my children got sick with a cold, fever, body and tummy aches. I cuddled them, made them tea, rubbed their heads, and even fell asleep with one of them in their bed while thanking God that I was able to be with them while they were sick.

It was inevitable that I would get it. So when I did, I took some Ibuprofen and slathered on a bunch of oils. I then cuddled down into my bed and begged everyone around me not to talk or put on any lights.

Then it happened. My sweet girl sat on the bed next to me, rubbed my head gently, and said things like, “I’m so sorry you don’t feel well, mom. I love you.” She rubbed my head and spoke soothing words to me for nearly 10 whole minutes.

And right there, right in those minutes, I experienced one of the blessings of children.

I know that children are a blessing, but most days there is so much correction and teaching and cooking and cleaning up and the tiredness and “mom, mom, mom, mom, MOM!” and all the rest of mothering that the blessing can get lost. But when my dear Ella spoke kindly to me and rubbed my head, my heart felt such delight. I felt loved and cared for and she truly ministered to me.

The days can be long and difficult, but with each correction, each meal served, each cuddle, each kind word spoken and head rubbled and book read, I am imprinting my children with the stuff of love. And I am, without always being conscience of it, teaching them how to love.

You guys, parenting is ridiculous. It is so tired and frustrating at times, but then your child rubs your head and speaks calmness over you and it’s all worth it. All the work that you put in, day in and day out, it’s worth it. Our children are learning how to love. And when they love practically, people soften, light shines, and God, who is love, is seen.

It is love that changes the world. And that love, it begins in the four walls of your home.

It begins and works itself out in hidden places, in the normal, in the dailyness of life. But it happens, if you give yourself to the work.

So keep on moms, because what the world desperately needs comes, literally, from the love of a mother.

“Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; He will also delight your soul.” Proverbs 29:17

Love, SM

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He Goes Before & He Directs Our Steps (A Night to Breathe Event)

- This event is SOLD OUT -

You can enter your name on the waitlist here.

amyhoovfamThe Hoover and Smoker Fams

It’s a funny thing, this directing of steps.

Ever since handing Allume over to my dear friend Logan three years ago, I have been content (and happily so) to not run events. In fact, I have done more than a few happy dances celebrating that I no longer have the stress of running a conference.

I still have no desire to run a conference.

However, recently I have felt compelled to do something to encourage moms where I am and with the capacity I have. I have felt the stirring of something, a simple something that could, maybe, bring relief to some moms in our area.

A night out, perhaps? A night of dessert and coffee (or tea), friendship and talks that encourage and offer hope from the stories of fellow moms?

I shared this compelling with my always-has-a-good-word friend Amy (mom of five). She said she also felt the desire to offer hope to moms.

We talked and dreamed and prayed and we decided that we could take a night to lift up and serve fellow moms who just need some time to breathe.

We came up with simple evening, made some calls, and picked a date.

I believe that God has laid this evening on my and Amy’s heart in order to help moms to keep on, but I have to tell you that just a few minutes ago before I began typing this post, I asked the Lord again, “Are you sure? Are you with me? I don’t want to go ahead of you on this.”

I opened up my devotional and read today’s reading. The scripture?

The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Deuteronomy 31:8

It is with that final affirmation (there have been so many), and my husband’s unwavering support, that I go forward with this simple offering. And you guys, I am really excited about it. :)

A Night to Breathe

When Amy and I dreamed up what we wanted for moms, we thought about what we really wanted.

One of the top things? Time away from the noise in order to have some time to think and pray and just be with Jesus. We also would want cake, because CAKE, and coffee or tea and someone to encourage us to keep on in this motherhood thing that is beautiful and crazy and precious and consuming. Also, time to have actual, uninterrupted conversations with friends. Laughter is a must. Grace, of course, because we are all just doing our best. Yea, that’s we what we could really use.

And so it is. A Night to Breathe is an evening (and hopefully morning) for you to get away so that you can get refreshed in order to go back home with your spirit lifted, your soul nourished, and a plan for keeping your sanity, enjoying your family, and being intentional as a mom, wife, and woman.

In keeping with our own desire to have a full morning to ourselves of quiet and actual full thoughts, we are encouraging everyone to stay in the hotel overnight in order to take the whole morning to relax, sleep, breathe, pray, REST, and plan (plus CLEAN SHEETS). Because of this ache for some quiet time and brain space, we found a hotel that was willing to give us an incredible room rate of only $89 a night. If you can swing that, we think it will do your soul good. If not, grab a friend or two, and your whole evening, including ticket and a peaceful night and morning away, could be only $70. We think it’s worth it. However, it certainly isn’t required to stay overnight! To book your hotel room, click HERE.

Details and Tickets

Who the Event is For: This event was designed with the mom in mind who is tired, could use a rest, and wants to be spurred on to keep on. While an older mom with teens might benefit, it is really for those moms with younger children (say, under 11).

When: March 28th, 2015 (Less than two months away!)

Where: The Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey Hotel, Harrisburg, PA (Book your room HERE)

Time: 7-10pm (But we HIGHLY recommend you spend the night so you have all morning to breathe, process, pray, and plan for your soul and your family)

Speakers: Sarah Mae (hi, that’s me) and Amy Smoker (you will ADORE her)

Tickets: Tickets are $40. There are 100 spots available. Tickets include access to the talks, dessert, coffee/tea, a vision planning sheet, and a gift. To get your ticket, go HERE.

Eventbrite - A Night to Breathe
Hotel Room Rate: If you would like to stay overnight (encouraged), we have secured a room rate of only $89. To get this rate, you must book by March 6th. You can do that by clicking HERE.

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We hope that you local area moms can join us. We are just honored and excited to be able to serve you and encourage you and be with you. Here’s to the exhale!

Love, Sarah Mae

P.S. Come back here later because I will have a pretty little event poster/picture for you to share with your friends!

P.P.S. Sorry for the late 31 Days to Clean posts, but I was working on this! :) They’ll will be up soon!

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Hey Moms, I Believe in You!

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To all the moms out there, especially the ones with small children,

I LOVE YOU. Seriously.

It’s hard raising humans. PERIOD. And don’t you feel guilty for admitting it. We don’t need any more women hiding out for fear of being honest about how hard motherhood really is.

And yes, as with anything good and worthwhile, work is involved. HARD work. Diligence. Intention. But here’s what I want you to know today:

I believe in you.

I believe that you have what it takes to be a great mom. In fact, I bet you already are one. So yea, you blow it more times than you’d like, but you love your kiddos and you are doing your best with who you are and what you have.

I see you.

I see that you beat yourself up when you fail. I see that you lay awake at night wondering how you can do better. I see that you cuddle your babes and take care of their boo boo’s and make them their favorite snack. I see that you’re trying.

I know some of you are really tired, and the last thing you need to hear is DO BETTER! I want to tell you to rest, snuggle, eat cake, and even sometimes binge watch Netflix. It’s okay. We’re all figuring out how to live well and sometimes living well is crashing in bed with ice cream and a movie.

Some of you need to know that there is hope.

There is hope for raising your kids; you’re not alone in it. You’ve got a long line of sisters before you and after you who are WITH you. Listen to the older sisters. They have wisdom and experience. Listen to the gracious ones, the kind ones.

I know you are trying to raise and disciple and teach and discipline your children, you just aren’t always sure how. I know that you know it matters; your mothering matters!

Might I offer a few tips to encourage you as you are raising your special little people? I am in this right with you.

Forgive Yourself and Begin Again

Listen, you are going to botch up. We all do because we are human and we sin. It’s why we need Jesus and it’s why at the end of the day the most important thing we can do is lead our children to our loving Savior. I yell to much, and I didn’t think I did. The other day my son yelled at my daughter and I thought, “That’s what I sound like.” Ouch. Our children are a mirror of their world. My kids are with me all day, so guess what, they are getting most of the stuff, the good and the ugly, from me. Talk about convicting! But I’ve learned that if I stay in a place of guilt, I don’t move forward and it’s easier to give up. We must not give up! So I accept the grace of my Father and His forgiveness, and with His help, I begin again. You can to. Always, everyday.

Learn From Wise Women

If there is anything that I could pass on to you it would be to listen and heed the words of older, wiser women who have gone before us. Most of you know that I ADORE Sally Clarkson. She is wise and gracious and idealistic and she has done the work. I cannot recommend her books enough. I would also recommend Things I Wish I’d Known Sooner by Jaroldeen Edwards.

Keep On

It is so easy to let things slide in the every day of raising children. Ask me how I know. But if there is anything I’ve learned from my mentors, the wise sisters who have gone before me, it is that it is worth it to keep on! It’s worth it every time you have to break up a fight or correct a disrespectful attitude or give another time-out after your child disobeys and have yet another talk about how we use our words. IT’S WORTH IT. The time truly does fly, and I don’t want to miss it! I bet you don’t want to either.

So here’s the thing, sister, WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER. I’ve got your back and you’ve got mine and He’s got both of us. We can do this mothering thing, but we’ve got to lift each other up and not bring each other down. We’ve got to be FOR each other.

I am for you. I’m cheering you on and praying for all of you that you would keep on. Don’t give up. One day at a time.

Love you so,

SM

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The Hidden Years

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Me with my Ella girl

A year for sure.

Maybe longer. Maybe 10.

My sweet Ella will turn 18 in 10 years.

My boy will be 16, and my Care will be nearly 15. I will be 43.

These are the years I have to teach, train, influence, and disciple my babies. And once these years are gone, they’re gone. I will never get them back.

See, I don’t just want to get by in mothering; I want to mother with clarity and intention, seeking to raise Kingdom-minded children who will, Lord willing, go into the world with strength, and courage, and integrity, and faithfulness and a resolve to be light wherever God leads them. This doesn’t just happen, it takes hard work and time. And I don’t want to miss my chance.

Here’s what I’m saying: I quit.

I quit the public life for awhile.

I had a dream this past weekend, and in it I was yelling at my children, and then crying out of guilt, and then my daughter walked away. And the feeling was that it was too late, and I felt the full weight of regret all over. And it hurt bad. I woke up terrified that that dream was a future feeling I would have if I didn’t change course.

And so this is about faith and obedience and the offer of a gift.

Over the weekend I heard Sally talk about the “hidden years” where she did the work and raised her kids before God used her publicly. Something about that phrase, “the hidden years” stuck with me.

I think hidden years are a gift from God where we can privately grow in faithfulness, integrity and wisdom in preparation for the years where we will have opportunity to teach and influence others. Sally said to me years ago, “We need women who are willing to do the work in their homes, raising their children now so they have something to say later.” This isn’t about working women or stay-at-home moms, it’s about doing the hard work of teaching and training and growing so that we have something of substance to say and teach later. I hear wisdom in that statement, and I want it.

I want to teach and influence and encourage moms one day, but I don’t just want to relate with them, I want to have something of substance to offer them that will help them practically. I want to be a woman of integrity who will speak from the experience of a mom who did the hard work of bringing up her children with intention and faithfulness.

I just don’t want to compromise.

There are so many voices out there that will give permission to compromise in motherhood, and it is alluring and it sounds really good, but I can’t. I am all in to go after my children’s hearts and their behavior. I want to love them practically; I want them to have me available.

I also see a wisdom principle for those who will teach found in 1 Timothy 3:4-5 -

“He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)…”

Yes, this scripture is out of context as it’s about an overseer or elder in the church. But the principle as I see is that someone who will be influencing and teaching others should have their own home in order. It has to do with integrity and faithfulness.

My home is not in order. Oh, it’s not bad, but my kiddos are little and are in the training years and I have much work to do (plus I homeschool); I cannot be distracted. This is my life, and my kids lives, and how they will interact with the world (I want them to make an impact!). Raising my children well is really important to me. I know there are no guarantees on how they will turn out, but I don’t want to look back on my life one day and know that I didn’t give it my all.

Jesus discipled 12 men day in and day out; he taught them and loved them and did life with them. He has modeled for me what I can do for my children.

Also, this is my calling. I am 100% called to be a mom, and so I want to walk fully and faithfully into my calling. And when I do that, when I mother well (albeit quite imperfectly) I lay my head down at night and experience peace instead of regret or guilt. It is the best feeling ever.

Okay, so does that mean that I can’t write? I don’t think that’s what it means, and I’m not interested in telling others what they should or shouldn’t do. God has offered me, I believe, the opportunity to have the hidden years. I believe He has also asked me to stop writing publicly for a season, and so this is obedience.

That season is at least a year.

And that’s really hard for me, because I love being here and writing and encouraging you all as you encourage me in return. However, my hands are up and this is faith. I trust God with my life and my words and everything. Truth be told, I’m really looking forward to seeking His face more intimately this year as I pursue Him and His Word more diligently.

I will continue to write privately, and I do have a book coming out spring or summer of 2015 (published by Tyndale). It’s about waking up to your own life and really living it, and not regretting it (so fitting right now!). The book is about a journey I embarked on to get unstuck and enjoy my life. It has been a delight to write and I look forward to sharing it with you. If you want to be notified when the book is available, you can click HERE to subscribe to this blog as I will post about it when it is available. I’ll also be updating my Facebook page from to time.

Well ya’ll, I guess that’s it.

Thank you for being faithful readers and encouragers to me. You all are a gift.

See you in a year (or 10).

Love,

Sarah Mae

Recommended (these are my favorite parenting books):

The Mission of Motherhood

The Ministry of Motherhood

Heartfelt Discipline

Affiliate links are used in this post.

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I’m Sort Of Panicking…Because We’re Getting Rid of Our T.V.

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Well.

I have thought about it several times, about getting rid of our T.V. But then I come to my senses and think about all the times that T.V. has saved me from going crazy by putting it on for the babes.

Also, we have movie night every week.

And I like watching movies with my husband.

And, did I mention it’s saved me a time or two from going crazy?

Yet, I thought about it. I thought, “What if…”

Could it be better for our kids if we didn’t have it?

Could it be better for my husband and I if we didn’t have it?

Could I end up in a mental institution without a T.V. break for the kids?

All valid questions.

Then my husband, about a month ago, says, “Why don’t we just get rid of our T.V.?”

And I was all, “Um, no…I need it, just in case, you know? Plus I like watching movies with you and having family movie night.”

I didn’t want to get rid of the T.V., but I was willing to try a week without T.V., except for movie night.

And we did it, we went a week without T.V. and it was…easy. The kids only asked to watch it once or twice, and when I said it was no T.V. week they found something else to do. They got creative. They used their imaginations. They were fine. And I was fine.

Huh.

But then we went back to watching it, because it was easy, and so accessible.

Fast forward to today.

We were driving to the library and I put in a tape about Beethoven: stories of his life and bits of his music throughout. We all enjoyed listening to it. What struck me was this: I wonder if Beethoven had T.V. if he would have realized his gift at such a young age…or even at all. I wonder if we would have his brilliant compositions if he had a T.V.? And then I thought, “I wonder how many children in my kids generation will never fulfill or discover their potential if they are too “busy” watching T.V.? How many gifts are we missing out on because kids aren’t “bored” enough to tinker and explore and think and create?”

I shared my thoughts with my husband and he said, “Let’s just get rid of it.”

And so we are.

I’m not going to lie, I’m a little panicked. It’s a crutch for me when I’m tired and I want the kids to be occupied.

But what I want more, is for my kids to use their imaginations and maybe, just maybe, discover some unexplored talent. Maybe I want them to be bored. Maybe I want to get uncomfortable so I can invest more into them, and maybe have a game night instead of a movie night.

Maybe.

Because….

What if?

Taking a deep breath and remembering that people lived without T.V. for hundreds of years,

Sarah Mae

Have any of you taken the plunge and gotten rid of your T.V.?

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