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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A Very Special Human

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I was speaking with a friend and we were talking about parenting and how we want so badly to do it well. She said something that profoundly affected my viewpoint on God, my weaknesses, and His grace. She said,

“I’m praying that God stands in the gap where I fall short.”

Hearing her say those words was like a long-awaited breeze drying off a summer sweat. They were so hope filled. Yes, God wants to see my children walking with Him, so  because He is well aware of my inadequacies, I believe He will stand in the gap when I fall short.

Because ya’ll, I fall short.

But so what, because the fact is He loves my babies and wants them to know Him and enjoy Him.

I love my babies too, but the reality is I’m just another human on this journey with them.

(Well, not just another human, their very special human. :) )

I wasn’t born with motherhood figured out. I wasn’t even born self-less and awesome. I was born prone to wonder.

Yet, I’m clinging to the hope that He will fill in the gaps as I pursue this goal (as spoken by Sally Clarkson):

“I don’t just want my kids to be moral. I don’t just want them to know all of the biblical rules for behavior. I don’t just want them to make it through my home with good grades, no drug addition, and no premarital sex. I want them to leave my home with a hunger and passion to know God personally and to be used by him to accomplish great things for his kingdom.”

Oh this.

I want to pass on to my children a hunger and passion and a Kingdom focus. But it won’t come easy and it won’t come cheap.

What great thing does?

My goal as a parent then is to be as intentional as possible when it comes to instilling in my children a love of God. I suppose this will be something they see in me as I teach them.

It will, of course, take a lot of falling down and getting back up. A lot of forgiveness and grace and the seeking of His face.

A lot of beginning again.

But it’s all okay, because He knows.

And He’s for us.

With three small children, I know I have a long road ahead of me. One that requires much sacrifice on my part, but one that will no doubt surprise me one day as I look back on how fast it all actually went. I am also anticipating great joy.

I know God is continually, gently, guiding me to persevere, have vision, and keep my eyes on Him. He is my shepherd; He is my children’s shepherd, and He stands in the gap with a mercy that makes the spirit inside me swell with gratitude and peace.

I can do this.

Because He’s with me every step of the way.

“…I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Love, Sarah Mae

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW OVER

P.S. How about one last giveaway in honor of the one-year anniversary of Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe? And I’ll make it two things since I didn’t write yesterday.

Today you can enter to win this beautiful Redeemed Necklace from DaySpring (I have this and I wear it often):

redeemed

And also this Wonderful Grace – Carved Wooden Serving Tray (also from DaySpring, and also something I use):

tray

To enter, just leave a comment. I’ll pick, at random, someone for the tray and someone to win the necklace.

Good “luck!”

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW OVER

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4 Things to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed with Life

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This post is from my sweet friend, Crystal Paine (moneysavingmom). Enjoy!

It was 2009. My third baby had just been born. I was beginning “official” homeschooling with my five-year-old, my two-year-old was potty-training, my husband’s law firm was still getting off the ground, I was battling postpartum depression, and my blog had mushroomed into something far beyond what I’d envisioned requiring hours of effort each week to run.

Everything felt out of whack. I was overworked, overwhelmed, and exhausted — and I wasn’t doing a good job of being a wife, mom, homeschooler, homemaker, or a blogger. In addition, my health was suffering a great deal from the strain and fatigue of trying to juggle it all.

I knew something had to give… but what? I kept telling myself that if I just got more organized, pushed harder, and slept less I’d be able to find a way to do it all.

However, a better schedule, more productivity, or shorter nights wasn’t the magical fix. In fact, it was the exact opposite: I desperately needed to do less, have more margin in my schedule, and get more sleep at night.

It took me a few more months — and getting to the end of my rope physically and emotionally — for me to wake up to the fact that I needed to do an extreme paring down of my responsibilities in order to reclaim my health, find breathing room in my day, and start enjoying life more.

Thanks to my husband’s gentle yet persistent prodding, I finally accepted that I’m not superwoman, relinquished many things on my plate, and brought on some help. Since then, I have come to a beautiful place where I am enjoying life and don’t live everyday feeling stressed and frazzled.

What brought about the change? Well, here are four things:

1. Delete the Non-Essentials

Picture a book that had no margins — the words completely filled each and every page of the entire book. Would that book be an easy read? No, it would feel chaotic and busy, probably even overwhelming.

It’s the same with our lives. If we don’t allow white space to breathe and refresh, but instead pack every moment of every day full to the brim with to-do’s and projects, our lives will feel chaotic, disorderly, and exhausting.

You’ve got to set your foot down, create boundaries, and say no. This doesn’t mean you always say no to everything and it doesn’t always mean that you say no every time. But it does mean that you realize that you are the one calling the shots. If an opportunity or idea is going to put extra strain on your home and family, you are the boss and you have the final say.

It’s easy to forget this and start feeling obligated to people and projects, so I encourage you to ask yourself a few hard questions before committing to something:

  • “When am I going to find the time to do this?”
  • “Is this going to take time and effort away from my most important priorities?”
  • “What is going to be the return on my investment of time?”

Never commit to something without careful consideration. I promise that you won’t regret it.

2. Make Sleep a Priority

For years, I burned the candle at both ends thinking I had to because my to-do list was so long. But here’s what I found: Burning the candle at both ends doesn’t make you superwoman; it makes you exhausted.

Believe it or not, I’ve learned I actually get a lot more done when I’m well rested, plus I feel a lot calmer about life in general. So I’ve been trying to go to be earlier and, on the nights when I don’t go to bed early, I let myself sleep in for an extra hour (or even two!). It makes such a difference in my productivity — and in my overall demeanor.

Do everything you can to make sleep a priority. Let the dishes sit in the sink, turn off the computer and go to bed as soon as you can at night. I know the temptation is great to use that quiet, uninterrupted time to tackle your list of 997 things you haven’t gotten to in the last six months, but your body needs sleep.

If you can’t go to bed earlier, try squeezing in a nap in the afternoon or on the weekends when your husband is home. Sometimes even a 10 or 15-minute catnap can do wonders!

3. Give Yourself Grace

You might be able to juggle a lot of things and do a good job of it, but you aren’t nor will you ever be superwoman. One thing that has really helped me to is intentionally set the bar lower when it comes to what I expect of myself. It’s wonderful to challenge myself, but it’s also important to realize that I’m never going to get everything done. There will always be another project that needs to be completed.

Instead of beating myself up over how far I have left to go, I’m learning to focus on being excited about the progress I’m making. Because moving forward — even at a microscopic rate — is still moving forward.

In addition, I’ve become a fan of hiring on help. Now, before you click away from this post thinking there’s no way you could afford to bring on some extra help, consider a few ideas:

Could you find a little wiggle room in your family’s budget to hire a young girl from church or your local community to come over for a few hours every other week? It might be worth other sacrifices to make this a priority.

If that’s not feasible, what about swapping afternoons with another mom once a week — one week, she takes your kids. The next week, you take hers. Knowing you have an afternoon off every other week may do wonders for your sanity!

If you don’t think bringing on regular help like that would really be helpful, think of other ways you could simplify your life: maybe getting pizza one night a week to give you a night off from cooking. Or paying for a menu-planning service subscription. Or using boxed cake mix for that upcoming birthday party… give yourself grace to cut some corners and not feel like you’re failing your family if you don’t make everything yourself from scratch!

4. Enjoy Your Family

Your babies are only little once. Take time to just enjoy them. To stare into their faces. To soak up their cuddles and smiles and giggles and firsts. Stop and listen to them, talk with them, love on them. Cherish them.

And don’t neglect your husband, either. You might not have a lot of energy left at the end of the day, but at least meet him at the door with a kiss and a smile. Ask him how he’s doing. Make time for him.

This stuff is so much more important than a clean house or an organized kitchen. And if you’ve got to choose between cleaning or cuddling, always choose the cuddling. At the end of your life, you won’t regret it!

18110681 Today is the release of Crystal’s new book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life! It’s a wonderful book and highly motivating and practical. I have no doubt you will find it helpful and encouraging!

To get yourself a copy, just head to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite bookseller!

To read more about it, head here!

 

Love, Sarah Mae

P.S. You’re going to want to click over to MoneySavingMom.com today because Crystal is giving away a WASHER AND DRYER! I know. Whoa. So, click here and you can enter for a chance to win!

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5 Tips for Getting Through the First Few Years of Motherhood

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I was checking out of the grocery store the other day, with my children, and the only thing going through my mind was the song, “I Will Survive.”

I couldn’t shake the song, so I finally looked at the woman standing behind me in line and said, “I will survive, that song? Should be every moms anthem.”

I smiled.

She didn’t.

I was sweating, because, well, checking out with my three kids and it was that kind of grocery trip.

We made it to car and all was well. But I still decided that day that “I Will Survive” is a mom’s anthem. At least those three words, because I’m pretty sure the rest is about love gone wrong. Or something like that.

Anyway.

What I’m saying is: Moms, you will survive.

Here are some tips to help you do just that.

Click on over to (in)courage to read my 5 tips for getting through those tired years! I’m also giving away some goodies there!

Love, SM

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