Moms of Little Ones, Hang in There! The Best is Yet to Come!

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Today was a glorious day.

I sat on a big white blanket under a glorious sky and watched as my children fished, bicycled around a park, and played. But I didn’t always watch. Some of the time I lied down, closed my eyes, and enjoyed the sun warming my face. My husband sat on a bench and read a book.

The kids played and they were fine and I didn’t have to watch them the whole time. I didn’t have to chase after them. I didn’t have to entertain them.

Every now and then my oldest would come over and sit with me and we’d laugh about something or talk or just rest together. It was wonderful.

I kept thinking how much I wanted to tell moms of little ones, “It gets better!” The kind of better where you can not only breathe and relax on a beautiful day, but that your kids are your friends.

Not only will you not have to watch them every minute, not only will you get to close your eyes under the sun, not only will you be able to get a full night sleep, you will be able to enjoy a sweet friendship with your child. A friendship where you have actual conversations and share opinions and personality and tenderness and giggles. It is wild and awesome and such a gift.

So here it is, moms of little ones: It gets better! Your time is coming. Hang in there. The best is yet to come.

Love, SM

P.S. If you’re in the desperate stage of mothering, this might help. ;)

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Dear Parents, Do This For Your Children (Before It’s Too Late)

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Making memories with my beautiful Ella

A couple of weeks ago I read a post on Facebook from a friend of mine that so moved me that I decided to act. She talked about losing her father and all the things she wished she had of him to remember him by. As I read her words, I realized that I don’t want to take anything for granted, especially my life. What if something happened to me, would my children have pictures and recordings to remember me by, to see and listen to if I can’t be with them? So often I take pictures or videos of my children, but I don’t get in them, usually because I think I look terrible and don’t want to be recorded. But the thing is, our kids don’t care about that; they just want us, mess and all.

Because my friend’s post so impacted me, and caused me to get on the ball with intentional memory making, I asked her if I could share her post with you in its entirety and she said yes.

Please welcome my beautiful friend Sarah Jessica Farber

Dear Parent Friends,

Here is what you should know. I got 23 years, 2 months, and 11 days with my dad, and they were not enough. Forever, of course, is not enough – all of our parents leave us too soon. I was reminded of this first thing this morning, when I got a text from a friend saying she was crying. My email had the why: our mutual friend has stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. All I can think about are her two little boys. So…

Here is what I wish I had, since I don’t have my dad:

I wish I had his voice, recorded, preferably telling the kind of jokes and stories that my mom would scold him for. I wish I could hear him pronounce human “yoo-man” one last time, and wrinkle my nose at the awkward sound.

I wish I had video of him, doing anything. Even talking on the phone to his best friend while watching golf on TV would be great. He’d call Jesse “honey” and Jesse would call him “dear” and they’d gossip and talk about their motorcycles and who knows what else and it would put me to sleep. I’d love to hear that again, to be bored by the mundane conversation, to see his quirks captured on camera.

And photos, I wish I had more of them. I have precious few-he was behind the camera a lot, and didn’t much like having his picture taken. But what I wouldn’t give for a picture from the early 90s that isn’t the incredibly awkward family photo where Alex is the only one smiling and my lips are totally chapped.

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Most of all, I wish I had his stories. God, he could tell a tale. Some of them were embellished, but the strangest ones were all true. I still don’t know how he ended up on the Kennedy’s yacht but danged if there isn’t a picture of him on the Honey Fitz hanging up at mom’s house. And I wish I knew more about his time in Korea in the Peace Corps. I have the fantastic picture with his mutton chop sideburns and a bunch of Korean people who are strangers to me. All I know is they were his students at the university. That story will remain unwritten.

I want you all to tell your kids your stories. Write them. Let them video you. Use the awesome StoryCorps app – it will help. Your children can interview you.  And get in the pictures – get a selfie stick if you must, but take pictures with your kids.  Have pictures taken.

Please do this for your children. 1 in 2 women will have cancer; 1 in 3 men will have cancer. Most will survive it, but no one lives forever. I beg of you, please think now about leaving your stories for your babies.

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P.S. Resources I have found since posting this on FB:

Recordable Storybooks from DaySpring and Hallamark.

Every Story Media - Turning your family stories and history into video.

You can read this post on Sarah’s blog as well by heading HERE.

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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. :)

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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

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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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