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!

18110681Today 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!

Affiliate links are used in this post.

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5 Tips for Getting Through the First Few Years of Motherhood

survive

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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3 Simple Ways to Memorize Scripture with Your Kids

memorize

Near the middle of the night he ran down to our bedroom.

Tears were slung all over his face; he was scared.

“Mom, please let me stay, the dreams won’t go away.”

“Okay, come on, cuddle in with me.”

He snuggled in close and I could see and feel his body moving up and down as he tried to control his breathing and his crying and his fear. I rubbed his head, and kissed it, and whispered assurances into his ear. I told him when he was afraid he could sing, but he said he couldn’t remember any songs. He finally calmed down and closed his eyes.

I had sung to him many times, how could he not remember a song? But really, the song I had in mind was one about not being afraid, and the truth is I didn’t teach it to him; I wasn’t intentional about it.

And like they seem to do, revelation swooped right into my soul: You have not prepared your son for battle.

Whoa.

Right there in the dark, I knew I had not been doing a good job of teaching my son scripture. How can he fight off the dark when he can’t remember the light?

Oh, my son knows the Word, but he forgets the words.

It is my job to tuck them in close, help him to remember.

If he knows the words, he can speak them, the truth, into the dark. I must prepare him.

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Ephesians 6:31-17, NIV

If you don’t have your sword in battle, you’re in trouble. My son will have a sword.

3 Ways to Teach Scripture to Our Children

1.  Commit to teaching them. I have thought about teaching my children scripture, but the truth is, over the last couple of years I have not put much effort into it. When they were little, before Caroline was born, I would sing them scripture all the time to tuck into their hearts. I’ve gotten lax. No more. Now, I have a plan.

2.  Start Small. I finally have a plan of action and it is simple: 12 scriptures a year, one a month. Our whole family is committed to learning just 12 scriptures this year. It doesn’t sound like much, but I know that I’m great at coming up with grand plans only to fail at them, so this year, baby steps. And hey, at the end of the year we’ll have sharpened our swords by 12 verses!

3.  Sing. Kids love to sing, and quite frankly, even though I stink at it, so do I. Just the other day as we were practicing our first verse of the year I decided to break out into a rap. My children thought it was hilarious, and the words began to stick. I’ve always found it easier to remember scripture by making up songs to it, and so this has been our preferred way of memorization (even though my husband says all our songs sound the same!). Click here to see an example of how we used a song to memorize the 10 Commandments.

For our first verse of the year, we have decided to memorize Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Before we began memorizing it, I read the verse in context and explained to my children what it meant. To set up a memorial stone of sorts, I ordered this print from DaySpring to hang on our wall:

bird-framed1

And today, this is the gift I’ll be giveaway to one of you (remember, I’m giving away gifts every day in honor of the one-year anniversary of Desperate. Enter yesterdays giveaway here)!

Giveaway!

To enter, just fill out the form below! (Email readers, click here to enter.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Love, Sarah Mae

P.S. My friend Brooke wrote a book called, Praying for Boys: Asking God for the Things They Need Most, and it just released TODAY! This will make a great resource as your learning scripture and praying for you’re children!

Affiliate links included in this post.

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One-Year Anniversary Celebration with Desperate Gift Set Giveaway!

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Happy Monday! :)

Today Sally and I are celebrating the one-year anniversary of the release of Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe

To celebrate, I will be having a giveaway here every day this week!

About Desperate:

“I just can’t be a mother today.”

If you’ve ever whispered those words to God in quiet desperation, you are not alone.

Desperate is for those who love their children to the depths of their souls but who have also curled up under their covers, fighting back tears, and begging God for help. It’s for those who have ever wondered what happened to all their ideals for what having children would be like. For those who have ever felt like all the “experts” have clearly never had a child like theirs. For those who have prayed for a mentor. For those who ever felt lost and alone in motherhood.

In Desperate you will find the story of one young mother’s honest account of the desperate feelings experienced in motherhood and one experienced mentor’s realistic and gentle exhortations that were forged in the trenches of raising her own four children.

If you’re tired and struggling as a mama, Desperate can help you…

  • see, through the honest words of a young mom in the thick of the little years, that you are not alone or crazy
  • get through the little years with grace and sanity (wisdom from Sally Clarkson, wise woman, mentor, and mama to four grown children)
  • affirm you as a mom instead of make you feel guilty
  • create and pursue a vision of perseverance in the good, daily work you are doing as a mother
  • answer specific parenting questions through the Q & A at the end of the book
  • encourage you through videos of Sarah Mae and Sally talking about each chapter (via QR codes at the end of each chapter)

Today’s Giveaway!

Today’s giveaway is a small group gift set to get you started in leading your own Desperate small group book study! The winner will receive 8 books plus the DVD with all the videos discussing each chapter. If you’ve never led a small group study, check out my post on How to Lead a Women’s Small Group Bible Study. And specifically for Desperate, you can download this Desperate Small Group Guide for FREE!

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“Powerful, captivating and gut-wrenchingly honest; if this superb book could get into the hands of every mom, our world would drastically change, for the good! It’s a new classic for a new generation.”

-Kristen Habermehl, Author & Speaker from MyHeartAtHome.com

To Enter

Just fill out the form below! (Email readers, click here to come to the site and enter.) Giveaway ends this Friday at 11:59pm EST!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Love, Sarah Mae

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