Tag Archives: parenting

Getting rid of the expectation of perfection

sabotage happiness


When I notice an underlying grouchiness in my spirit, a tendency to criticize all the people around me, that feeling that I can barely stand to be around anyone – then I know it’s time for me to do a little attitude-adjusting.

Lately, I’ve been feeling bristly. My kids have been accusing me of being too critical; they feel they can’t do anything right. They are bickering, fussing, pointing out each other’s every mistake. Sometimes I’m a little slow on the uptake because it just dawned on me this morning that they are nit-picking and tattling and criticizing because of the tone I am setting in our home. Oh, I know – they can behave that way all on their own with no help from me. Trust me! I know that. But negativity and criticism are contagious, and I’m afraid I am the one who started spreading it.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been a bit stingy with grace. Or rather – maybe I’ve been a bit lazy with actual instruction and guidance. So it felt like I was giving lots of grace and then their disobedience and arguing and sloppiness and disrespect piled on and piled on until I lost it. Sometimes this process took a couple hours or an entire afternoon, and sometimes it took fifteen minutes of spiraling out of control. As it turns out, ignoring bad behavior or horrible attitudes — hiding in my room to sip coffee and nibble on dark chocolate while reading a novel, pretending I don’t have six children — is not a feasible long-term parenting strategy. It’s also not grace.

Instead of patiently and methodically and gently teaching my children, I’ve expected perfect behavior. And then I’ve lost my ever-lovin’ mind when they haven’t delivered.

For some reason, I got it in my head that because I have told them their whole lives to handle conflict by kindly speaking to the person and then calmly coming to me if that doesn’t work, I expect they will always handle conflict this way. Because I always handle conflict in a calm, level-headed way. Right? Ha!

I want them to do their chores with no reminders and not ever forget to plug their phones in my room at bedtime. Yet I get busy and forget to pay a bill, and by December I’ll forget to sign a homework agenda several times a week! And, trust me, my kids are old enough to know I’m not perfect. And they are old enough to resent my double standards.

When I expect perfection from my children, I rob our relationship of joy. You see, nothing can kill a relationship like the expectation of perfection. And, more than anything else, I want authentic relationships with my kids. Every time I hold up perfection as the standard and withhold grace, I sabotage my true happiness, my true joy in knowing and loving my children.

When I expect perfection, my children feel the need to hide and guard entire parts of themselves for fear of my criticism. But when I create an atmosphere of grace, my kids feel safe to be themselves in my presence.

So this morning, I am praying for grace to wash over me and fill up every crevice of my dry, crusty, critical heart. I want to soak in grace so that I can pour out grace, so that I can re-set the tone in my home.


4 Things Teens Want From Their Parents



campI spent last week with around 200 young people. Every morning, I sat around drinking coffee, listening to a group of 20 teenagers discuss things like minimum wage, abortion, poverty, same-sex marriage, welfare reform, the legalization of marijuana, and society’s standards of beauty. In the afternoons, I sat in a circle with 16-year-old girls and talked with them about what stresses them, what they love to do, whom they go to for advice, and what is important to them.

Every summer I spend a week at this camp. And every summer I feel like some sort of undercover agent, a mom infiltrating a society of teenagers and learning their secrets — which aren’t very secret at all, by the way. I like to think I’m giving back to West Virginia 4-H, the program which contributed so much to making me who I am today. But really, I am the recipient. I am the student learning from these young teachers. Spending a week with them and learning from them makes me a better mom.

Yesterday, I realized I’ve been selfish. I’ve kept this information to myself. Maybe you, my bloggy friends, need to learn from these young people too. Maybe we all need these reminders. So here goes —

First, I want to tell you that I’m always so impressed with these young adults. Sometimes the comment section of the internet can make you want to stab your eyes out with a fork so you’d never have to read another comment section again. The hatefulness and harshness and ugliness of the comment section can make us lose all faith in humanity. My morning discussion class at camp was a beautiful, lovely antidote to the internet comment section. These young men and women talked about hard things, controversial things. We boldly stepped right out into potential conversation minefields, but these kids gently and intelligently peeled layers and layers away to get to the core of the issues. They disagreed kindly and with respect. They asked questions and then truly listened to each other with an eagerness to learn. And they made me laugh a lot. This week, I was reminded that it’s easier to discuss hot-button issues when you share a sense of humor and laugh together. 

As I spent time in the discussion class and with my group of girls and one-on-one with campers and at meals with these young people, I listened hard. I listened for what was deep in the words they said. And I came away with four main things kids want or need from their parents.

1. Our kids want us to put down our phones and really listen to them. I hear adults talk about how kids these days are always looking at their phones, but we are just as guilty — maybe even more guilty. Our kids need eye contact with us. They want to know they are more important than whatever we are doing on our phones – more important than a status update, more important than Bejeweled or Candy Crush or whatever. I am sad to say that I’m guilty of this too often, but I am trying to do better. I’m trying to put down the phone or close the laptop or stop whatever I am doing and look my kid in the eye whenever he wants to talk to me. The teenagers I spent the past week with want to talk to their parents, but they don’t want to compete with Words with Friends or Twitter.

2. Our kids need us to provide downtime for them and allow them to say No. Teenagers are stressing out about their AP classes and sports and band and choir and college admissions tests. Their schedules are full. They worry about having enough time to do the piles of homework they have in addition to all their extracurricular activities. They need us to tell them over and over and over again that we only want them to do the things they LOVE and that it’s OK to say NO to everything else. They need us to give them time to sleep or play board games with the family or watch funny videos and laugh together. Our kids feel a lot of stress and pressure, and they need us to help alleviate that instead of add to it.

3. Our kids need to know that we love them, no matter what. They need to know that if they fail algebra or choose not to play a sport or sit on the bench the entire season, we will love them. If they disagree with us, if they get pregnant or have an abortion, if they are gay, if they smoke pot, if they go off to college and become Calvinists, if they drop out of band, if they get a tattoo, if they don’t get a part in the play — no matter what, we will love them. Our kids need us to tell them often that our love for them is not based on their performance. They aren’t earning our love. It’s free and plentiful, and they have our love simply because they belong to us. The young people I know want to please their parents, and they are worried about letting their parents down. We have to assure them and reassure them and reassure them that we love them. No matter what.

4. Our kids need us to be honest about our own shortcomings. When we make mistakes, our kids need us to own those mistakes and apologize. They need to see that we are human, that we fail and learn from our failures. They need to see us humbly confess when we have messed up. Our kids want us to tell them we’re sorry when we are wrong. When we are too proud to admit our own humanity to our children, we rob them of an authentic relationship with us and we rob them of the opportunity to learn how to humbly grow and learn from our mistakes. The teenagers I know want genuine relationships with their parents. And they can’t have genuine relationships with parents who aren’t honest about their own shortcomings.

So there you have it — the four big things I heard from young people last week. The good news is — friends, we can do this!

We can put down our phones and look our kids in the eyes and listen.

We can give our teenagers downtime and let them know we don’t expect them to do forty million extra activities and make straight A’s in every AP class their school offers.

We can tell our kids we love them often. We can praise who they are more than we praise what they do. We can straight up tell them we will love them if they flunk math or score on their own team’s goal or squeak their way right out of concert band.

And we can be honest about our mess-ups. We can apologize when we lose our cool or when we overreact. We can tell our kids about that speeding ticket we got or about the time we missed curfew.

We can do this. These four things are totally do-able, Parents.

Let’s start today – pick one of these things to do right away. Then please let us know in the comment section what specific ways you’re doing these things for your kids. Let’s use this comment section to help each other out and encourage each other. Let’s be like the young people in my class and listen with an eagerness to learn from each other.


People Skills


I’m writing this on my phone. And this is my view. So if I don’t make any sense, you’ll understand why.

It’s hard to make sense with this cuteness distracting you —


At breakfast Sunday morning we were discussing popularity — not a bad, go-with-the-crowd-no-matter-what popularity. Maybe what we were talking about would better be described as a people-skills popularity.

Actually, first we were answering a question from the Question Jar. What is your greatest ability or talent? Jackson answered, Making other people happy. Making people smile.

And we all agreed with him. It’s not that he is a people-pleaser, though he may have inherited a touch of that from me. Jackson genuinely loves people, not throngs of people but people individually. (He noted that difference himself.) And, in turn, people love Jackson.

At field day, as I supervised the bounce house line, one little girl saw my nametag and excitedly exclaimed, “Are you Jackson Hatcher’s mom?!? He is so popular!!” And, for a fourth grader at his elementary school, he is.

So around the breakfast table, we discussed popularity and why people love Jackson. He isn’t popular in the way some kids are popular. He isn’t a great athlete; he doesn’t make the best grades; he doesn’t wear the latest fashions. No Elite socks halfway up his shins. No American Eagle underwear waistband an inch above his shorts. He doesn’t even have a cool haircut. His sister who plans to begin cosmetology classes next year practices on him. (Please feel free to take notes on my excellent parenting skills – yes, I let my daughter who has never actually taken classes in how to cut hair practice on her brothers. Because it’s free.)

Anyway, my theory is that Jackson is popular not because of who he is or what he does, but because of how he makes the other kids feel when they are around him. He truly wants people to feel happy. He pays attention to people. He listens. He shares. He is kind.

When a little girl was returning to school after dealing with some hard things, the entire classroom of children agreed in a class meeting that Jackson should sit beside her upon her return. Because he would make her feel welcomed and happy.

A couple of my boys had this teacher for kindergarten. She had this gift of making every student feel special, of making every parent feel like the favorite parent. When she spoke with you, you felt like you were her top priority. I remember talking with another teacher about this, and we agreed this must be how Jesus-on-earth was.

I bet each one of Jesus’ disciples felt like he was the favorite. I think every person Jesus spoke with had His undivided attention and felt special and important.

Obviously I am not saying Jackson is perfect like Jesus. But I am saying I think Jackson shows Christlikeness in the kind of friend he is to his classmates. He is popular because he makes each of his friends and classmates feel valued and important and special.

Oh, there are times he doesn’t. There are times he is selfish or distracted. There was the time he got caught up in the crowd and ended up making another child feel bullied. He’s not perfect. But he does have a gift, and it is really cool to see.

When he gets to middle school, the star athlete popularity or the cool clothes popularity might win out temporarily, and Jackson’s popularity may fade for a while. But I have no doubt that this gift of making people happy, of making people feel special and important and valued will be a huge part of the impact he makes in this world.

And in this way, I want to be more like Jackson when I grow up.


On realizing I have three teenagers . . .


Tomorrow, my three oldest children leave with the church youth group for a big, ten-day trip to Florida. Because my three oldest children are teenagers. Teenagers. Y’all! Seriously! Do you get what this means??!! It means — half my children are teenagers. And the others aren’t far behind. Griffin, the BABY!, for heaven’s sake!, is eight-and-a-half. Y’all! I am on the downward slope of raising children.

Excuse me while I go curl into the fetal position and rock back and forth in the corner.

PAUSE! I want to hit the pause button. Just for a little while. I do try to mentally hit the pause button or at least the pause-and-soak-it-in button. Last night, I forced all six of them to sit and watch a movie together — one of those feel-good, family movies on Netflix. I popped popcorn, and we all snuggled on the brown sectional couch for 99 minutes. Pausing time so I could have all my kiddos gathered close before three of them take off on a summer adventure with 50 friends. Those gathered-in, chicks-all-under-my-wings moments are precious these days.


It seems like yesterday I was in the thick of babies and toddlers and preschoolers. I was changing diapers and singing nursery rhymes and teaching ABCs and reminding everyone to say please and thank you and use their words. And now, here we are. Just like that. Jackson recently asked me if I know who Edward Snowden is, and then he clearly articulated his opinion about the entire situation. Last week, Griffin explained how his friends often debated the Bible and God-stuff during lunch. All of my boys have recently started shouting Safety! after they fart before the brothers can yell out Doorknob! and start punching the heck out of their arms. **Ladies, in case you don’t have brothers or sons, this is an actual game teenage boys play. I am so proud of my thirteen-year-old son for introducing his younger brothers to this classy pastime.


Lauren is half-way through high school, and Rach is right behind her. We’re talking SATs and ACTs and potential colleges. Sometimes we sit up late and laugh and talk, or we watch chick-flicks together. And sometimes we disagree about appropriate bathing suit styles or shorts lengths or how often a girl really needs Starbucks.

I am learning how to loosen my grasp and relinquish control while still loving fiercely.

This is not an easy thing for a momma to learn. But the next ten days will be more practice for me. Today, it’s been like my emotions are in a blender. All the feelings whirring around and around. So much excitement for all the fun they will have. A little bit of jealousy that they’ll have so much fun without me there to watch all the fun they’ll be having. A touch of worry and anxiety that something bad will happen while they’re out from under my care. (As if I have the power to prevent bad stuff from happening when they’re in the same zip code! Ha! Hello! Silas and his open-fractured arm would have something to say about that!) Oh, and an empty sort of sadness because I will truly miss them. Ok, I won’t miss the eye-rollling or the sighing or the Really, Mom? Really? reactions. But I will miss them. So, so much.


Most days, I feel like I am so not ready for this. For children with feet bigger than mine. For children who drive and drink coffee. For children who have intelligent opinions about Edward Snowden, for goodness’ sake! But it doesn’t matter if I’m ready or not. It’s happening. They’re growing. They’re becoming themselves, people totally separate from me. They’re going on fun vacations without me. At least three of them are. Tomorrow. And I’m thrilled and proud and terrified and happy and sad and worried and excited.

Parenting to the Heart

I wrote this in June of 2008. And I sure need the reminder today. 

Just in case anyone else needs this reminder right now too. . . 

This morning, in his Father’s Day message, our pastor mentioned that our parenting should not be about performance.  We shouldn’t discipline to our children’s performance; we should aim for their hearts.

Now, I know this.  I really do.  But sometimes I forget.  The past couple weeks I have been so tired and so overwhelmed with my to-do list.  I got way behind on laundry and cleaning a few weeks ago and because of travels and more laundry and some sickness I haven’t caught up yet.  The giant mess in my kids’ room and the overflowing laundry hampers stress me out.  Stress and exhaustion and six children in an apartment are not a great combination.  So I desperately needed that reminder this morning.

Even when I know better, it’s easy to fall back into the bad habit of performance-based parenting.  It’s especially easy when I’m stressed and tired.  “I want you to obey because I said so.  And I want you to obey perfectly.  And I want you to obey now.  And I don’t want to have to think about your intentions or your motives or showing you grace or how I’m supposed to be building you up and showing you overwhelming, unconditional love.  I just want you to obey so my life will be easier.”

When I’m tired and stressed, I get angry too easily.  And then I respond from anger and not from love and certainly not from the perspective of forming the character of my children.  I just am irritated that I’m inconvenienced and that I have more work and that I’m dealing with the same exact problem for the sixth time in the past hour.  And I forget that my irritability and horrible example will just result in more work as the same irritability and anger shows up in my children’s attitudes.


So I needed the attitude adjustment this morning.  I’ll probably need it again tomorrow morning.  I’m slow that way.  Fortunately, I know from experience that the Holy Spirit will whisper reminders to me in the days to come.

Aim for the heart of my children.  Look for their motives and intentions.  Praise them liberally.  Don’t lump them all together and take out my frustration with one’s behavior on everyone else.  Show forgiveness quickly.  Look them in the eye.  Listen to them when they want to talk.  Have fun with them.  Laugh often.  Hug them.  Remember their ages and set my expectations accordingly.  Respond with love.  Expect mistakes and misjudgments and misbehavior; they are still learning.  Spend time remembering the moment each was born and the overwhelming joy I felt.  Keep in mind the Golden Rule.  Keep in mind 1 Corinthians 13.  Love them.  Love them.  Love them.  


#TBT ~ Distraction

A ThrowBack Thursday post for you. I wrote this in October of 2007

soccer4This was just before a game, but it happened in the middle of games too. 

Soccer season is winding down. We’ve had four children playing for the past month. The girls play on a team on Mondays and Wednesdays and two of the boys play on a team on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Those Tuesday, Thursday games are quite entertaining. Kindergarteners and First Graders. If you haven’t had a good laugh in a while, go watch 5 and 6 year olds play soccer.

Last night, I stood next to a mother and father and we laughed for most of the game. Some of the children spent more time rolling around on the ground than standing up playing. At one point, three kids kicked at the ball. They kicked each other, but none of them made contact with the ball. One little boy is fascinated with the chalk lines on the field. He spends the majority of each game walking the lines, stomping and watching the chalk fly. Occasionally, he bends over and rubs the chalk with his hands, covering his palms in white chalk. One little boy was standing on the sidelines, waiting for his turn in the game when the ball came near. Quickly, he ran on the field and picked up the ball with his hands. He was so excited to touch the ball that he completely forgot the rules, nevermind that he wasn’t even supposed to be playing at that moment.


soccer3It’s important to stop for teammate hugs in the middle of a game. 

It reminds me of my older son’s, Caleb’s, first season. He played defender, which really means he stood around near the goal and his coach hoped he wouldn’t do too much harm while a couple little boys actually played soccer around him. Caleb loved to play in the dirt. He dug so many holes in the field that first season it looked like a groundhog had made his home there. Ever the class-clown, Caleb also loved to make his teammates laugh. So he fell down often. On purpose. Just to get a laugh. His favorite part of every game, though, was to lift his jersey up over his face and wave his arms wildly while screaming, “Who turned out the lights?” It was a sure-fire way to make his teammate Max double over laughing. All while the opposing team was racing past them with the ball ready to score a goal any second. Max’s competitive parents weren’t Caleb’s biggest fans.

Watching these little kids get so totally distracted from the game can be very funny. It does make me laugh to see the goalie climbing the goal posts or waving to his sister when he should be ready to defend the goal. They are little and they’re still figuring out the game. Their distraction is cute sometimes.

silassoccertotal cuteness

But I’ve been thinking. I tend to face life and my relationship with God the same way these little guys play soccer. And it’s really not funny or cute at all.

I have a tendency to get distracted. I watch the sidelines; I watch the other players; I obsess over whether my teammates like me. I focus on something totally unimportant, like the dirt or the chalk. I don’t keep my head in the game, so to speak.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “. . . forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

Paul maintained his focus. He pressed toward the goal. He didn’t stop to play in the dirt or compare himself to his teammates. He didn’t stop to wave to his mommy on the sidelines or stare at the big dog somebody’s dad brought to the game. Paul did not approach life like a Rookie League soccer game. (I know, it’s a very deep, profound, theological thought. It will probably shock you that I haven’t been to seminary.)

I don’t want to approach life like a Rookie League soccer game. I want to maintain my focus. I want to keep my eyes on the prize. I want to press toward the goal. I want to “lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” (Phil. 3:12) I want to press forward to maturity and perfection. I want to keep my focus on Christ’s Kingdom.

How about you?



from a Working Mom ~ what she wants you to know

Yesterday, I shared with you the Top 7 Annoying Things To Say To A Stay-At-Home Mom. As I said then, annoying and hurtful comments certainly aren’t reserved for SAHMs. Today’s guest-blogger is my sister-in-law, Julie, who has worked outside the home for many years. Julie and I both agree that the Mommy Wars is mostly media sensationalism, but we know that there are some attitudes and misunderstandings that feed the Mommy Wars notion. We believe healthy dialogue and listening to each others’ perspectives are always good things. So in that spirit, I share with you Julie’s perspective, in her own words —-


I sat in my boss’s cubical trying to explain. I liked my job on his ministry team, but I had been there for two years, and there wasn’t room for promotion. The marketing team had an opening and they were interested in having me interview for a full time position. This position also was going to pay almost double what I was making. It would be a great opportunity for me to learn and it would challenge me to grow and break into a new field that held my interest.

Knowing that I had been trying my hand at part-time employment after our 2nd child was born, he said something that day that cut me like a knife –

“But Julie, who will raise your babies?”

A while back when my sister-in-law, Jenn, put it out there on her Facebook page that she was looking for a working mama to write about the most annoying comments they have ever heard, I knew I had to write this post.

You see, for 17 years I have worked outside the home and I’ve heard it all. From well-meaning people who say, “It must be nice to have all of that extra income!” To which I want to respond, “Yes, our family is just rolling in the bank. Um we live in Colorado, hello, it’s not cheap” To not-so-well-meaning questions that, when my children were younger, sounded like “How do you leave your kids with a stranger every day?” To which I wanted to respond with an instant eye-roll and “You know it’s great. I’ve found a great serial killer for a sitter!”

My kids are older now and I’ve matured. I don’t get nearly as defensive as I used to feeling like I have to justify my path as a mother who has chosen to work outside of the home. But instead of focusing on all of the negative things that have been said to me through the years, things that have also been said to countless women who choose to work outside of the home, I realized this week it was the one line said to me by my old boss 14 years ago that encapsulated them all.

Why was it such a blow to me? Why does it still cause a bit of anger and hurt to rise up in my gut when I recall that conversation?

I was in my twenties, and I had two beautiful kiddos, a supportive husband, and a growing faith that I was using my gifts and abilities to help families—for Jesus. I was eager, and excited to give back to a ministry that I felt was making a difference in the world. And what was I getting back in return?

Guilt and shame.

It wasn’t so much what he said, it was how he said it. Condescending and self-righteous. Looking back now I realize, he was a supervisor losing a valued team member. He was going to have to find a replacement. I know this guy. He is a good guy who loves Jesus and his family. He didn’t mean to hurt me. He was speaking from years of what I believe is an attitude that many evangelicals have adopted. They put their personal cultural preferences over what the Bible actually says about certain subjects.

This is often played out in the cultural Mommy Wars. Jenn and I agree that the Mommy Wars are often brought to you by the media hype looking for a good catfight on programs like The View or The Talk. Things aren’t really that bad between my friends and family when this subject comes up. But one place that I have found the Mommy Wars raging the hottest is within evangelical circles. It almost feels like there’s a select few trying to hold on to a sense of what once was or an unrealistic ideal that just isn’t possible in society today.

I am older now and I quit allowing myself to feel guilt for working outside of the home. I made my choice because it was God who opened up doors for me. By feeling like I had to justify my path, I was allowing this false guilt to creep into my thinking. I was cheapening His work in my life. Often this guilt and shame from desiring to work outside the home would come from what I thought others expected of me. When I stopped allowing myself to be manipulated by this way of feeling, I realized that I have gifts and abilities that I can humbly say that the Lord has used through the years in some pretty incredible ways.

I am often asked now that the kids are teenagers, did they suffer as children? I can honestly answer “no” because the spirit in which I took my responsibilities was forged in being obedient to God’s leading in my life. The fact that suffer is a word actually used in this conversation is crazy talk to me. Were there times that I have been off-balanced? Worked too hard? Didn’t give them as much attention as they needed? Yes, yes, and yes! But any mother will attest to being guilty at some point of all of these things. No matter if they choose to work outside the home or not.

You know what? Every mother I know works. And you know what else? We need to stop arguing about how and where she does it. Period.

For the life of me I just can’t understand why we all just can’t agree that Mommy Wars wrapped in the Biblical justification for whatever side you fall on is just nonsense.

We must stop this craziness for our daughters, for our nieces, for our granddaughters. They are watching and we have a great opportunity. Let’s not blow it.

So to help end the negativity surrounding this subject, I wanted to do my part. I want to share with you five positive observations that have been said or done for me—or I have learned over the years as a working mother. Now that I am older, I use them as guide to help me support other mothers, no matter if they work outside the home or not.

If you have other mamas around you, I challenge you to think about some of these examples, and use them to love on the women God has put in your path.

Aunt Sue
Whenever we visit my husband’s family I often find myself having these beautiful conversations with his Aunt Sue. I’m always attracted to talking with her because she has this way of drawing you into conversation in such a loving way. When I was in 20’s and working with babies, I noticed right away that the way she would always make a point to ask me how my work was going. What did I like most about my job? What I was learning? She still does this today. Aunt Sue models how I should take an interest in all mothers around me. She showed me through her actions and words how to see past the stereotypes and ask about the individual. The world needs more women like Aunt Sue.

Treat It Like A Season
After being hurt so badly by my former boss, I sought advice from a Vice President in the company who just happened to be one of the few women in leadership. She wisely looked at me across from her desk after this incident 14 years ago and said something I have never forgotten. Treat this like a season Julie. Don’t be angry. Instead, step back and ask yourself to do something intentional. Look at this as a season. One day, God may ask you to be at home. One day you may have to work more. Treat it all like a season. So when you see a mom who is struggling, hurt or torn, remind her it will not be forever. Point her to being faithful in the season, and to the one who has her there. Do this because time will eventually change the landscape for her. This advice helped me get the focus off of other’s opinions of me, and see the big picture. I am forever grateful for this lady’s ability to redirect my thinking.

If Mama Ain’t Happy Ain’t Nobody Happy
Another great lady and mentor friend of mine gave me this sage advice one day when I was communicating how much joy I felt when I worked, but I felt guilty because, you know I should feel guilty. She told me about her own mother who was very accomplished. How she would get the “guilties” and stay home with the kids when she caved into external cultural pressure. When her mother was home, my mentor told me it was terrible. Her lovely mother would get cranky and frustrated. My dear friend told me, her mother was the happiest when she worked, and that she set the whole tone for their family. I never forgot what my mentor then said to me. If Mama Ain’t Happy Julie, then Ain’t Nobody Happy. So work if it makes you happy. Stay home if it makes you happy. Your kids will reap the benefits of your being in tune with who God made you to be.

Remember The Broad Appeal of The Proverbs 31 Lady
I realize that every Christian woman wants to see herself in this lady. That is why she is there. And you know what else about her? She has a broad appeal. She could be a work from home kind of gal, or a market place chick. Either way you see her, she is a class act. And as long as I don’t put her in a box (I think God wouldn’t like that—that is why she is in Proverbs) she is a fantastic example to all women. No matter where they choose to work.

Refuse To Allow Work (Of Any kind) To Define Who You Are
For years I allowed my work to define my worth. You say well of course don’t do that, but I will challenge any woman, it is easier said than done. Women like to point to men who are most defined by their jobs. But I think women are just as guilty. And it sneaks up on us. From the CEO mom on the cover of Working Mother to the homeschooling mama who just wants a clean house. Our roles and jobs are so personal and shape who we are that they sometimes become our whole identity. We must keep in mind that these “jobs” here on earth are all temporary. We must first and foremost find our identity in the Lord. Jobs will change, family situations change and if this is the identity we have built for ourselves it is a farce. I’ve learned this lesson more times than I would care to, so I share it with you. Go deep with your work and with your family, but always allow God to be your source and vision.

So folks lets keep it positive. End the Mommy War today. Be sensitive to all moms around you, because we need the support no matter what path we choose.

Julie Abel loves Jesus, her husband Jeff, her kids Jacob (16) and Jessa (14), and their sheepadoodle Monroe. She has worked the last 19 years for Christian universities, in large corporate ministries, small affiliate ministries, and locally focused nonprofits. She and her husband own a consulting business, Rocky Mountain Media Group. You can check out her journey of leaving her suburban life in Colorado Springs behind to live in Estes Park, CO through her blog JulieAbel.com Work and Family.