For the Mama Who Is Scared for Our Country

There sure are a lot of worried mamas out there.

So many mamas fretting for their children. Mamas fearing what the current election will bring and how it will change their babies' world.

There is worrying on all sides of the fence. Red and blue and independent mamas are crying real tears - dreading “what ifs.”

We wait to hear election results and my Facebook feed is filled with you, dear mamas. Mamas having panic attacks. Mamas cuddling kittens and eating ice cream to distract themselves. Mamas unfriending each other and being angry about people unfriending each other. 

I want to hug all of you. I want to say, “Yes, things will be hard. That is how the future is. It always brings some pain, no matter who our leaders are. But it brings joy too. So much joy, sweet mamas. Look at those worried faces looking up at you."

Because really tonight I am thinking most about the children. All of your beautiful God-given gifts. They see you worrying. They hear the discussions around the dinner table. When you are scared, they are scared too.

If you are walking with Jesus, you know Who is really in charge. You know that no crazy politics can dethrone Him.


He has you on His mind, and He has eternity as your plan. He loves those little people in your house far more than you ever can. 

So for those babies, wipe your tears and bake cookies. Read stories and sing songs. Find the beautiful things. Look for them, even if it takes a while. I promise they are there.

I took my baby to vote today. His very first vote in a Federal election. I really didn’t envision it this way when he made these seven-year-old election reform suggestions. But here we are.

He has a say in his country. He may not like his choices, and I may not like mine, but I am thankful we have the privilege of having a part to play.

It was a gray dripping day. The flowers in the front yard were still lovely. The kitten was still curious. The world was still beautiful.

If you are passionate about politics and want to get involved to make a difference, please please do. We need you. 

And if all you feel right now is overwhelmed, just love the people right in front of you. The biggest most beautiful change you can make in the world is to really love the people right in front of you.

So on this election night, as we await the news of who will be the next President of the United States, I come back to what I remind myself of over and over:

Choose love.

Find beauty.

You will change the world.

Stand Firm - The Importance of Sound Theology

Theology is for university types, right? 

Old white men in their ivory towers, wearing cardigans, smoking pipes, and using terms no one understands.

Nah, you know I don't believe that.

Simply put, theology is "the study of the nature of God and religious belief." If you read your Bible, you are immersing yourself in theology.

But sometimes, especially when you are a new believer, even things in the Bible can seem confusing. Certainly all the voices clamoring for your attention on the Internet (including mine) can make things confusing! 

How do we deal with this? How do we know what is right?

Good theology is the fruit of study and of reliable sources. It is worth your time to really pay attention to your theology and make sure that what you believe aligns with the Word of God.

At Do Not Depart this month our theme is "Why Sound Theology Matters for Every Woman." The writing team has taken turns addressing different reasons why it makes a difference for you to think through what you believe.

Today I am writing about how good theology helps you to stand firm. Here is a glimpse...

When I was a young believer, I was both passionately committed, and continuously confused.
I wanted more than anything to follow Jesus and walk in His ways, but I had almost no Bible knowledge. I would hear someone talk on Christian radio, or see a sermon on TV, and not know whether what they were saying was true. I’d have conversations with people of varying Christian backgrounds, and their positions would contradict. Who was right?
Then I would go grocery shopping at the health food store, and see New Age books, and talk with non-Christians, and some of the things they said made sense to me. What was going on?!
Read the rest of my post on standing firm at Do Not Depart. Stand firm sisters!

When You Are Worn Out, This is the Habit to Focus On

Are you worn out, sister?

Are the kids too needy, the days over scheduled and the house trashed?

You need a little Jesus, don'tcha? Nah - a lot of Jesus.

How are your quiet times going? Not going so much? Yeah, I get it.

It is a constant battle isn't it? To be in the world but not of it, to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus... it's a daily struggle.

When my kids were young, and I knew I was going to homeschool, I became enamored of the writings of nineteenth century educator Charlotte Mason. I loved her gentle approach to teaching young children. But I was most impressed (and convicted) by her writings on habit.

Mason's contention was that when we train our children to have good habits a huge part of our parenting and educating battle is already won. But her words made me look at myself, and ooo boy I did not like what I saw.

I am not going to pretend that fifteen years later I have all the good habits and have ditched the bad. Goodness, back then some of the bad habits I fight now didn't even exist (I'm looking at you iPhone and Facebook.)

Still, the habit of rising and starting the day in God's Word will always be a blessing. I am not completely faithful in it, and when I slip I feel it. I am a much nicer and more patient person when my brain has been seasoned with Truth.

If you want to develop the habit of starting the day with Jesus, I highly recommend the HelloMornings ministry. When you join a HelloMornings group you will have the accountability of like-minded women who are also wanting to grow with Jesus by meeting with Him daily.

I am so blessed, y'all. I had the privilege of collaborating on the Bible study for this upcoming session too. Six years ago, when I first participated in HelloMornings, I never would have dreamed that I would have the joy of being a part of writing the studies. Isn't God delightful?

Because God's Word is living and active, you do not need to have gone through part 1 of But We See Jesus to be able to do this study. Just jump in now.

And (woohoo!) I have copies to give away! You can enter on Twitter, or on Facebook. Or both! I will be drawing names on Saturday morning.

If you want to give HelloMornings a try, head over now and join - a new session is starting on Monday October 10, 2016! You may just find it changes your life!

How a Mama Can Do Scary Things Anyway

I have fear on my mind a lot these days. Seems like there are oodles of things taking me out of my comfort zone. 

For starters, we are thinking about moving. The realities of packing up and downsizing a family and a farm, plus finding a suitable home in a fairly high-priced market have virtually paralyzed me. How can I get it all done? How will we ever find the right house? Is this really the best thing for our family? It’s an annoying subconscious soundtrack.

Then there are the movies. No, not watching movies. Being in movies. Gah! Abbie is our resident actress, and has been on the stage since she was six. Now we are trying to find ways for her to begin to explore film acting, and have fallen into several situations where we were able to be extras in movies. Yes, me too.

*cue heart palpitations and sweaty palms*

Camera on a track for panning shots

And today, Abbie and I attended a self defense class at our awesome local jiujitsu studio. Good grief, talk about being out of my comfort zone. I clearly need to get my act together with exercise because I do not want to stay in a place where the anticipation of being thrown to the floor (a well padded floor at that) had me in tears at home this morning. Be still my beating, terrified heart. 

A blurry iPhone picture of us flipping each other

Yep, I have been pretty steadily out of my comfort zone for the past two weeks. Do you ever find yourself there?

I am pretty much a hobbit. I would far rather stay at home and have my friends over for an endless parade of teas and pastries than do scary things. I’ll admit I am a bit of a Baggins-ish hobbit because I do enjoy traveling adventures (ask me about my 4000 mile road trips with my kids). But I am still a homebody on a regular day. Risk-taking is not in my DNA.

Still, I have learned that letting fear rule my decision making almost always results in regret. And I have also learned that forcing myself to do the scary things almost always results in joy.

It’s like a tidy equation:

decision making + fear = regret
scary things + courage = joy

Does that even make sense? I don’t know, it isn’t especially logical, but it accurately reflects my experience.

I am so glad I readjusted my plans, got off my hiney, and got the kids out the door to the film sets. We made memories that will last a lifetime. What would I have done if I had stayed home? Sat on the couch surfing Facebook? Cleaned something for the one millionth time? Bleh.

The self-defense class showed me some useful things:
  1. It is not as scary as I think to fall on a rubber mat (yes it does hurt a bit).
  2. I have more natural aggression than I realized.
  3. All the stuff I learn goes right out of my head when I am put on the spot (that was valuable but uncomfortable to experience).
  4. I need and actually want to practice this stuff.

There is something exhilarating about facing the things you are afraid of and conquering them!

So how does a mama make herself do scary things? My scary things might be different from your scary things, but I’ll bet we have the same motivator to push through our issues: our kids.

My children make me brave. Bravery isn’t about not being afraid. Bravery is being afraid and doing the thing anyway.

All of the scary events of the past few weeks were important for my children’s sake. My love for them helped push me out of my comfort zone and ultimately into the joy zone (thanks to that simple equation: scary things + courage = joy)

This is just another way that love leads to joy. Even if you don’t have kids, I’ll bet there is someone in your life you love who can inspire you to do scary things.

And while at first pass this may sound kitschy and cliche, if you are a Christian, your love for Jesus is probably the greatest motivator of all.

There are terrifying things I have done only because I love Jesus. Writing Bible studies, leading women’s groups, asking a stranger if I can pray for them, wearing a head covering, reading the Bible out loud at our church service, oh goodness, so many things for this introvert.

I am really just a trembling little girl in a grown-up body. But love can super-size me. It pushes me and pushes me until I am right out of my hobbit hole and quivering on the edge of some new and uncomfortable experience, ready to slog through fear to reach the joy on the other side.

Do you have a scary thing facing you right now? Whom will you love and bless by walking right into it? I would be my privilege to pray for you, for abounding love and for the courage to go forward. Leave me a comment or send me an email (patti @ joyfulmama dot com).

Let’s add courage-because-love to our scary things, and reap the joy! 
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