Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Dream Child

Did you have a picture of what your child(ren) would be like? Did you ever dream about the type of person he/she would be? What they would grow up to do?

I think most parents have dreams about their children, even if they don't get specific. I've never really had a dream about the career my children will have like I've heard many parents do. I haven't made specific goals for sports or academics or accomplishments for my children. I haven't made a list of acceptable qualities in a spouse (unless you count my 2 requirements - that they love God and love my child). Yet still, my children are not exactly what I imagined.

It's because of this crazy phenomenon of each of them being born with their own little personalities. Crazy. I thought I'd have most everything to do with how they turned out. (Truth be told, I'm SO glad this isn't true!)

Many people believe children are born as blank slates and they become who they are based on their environments. Other people believe children are who they are and nothing will change that. I believe somewhere in the middle. And that's where much of the struggle happens.

I knew so much more about parenting before I became a parent. You just loved them and disciplined them and everything would work out. Now I'm a mom of 4, ages 12-6. I love them. And I discipline them. And there is SO MUCH MORE than those two things to being a parent.

There is the child who exasperates me because she is a good arguer and very persistent. There's the child who's struggled with reading and taken a whole lot of time and attention to help with this learning challenge. The child who feels everything deeply, and sometimes goes off the deep end emotionally. And the child who is really good at staying under the radar and not listening.

They have brought me more challenges than I ever imagined, just because they didn't do or think the way I expected.

And that's exactly how it's supposed to be!

God made each of them - to be their own unique person. My job is not to set my expectations of what I want them to be: my dream child, but to foster them into the unique person God created them to be.

That doesn't make my job easier, but it makes it much more valuable. I'm not here to just help them accomplish things and become a good citizen, but to learn to grow in the Lord to become the person He designed them to be.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Parenting for God

pregnant woman and sea

When I became a mom, I had no idea the responsibility and weightiness of the job I was taking on. Now, almost 13 years in, God is still revealing truths about what it actually means not to just be a mom, but to be a mom for Him.

We were watching TV last night and a diaper commercial came on. You know the ones with precious, chubby, smiley, perfectly clean, healthy, and happy babies. They remind me of the images I had pictured when I anticipated becoming a mom.

Oh, I knew there'd be sleepless nights and times of fussiness. I knew about the terrible twos and trying threes. I knew adolescence would bring a host of new challenges. At least I thought I knew.

Somehow, reality of being a mom wasn't even close to what I knew in my head it would be like. It reminds me of the difference often talked about in the Greek words for "know."

The word "odia" (hopefully I have this right) means to know as in facts, data, and cognitive pieces.
The word "ginosko" means internalized knowledge gained through experience.

Before I became a mom I "odia" what it meant. Now I "ginosko" what it means.

Still, however, after 7 years of pregnancy and sleepless nights, 4 years of nursing, countless kisses on booboos, unlimited corrections, consequences, and lessons, and many, many tears (mine & theirs), I'm learning the further along I get in this mothering thing, the more I have to learn.

The most important, which I wish I'd known - either use of the word - much, much earlier is my greatest privilege and burden as a mom: teaching my children who God is and how to have an authentic relationship with Him.

Now, I've spent much time growing closer to the Lord over the last dozen years. I've on occasion read Bible stories to my children, I've posted a sign on my door that says, "Do not Disturb. Mommy's praying," I've had them enrolled in a Bible memory program since they were 3, and I've always been open to discussing anything, making sure to teach them a Biblical viewpoint of every aspect of life.

However, when I ask myself if I've really been training them to have an authentic, on-fire relationship with Jesus, I must humbly admit the answer is no.

I didn't have that and I've kind of self-trained myself into spiritual growth, with a spattering of Christian mentors over the last 20 years. I haven't really been trained to train my children.

But that is all changing now. I just spent a wonderful weekend with some beautiful young women (and their moms) who talked about learning as a child and young adult to cultivate that personal relationship with Jesus. Not that it made their lives particularly easy or lacking of bumps and mistakes, but that each one of them came back to settle on the Rock and Foundation, the only One who provides salvation and real meaning to life.

That's what I want for my kids. To ginosko God. Step by step, I will learn from Him and share with them all that entails.

I plan to share with you, too, as I'm walking this journey and learning not just to parent well, but to parent for Him. I'd love to hear about your journey and lessons too! Please feel free to share and come back for more of the journey so we can learn together.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Balancing Feelings

I struggled today when talking about one of my children. Overwhelmed with emotion I didn't expect, I could barely get the words out.

Fortunately, this struggle isn't due to any trouble my child has gotten in or major difficulty she is experiencing. Today, the emotions were about balancing my feelings, my calling, and her feelings and need for me.

This is something many mothers go through every day.

I am fortunate enough to be an at home mom. Something I never dreamed or imagined I'd be, but yet I love it greatly. I get to be with my babies every day. Almost.

You see, I've also been called to write and speak. To serve and love. To go and tell.

Over the last four years I've been speaking with Stonecroft Ministries. I've had the honor to be a part of this organization which sends me throughout my region to share my story of redemption by the grace of God. I don't travel too often, nor too long. Generally about every other to every three months and at most for two nights.

I also run a women's conference which takes me away a couple days each year. This year I was honored to be asked to share my testimony at a young women's conference. Again, gone a couple days. Once in a while (about every 2-3 years), my hubby and I take the time to get away just by ourselves, the longest being a work trip that took me away for 4 nights.

I love the life God has called me to, even if it's hard to be away at times. I'm blessed to not only be at home with my sweet babies, however, but to also homeschool them. So I am with them almost every day, all day. It makes it easier to go (and get a break), especially when it's only a day or two.

However, I am preparing for one of the biggest trips of my life. And longest. I'm signed up for a 12 day mission trip to Kenya, Africa this spring. I have had a desire to go on an international mission trip for almost 20 years and a heart's longing to go to Africa for about a year. I'm am so excited!

But it means leaving my babies for 12 whole days. I believe I will be fine. I'll be busy. I'll be experiencing new, wonderful, sometimes scary, things.

I also believe 3 of my children will be fine. They get excited about the adventures I plan for them when I'm gone, and if not that, they are at least distracted by the schoolwork I leave them and the regular routine. My precious 3rd child, however, is the one who cause the overflow of emotions today. She does not do well when I'm gone. She has stomach aches and cries herself to sleep. Not every time, but often enough.

I wonder how she will survive Mommy gone for almost 2 weeks. And thus the struggle.

I know I'm meant to go. God has made that clear. My mommy heart is having a hard time with the hurt of my child, however.

So I struggle to balance it all.

I know I can't stay home and disobey God. I have explained that to her. Also, that there are many, many children out there who don't have a mommy to hold and kiss them every day and part of what I'm doing is to show just a few of those children that kind of love, if for but a few days. She's okay with all that, she just wants to go with me.

It is hard. To leave a child who will ache desperately while I'm gone. Like many mothers have to do on a daily, weekly, lifelong basis.

How do we balance it?

By trusting God. That He knows what He's doing and loves that child infinitely more than I ever could. That He has called me to this life for His purpose. And that He will work His purpose in her life as well, using even her heartache to draw her closer to Him. To know that she is His.

And so I go, making sure I do everything I can to leave pieces of my love for her to experience while I'm gone. And promising unlimited hugs and snuggles when I return.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Revived & Rejuvenated


Today I am a bit tired, but extraordinarily revived and rejuvenated. I'm excited about today, and tomorrow, and the day after that. I'm also determined not to lose my excitement or commitments or what's brought me to this place.

That doesn't mean I believe I'll be on clouds and rainbows everyday for the rest of my life. It means that God has used some special time with Him to refocus me and rejuvenate me in ways that I believe will lead to lasting change and transformation.

More on that later, but for now, I'd like to take a moment to remind you what I was shown very clearly in the last two days - we moms need to take care of ourselves.

I generally think I do a pretty good job at this, but while I take time for myself fairly regularly, the truth is I've been putting quantity over quality. I take time for myself, but to veg, to chill, to just be alone. There is value in that, but I tend to overdo it. Most of the times - this is where confession comes in - it's to read a book or, more often, binge on Netflix. Even when I tell myself I'll just watch one episode to relax, it rarely turns out that way. Then I find I've wasted hours. I've had time to myself (which I cherish and regard highly), but it hasn't necessarily been quality time.

This past weekend I had the honor of sharing my testimony at a conference for young women and their moms. I almost took my oldest with me, but since she and I just spend two amazing days of worship at Liberty University for Winterfest 2015, I decided this needed to be just me. (Because while the 2 days of worship were great, they were also exhausting, and I thought my other 3 children might revolt if I did something with just the oldest again in such a short time span.)

It was a good choice.

While I believe my daughter would have benefited, I think it will be a greater benefit to her and the rest of my family that I had a chance to feast on the Word and be surrounded by women great in their faith for two days without having much expected of me. Out of the almost 48 hour retreat, I only had an obligation (which really was a blessing) to speak for 20 minutes. The rest of the time at the Such a Time Conference was spent being encouraged and uplifted by other Christian woman.

It was like a huge glass of ice cold water for this mom who (as I discovered by getting quiet and listening to God while there) had been in a desert place for a long time. Not that I wasn't growing, learning, serving, giving, and loving, but because I was doing all that without really re-nourishing myself regularly in the Lord.

I pray. I read, study, and meditate on the Word. However, I haven't been doing such in a way that the Lord could really refresh my spirit.

That's not only what He did for me this weekend, but also what He revealed I need to do on a regular basis in my life.

The truth is, He's been telling me this for about a year now.

Be still.

Be quiet.


In experiencing times of being quiet with God over the last two days, I know this is a commitment I need to be faithful to. Want to be faithful to. Because God will keep me filled. He will draw me closer and make me more like Him so that I can be more of a blessing to those around me.

So, this is my public commitment, that I will spend not just quantity of time (praying regularly), but quality of time (praying deeply, listening, and leaning).

I invite you to do the same. And if you do, if you take the time to really take care of yourself, to spend time with God that's essential for us to ever even come close to doing this mother thing well, I'd love to hear about it! I invite you also to share your journey with me at tracy_wainwright@yahoo.com.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Children are a Great Reward

child wind playingI'm so glad I had no idea how much work having children would be before I became a mom. I mean, even if people tried to tell me (which I'm sure they did), I've since discovered there's no way to really understand being a mom until you become one.
That's what many people focus on today, though: how much work children are. How much they change your life, your priorities, your ability to have a shower by yourself.
I remember having a conversation with a coworker before he had children. I shared with him that children change every aspect of your life. He poo-pooed me saying that children shouldn't take over one's life and it was going to be different for him. Then his wife got pregnant. About a year into parenthood he came back to me and referenced our previous conversation. He said, "I get it now."
He got that I wasn't saying that children take over and rule your life, or at least they shouldn't, but when you become a parent it changes everything. And for me, those changes have been a huge blessing.
Now, in honor of full disclosure, I wasn't a great baby mom. Meaning that I sometimes turned into a monster and at others resembled a zombie more than a human. I have always had a great need for sleep and having 4 children in 6 years, none of which slept that glorious 11 hours straight until they hit 11 months (no matter what they ate, what kind of routine I had them on, or when we started whole milk) did not do well for my emotions or brain-functioning. But it taught me how precious those moments are when I do have an ounce of energy and to fully rely on God in my great weaknesses.
All of the work has been worth it. Especially when I take a step back, realize I've robbing my kids of learning responsibility and take the time to teach them to share in the work. But the relationships I've been able to cultivate with my children are a result of the huge amounts of time I've spent with them. Their gratitude is at least in part of the time I've spent doing things with and for them. Seeing them grow, develop and learn more about God and who He made them to be is a result of what God has taught me about His being my Father through my life with my children.
So, while I push back against the concept of idolizing our children, giving them everything in the world they want, being their servant, and letting them take over my life, I would not trade anything in this world for the way they've affected every aspect of my life.

They are a great reward - one that keeps on giving, multiplying, and blessing me each and every day I have with them.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Everyone Has a Story, What's Yours?

Everyone has a story. Most people have more than one. I know I do. There are many things throughout my life that have affected who I am. 

Heartbreak. Moves. Jobs. Schools. Friendships. Family relationships. Marriage. Parenting. Job loss. Achieved dreams. Disappointments.

Each one of these things has had an impact on my life. Many of them have taught me great lessons about life and God.

Most recently, I find He's using the delay of seeing a dream come to fruition to help me walk out things I already know.

Can I be content where I am? Yes, if I'm willing to seek God, His presence, and His grace, while praising Him in the moment.

Can I remain faithful to His calling when things aren't going the way I want them to? Yes, if I get on my knees to seek His strength, guidance, and give up my fleshly desires.

Can I reach goals that at the moment seem unattainable? Yes, if it's what He's called me to and I learn to lean on and rely on Him instead of myself.

Can I be more like Him next week, next month, next year? Yes, if I'm willing to surrender every moment and every breath for the works He's pre-planned for me to do.

This is how God's growing me to be more like Him and bring Him more glory, as a wife, as a mom, as a friend.

I haven't given many details here (but you can find more at www.surrenderedliving.blogspot.com), because the details don't always matter.

That we can relate to each other's lives, stories, and struggles is important. However, I'd love to hear your story, details and all. How is God transforming you?

Email me at tracy_wainwright@yahoo.com if you're interested in sharing your story on my blog. I'd love to read and share!