When my first child was born, I was consumed by the overwhelming feeling of desperation. The sleepless nights, the acid reflux, and the exhaustion all began to drain me day after day. All of the things that I didn’t know or expect as a new mom began to isolate and distance me from others. I believed the lie that I was all alone, because my close friends and family lived somewhere else. Instead of seeking friendships and community in my life, I wallowed in the idea that my life was doomed to be tied down to needs of my child.

Even as my child grew older and we added more children to our family, the thought of being alone in my journey never went away like I hoped it would. I thought maybe I just needed more confidence in my parenting to shake this feeling.

Over the past few years, God has used this loneliness to bring me to my knees. I began to pray and seek friendships with women outside of my circle. Through this process, I’ve learned that as moms, community is hard to commit to, but it is so worth it in the end.

Thankfully, God has brought a small group of women to my life that encourage me to think about the scriptures and pursue a deeper walk with the Lord. Today I want to share with you why striving for meaningful relationships within the church is important for you and your children.

 

It takes an (encouraging) village

We’ve all heard the sayings, “it takes a village to raise a child,” or “I’ve seen the village and I don’t want it raising my child.” The truth is that as believers we do need a village, but one that always points us and our children to Christ. When we isolate ourselves, it becomes easier for us to judge others and hide our struggles and sins.

When we are open with those around us, we can lean on each other when life is hard. This may look like taking a meal to a friend that just had a baby and reminding them that they are not alone. Or taking a friend’s kids for the day when they are sick and need some recovery time. Loving others and creating meaningful friendships is an opportunity for us to serve without receiving anything in return.

Accountability

While it’s important to surround ourselves with others, it’s also important that we find a group that strives to love and honor God through everything in their lives. We must seek community with those that know the Word and love us enough to speak truth in our lives.

When we have worldly friends that seem to care more about the latest trends, reality t.v., and celebrity gossip, it can influence us in a negative way. It can cause our thoughts to be consumed by things that don’t matter.

But if we find community in those that are truly seeking the Lord, it can change our lives. I encourage you to get involved with a local women’s Bible study or become more invested with those in your church. Finding people that will encourage you in your relationship with God can change how you view those hard feelings that we all deal with in this life.

I also want to point out that it’s important and beneficial for us to join together with singles, married couples, and families. Sometimes the people that encourage us the most in our Christian faith are those that are different from us. In fact, having a mentor that has grown children and may now have an empty nest could provide tons of guidance during your parenting hardships.

How our children benefit

It’s significant when we show our kids that community isn’t divided into groups but that it is good when we join together with other believers. When we pursue meaningful friendships with people or families who love God, we can lean on each other through training our children with the same goals in mind. When we fellowship with other families, it can be a great way for our children to make new friends. By knowing families that strive to honor and know God, we can hope to set our children up to also seek intentional relationships.

Whether it’s a single woman from church, or another family from your local homeschool group, inviting others into our home and serving them can be a great way for us to teach our children how to show God’s love to those around us.

How do you find time for community and fellowship with other believers?

 

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Have you ever had someone you know unexpectedly knock on your door?

I’ve always struggled with whether to invite them in or just see if they quickly need something. I want to be hospitable, but sometimes their visit catches me off guard. This usually looks like me trying to hide the leftover breakfast crumbs on the table and the blocks and toys that are all over the floor. All the while being polite and excited to see the person knocking on my door.

Made for Relationships

Like every other woman in America, I love the HGTV hit “Fixer Upper”. But as they are revealing the home to the homeowners, I can’t help but think about how long the house will actually look like that. Every accent of the home has been staged and designed beautifully. I don’t know about you, but my family would walk in and it would be a disaster in about five minutes.

As women, we believe that our homes must look perfect in order to invite anyone over. Maybe that’s why you never have guests because your home is always a mess. I’ve been there. The problem is, it’s difficult to connect with other believers when we believe this lie.

God created us to love one another and to have great conversations together. He didn’t create us to obsess over how clean or messy our homes are. Like everything we have, our homes belong to Christ. They are to be used for His glory, not for our own.

“Hospitality, however, seeks to minister. It says, “This home is not mine. It is truly a gift from my Master. I am His servant and I use it as He desires.” Hospitality does not try to impress, but to serve.” -Karen Burton Mains, quote from Open Heart, Open Home

Our primary purpose for inviting someone in should be to display the love of Christ. The condition of our home shouldn’t distract us from truly serving and loving our neighbor.

What’s the point?

So, maybe the solution to being hospitable is to commit to a cleaning schedule or get into the habit of at least keeping the living area picked up. We can always find little ways to improve our homemaking skills. But what we should focus on more than anything else is our motives.

I was recently listening to a video by Jen Wilkin, where she was talking about biblical hospitality. She stated that someone can host and create a beautiful dinner party with a fancy meal and it can be either entertaining or hospitality.

The two can look very similar. But if the hostess is doing it for their own glory and constantly fishing for compliments on how beautiful their tablescape is, they are obviously not practicing biblical hospitality. Another hostess could simply enjoy the work that goes into creating something breathtaking so that they can minister to those around them and reveal to them the beauty of Christ.

The difference between the two comes down to our motives. If we are willing to open the doors of our home whether it’s tidy or messy, we can be the hands and feet of Christ. But if we are focused on ourselves and our imperfections, we will be distracted from truly showing love to our guests.

John Piper said,

“You have a body to make God look good.”

When it comes to hospitality, I like to replace the word body with home. The purpose of our home should be to make God look good. Because He is good and our purpose in this life is to bring Him glory while being the light to those we come in contact with.

If managing your home seems like exhausting and useless work for you, please visit my blog Parenting with Humility and read my new post, When Managing Your Home Seems Like a Wasted Life. I hope that it will encourage you to glorify God with the unnoticed, unpaid work involved in homemaking.

How do you respond when you have an unexpected visitor?

I encourage you to invite them in to sit. Ask them if they would like a drink and carry on as if Jesus himself was there to visit you.

 

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In our home, we will always remember the Christmas of 2014 as the most unpleasant holiday (so far). We went to my Aunt’s house to celebrate Christmas Eve like we do every year and then we came home to prepare for a lovely Christmas morning. But all throughout the night, my two girls were sick, constantly throwing up. We went through multiple pajamas and gave many baths and changed sheets all night long. All I could think was, why is this happening on Christmas?!? The perfect day that I had planned felt ruined, and it made me sad.

Now that I think back on this Christmas it feels silly to be that upset about things not going my way. I know that the real reason to celebrate has nothing to do with Christmas pajamas, a french toast breakfast, or perfectly happy children. It’s not about us at all. It’s about worshiping and remembering the birth of our Savior.

This feeling of wanting perfection makes me think about the Christmas season that is upon us. We scroll through Pinterest, where recipes and crafts bombard us. We feel pressure to make Christmas perfect with homemade treats and finding the right gift. There is nothing wrong with these things, but often, Christmas itself becomes a god in our life that we worship every year. We take on so much that we end up feeling more stressed and empty when it’s all over.

So how do we avoid this feeling of sadness when the holidays are over, and the children don’t love their gifts as much as we thought they would?

We must balance our expectations and our reality. We live in a fallen world full of selfishness and the desire to constantly have things that are new and different. When we get shiny new toys and they fail to make us happy, it can cause depression and frustration. When we acknowledge that we will never find satisfaction in anything other than the love of our Savior, we can see actual happiness this Christmas.

When it comes to doing all of the crafts and making all of the recipes, do what you can and what you enjoy, but don’t try to do it all. It will only make you tired and keep you from actually savoring the memories with your family.
Each Christmas I make a realistic list of some fun things I would like to do that season. A few examples on this list are: make a treat for our neighbors, look at Christmas lights, and focus on kindness in our home. It doesn’t have to be complicated because we should still leave plenty of time to reflect on the birth of our Savior and how we are waiting for the second coming.

But Christmas gives us a unique opportunity to serve those around us, and I encourage you to focus on that and less on your Pinterest goals. Focus on how waiting for Christ is so much more meaningful than waiting to see how your child reacts to that new gift.

Jesus is the only gift our children need

I admit that it’s fun to search for the perfect gift for our kids. We think about their personality and what they enjoy. I think it helps us appreciate how God made them and encourages us to find a way to help them flourish.

This year we have decided to get each child only one present because they get so many gifts from family and they don’t need anything. I’ve learned over the years that gifts are fun at the moment, but our children need so much more than a new toy.

They need the gift of presence, the gift of being heard, the gift of laughter, and most importantly the gift of Jesus. The best gift we can ever give our children is the teaching and knowledge of the Word of God and how His love is indeed a gift like no other.

Joining together as believers

Another way to make this holiday season focused more on Christ is by joining together with other believers that are striving for the same thing as your family. There is something special about gathering together as a community to worship the One, true King. I’m not just talking about at church but in our homes, inviting others in to celebrate this special time.

We can put aside what our homes look like and make a mess in the kitchen by creating a special feast to share. We can practice hospitality and teach our children to consider the guests in our home. Commit to celebrate together this holiday season and join together as the body of Christ.

If you want to create a more Christ-centered Christmas this year, then I encourage you to join along in my 4-day Instagram Challenge starting on December 21st. Each day, we will post a picture on each topic and then use the hashtag, #adorehim. Also, make sure that you tag and follow me at @parentingwithhumility. I can’t wait to see how you make this Christmas more about Him! For more information on the challenge, subscribe to the PWH newsletter.

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You know that feeling when your child is playing with new friends at the local park, and suddenly you do not spot them anywhere You call their name, and still, they do not come running to you like you expect them to. For some mothers, it is easy to brush off. Then a few minutes later the child runs up to her asking for a snack or drink of water.

However, I am the mom that starts to panic inside. The worst case scenario begins to play through my head. Did someone take them? Did he/she wander away? Was he/she hurt?

I have always been a “worrier,” but having kids has taken my fears and worries to the next level. We love our children so much that the “mama bear” in us wants to protect them every second of every day.

We want control

God is working in my heart to show me how to trust Him more in this life. Whether it is a future move, friendships, my children, or my marriage, God is calling me to let go of my fears and focus more on Him.

That day at the park, when the panic fades, and my child is safe by my side, I begin to see my problem. My problem is not that my kids will need to learn more safety rules or be more obedient. As important as that may be, my problem is that I want all of the control of what happens to my children.

I believe God made us “mama bears” for a reason. No matter how hard I try to keep my child from harm, I cannot. We live in a sinful world full of uncertainty. That is why we need the grace of God to bring us peace and comfort when we are afraid of the unknown.

The anxiety and fear that we experience can cause us to forget who is control.

We must learn to trust God and always remember that whatever happens, He is trying to draw us closer and closer to Him. We must see our need for Christ, and sometimes that is revealed to us best when we are struggling.

When fear and anxiety cause anger

I may be the world’s worst backseat driver. I’ve always dealt with anxiety on the road. This fear kept me from getting my learner’s permit the year that I was supposed to.

I also grew up in a small town and driving on the interstate was not something we did often. So, when I married the city boy that drove on interstates his whole life, conflict arose. The nervousness and tension that I get can sometimes make me get angry at my husband for not staying in his lane or getting too close to the cars in front of us.

My anger can also cause me to get angry with my children when they want to try something new because I am afraid of what could go wrong.

I am here to share with you that you can find freedom from this stress. I have learned that in these situations, it is better for my children to experience a childhood full of adventures and fun than to keep them “safe.” And when I say safe I mean wrapping them in bubble wrap and having a play by play of what’s going on while they are off enjoying life.

We can so easily allow our anxiety to become anger and day by day we lose our joy as mothers. I don’t know about you, but I do not want my children to remember me as the mom that was always unhappy.

They need to see a mama that cherished this life with them. I want them to know that mom had a much bigger love and purpose for the Lord that always came first.

Surrendering our children to the Creator

If I have learned anything about my fear and anxiety, it is that the peace found in giving our children to Lord is the most freeing feeling.

When we place our trust in God above what makes us afraid, we can experience His goodness and faithfulness in a whole new way. We were not called to be able to protect our children. We are called to give them to Christ and to serve as a helper, working alongside the Holy Spirit to point our children in the right direction.

Ultimately, He is in control and His plan will accomplish great things for His glory.

I cannot imagine losing one of my kids, but I do know that God’s plan is so much bigger than mine. When we place our anxiety and fear in His hands, we can learn to appreciate each moment that we do have with our children.

Are you struggling with fear and anxiety? What helps calm your heart when those feelings arise?

 

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Ten months ago I gave birth to our sweet Lydia. Even though I was shocked by the fact that our baby was a girl (read this post about our surprise baby), I was absolutely sure of one thing as a mom of now four children; that I would be losing sleep. I knew the drill of waking up every 2 hours to nurse, burp, and change my newborn.

What I didn’t expect was now ten months later, still getting up every 2 hours to nurse. Why wasn’t she like my other babies that slept through the night at 7 months??

Right now, we are in the process of night weaning (which is complete torture when you are sharing a bedroom with the baby) and I’m exhausted. It’s night after night of not sleeping, and then going all day trying to catch up on the housework, run my blog and online shop, all while homeschooling and caring for my four little ones.

Often times, I feel like I never stop. So, how will I ever be able to focus on my spiritual life if I can barely keep up with these everyday demands?

While I don’t have a secret formula for a more content and full life, I do know that if I’m not seeking the Lord everyday, then I will feel defeated, alone, and worn down.

Here are a few things that I try to remember when I just want to give up:

Mama’s are missionaries

So often, we can view our child’s crying or our toddler’s mess as an interruption. Maybe you were finally sitting down to read God’s Word, and all of sudden your child needs you. How are we supposed to grow as a Christian woman if our children are constantly relying on us to care for them?

The truth is, if God’s Word is important to us, then we will make time for it. We will wake up a little earlier, read it aloud to our little ones, or choose The Word instead of the latest Netflix show.

We can begin to view our tasks as a busy mother like the missionary overseas that has given up a comfortable life and has committed their lives to service in the Kingdom of God.

Each day, we are met with challenges in our mission field. Challenges that make us want to give up, lack self-control, and forget our purpose. We complain about our circumstances instead of seeking what God is doing in the hearts of ourselves and of our children.

When we view our motherly role as a missional opportunity, then God’s purpose can be revealed in our hearts. We will commit to learning and becoming educated in God’s Word, so that we can share the good news to the little people in our home.

We Can’t Do Anything Without Christ

When we try to do this motherhood thing without Christ, we will be exhausted, confused, and desperate. We will find ourselves always wishing for our children to outgrow stages and wait for the next season. We begin to believe that life will be easier when our children can help with the chores.

Or are finally out of diapers.

Or can read.

Or drive.

We begin to believe that if we can get out of this current season, we won’t be so exhausted. But the truth is that when we are mothering without Christ as our guide, we will always be tired and lost.

As moms, we can have hope in the fact that even when motherhood is hard, God is there. He is teaching us, guiding us, and loving us. On a hard day, if I can remember what a gift it is to have little ones, I’m more patient, more loving, and enjoy motherhood so much more.

I hope to see my future preteens, teenagers, and grown children as a gift as well. Our season won’t determine our happiness. Every season is exhausting and disorienting if God is not sought daily.

So, when you are getting up for the fifth time in the middle of the night, know that you are laying down yourself to care for your baby. Just like Christ displayed His love for us on the cross, you are showing your sweet child His love in that tiring moment.

What can you give up to ensure that you are hearing God’s voice daily through His Word?

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Have you ever had such an intense craving for something that you couldn’t have? Maybe it’s soda that isn’t available where you live or food you can only find during certain seasons. You probably try to find something similar to satisfy that craving, but in the end it’s just not the same.

At times, I do this with my spiritual life. I want to know God’s word and I crave it. But I can quickly run to my computer for the latest blog posts and podcasts to fill this need for encouragement, instead of opening my Bible.

Maybe you feel this way too. Here are a few steps that I’m taking to make sure that the what I believe is in fact coming from Christ and I hope that it will encourage you to get into the Word more.

Avoid a checklist mindset

When we wake up each morning knowing that the right thing to do is read our Bible and pray, we are growing spiritually, right? Not always. Even I, myself have fallen into the routine of waking up early, reading through a passage (because that’s what I’m suppose to do as a Christian woman) too quickly.

I know that I need God’s word. I know that it encourages me and guides me throughout my day. But how hard am I trying to apply His word to my life? Sometimes, I treat this sacred time as just another thing on my to-do list.

Many times, I end up not understanding what I read, or how to apply it. Quickly reading a passage in the Bible isn’t necessarily going to have an impact on our life.

I rush through it knowing that soon I’ll be hearing little footsteps coming down the hallway. But what if I took it one sentence, maybe even one word at time? What if my children sat down, curled up beside me and watched me study my Bible? What if we talked about the words I didn’t know and looked them up together? It’s okay to take it a little at time.

To me, that’s teaching our children that mama cares about her Bible. She cares what God has to say to us.

Know what you believe and why

 

“The heart cannot love what the mind does not know.” -Jen Wilkin

 

Lately, I’ve felt a nudge in my heart to go back to the basics. I’ve been using the New City Catechism and memorizing basic questions/answers about the Christian faith. I want to be able to have these answers stored in my heart (Psalm 119:11) so that I teach my children and anyone else that I may come in contact with.

Even though I grew up in the church, I still need to be reminded about why I believe what I believe. If I want to teach my children well and if I want to truly love God, I must know Him.

Seek Help

If you are struggling to understand a certain passage, then I encourage you to seek wisdom. Don’t be afraid to ask a pastor or mentor. If we care about knowing God’s word then we will put aside our feelings of inadequacy and seek answers.

I pray that we will realize that nothing can take place of the living, breathing word that is found in the Bible. Let’s take our faith seriously and make sure that we aren’t replacing God’s Word with online content. Even the most popular, most wise blogger struggles with sin, and following them will never bring us the fulfillment that following Christ brings.

New to this community? Start here, friend.

Whenever I’m in public with all four of my small children, I’m almost certain that I’m going to encounter at least one stranger that is a little curious about our family. Are they all yours? What are their ages? Are they twins (my oldest girls are 14 months apart, so we get this question a lot)? Do you want more?

Do I want more? I understand why people ask this and I’m not saying it’s rude to be curious about someone’s family size, but it’s a hard one for me to answer. Most of the time my response is “we’ll see”, which usually shocks the person that asked the question to begin with.

Here’s the thing; my husband and I haven’t picked a number to reach when it comes to having children. It’s not our goal to out-number some other family or fulfill the typical homeschool family stereotype.

So, if I could take over the intercom at our local Wal-Mart, here is what I would tell all of the strangers that are blown away by how many little kids I have.

We enjoy our kids.

A nice guy at our church always offers to hold my youngest while I’m trying to round up my other children. While I appreciate his help, it’s just second nature for me to care for my other children with a baby on my side, and I don’t even think about it.

Being their parent is not always easy or enjoyable, but I’m so passionate about the role God has given me as their mother. Most of my days are spent encouraging siblings to get along and finding creative ways to get a point across. It requires lots of patience and prayer, but being with my children brings me joy.

They are not an accessory created to make me look good or to collect. They are here for my husband and I to train to be future leaders, missionaries, and God-seekers. This is a job we should take seriously, but one that we should also enjoy. My favorite days are the ones when we are doing fun things together.

We don’t think we are more Christian than you.

In our own experience, my husband and I have struggled with wanting to control our family size. We want to feel like we have the power to determine the size of our family because the thought of another baby overwhelms us. But we know that God’s plan always trumps ours and our faith should be in Him to provide. This is our personal story and yours may not be like this, and that’s okay.

Having lots of kids does not make our family more “Christian” than the family with 2 children (or no children). So many times I wish I could shout this from the mountain top. My husband and I know that not everyone is called to have a large family. Just because we continue to have children does not mean that we are fulfilling God’s plan better than you.

God has given each family their own plan and the ones with 1 or 2 kids are able to serve God in different ways. How many children you have should be based on prayer and seeking Christ together as a couple. Just because some large family on TV seems to have it all together does not mean that God wants you to keep having kids. You should never base your decisions on the large, Christian family next door or on the well-known television show.

Make your own wise choices through prayer and council.

We make it work.

At this time, we are grateful that my husband and I can both work from home. While I run my online shop and blog, my husband provides an income from his eBay business. When our oldest was a baby, my husband worked for a similar company and he was able to learn everything he needed to know to open his own shop from home.

Most parents have to get up and go to work everyday, which means leaving the children with a babysitter or daycare provider. Our unique situation allows us to save money and be together as a family all day, every day.

Is it overwhelming at times? Yes. Is our marriage and family perfect? No way. Do our children have the latest toys and closets full of boutique clothing? No.

But being together and working through the everyday struggles of life, encourages us to work as a team. I realize it may not always be this way but I really do enjoy this season (even though it’s hard at times).

I love that our children are able to see my husband and I work hard. They are able to “help” Daddy package items and take them to the post office. We consider this a huge blessing in our lives.

We understand that not everyone wants this life or is able but this is our situation and we make it work for us.


I don’t share about having my husband home to discourage you or to make you want the same for your family, but to remind you that God will provide if He has called you to have a large family.

Sure, I could think of many other things I wish people knew about our family, but these are probably the biggest points I’d like to make. The next time you see a big family, instead of asking the questions that they hear day after day, encourage them. Tell them they are blessed to have so many children!

Let us know in the comments, how many children do you have and what are their ages?

 

For more on this topic, head on over to Parenting With Humility and read the response I got when I told people I was pregnant with my fourth child.

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Growing up, I had many wild ideas of who I wanted to be. Most of these theories were influenced by the shows I was watching, the music I listened to, and the people I was surrounded by.

When I was 14, my dream was to move to New York City and become a hairstylist or makeup artist. Of course, having the funds or schooling to actually make this happen was never a thought in my young, naive mind.

Now, over twelve years later and many hours in cosmetology school, I know that’s not the job or plan God has for me. God had a much more simple plan for me to become a wife and a work at home mom.

No matter what career or role you play in your life, we all want success. We all want to do our jobs well. Everyone wants to be a someone.

So how do we achieve our goals without obsessing over fame or admiration?

We live in a really small town in the mountains of North Carolina. If you sit down at the local coffee shop, you will probably see someone you know. Everybody knows everybody here. It’s nice to run into someone that instantly knows who you are.

I believe we all have a deep longing to want to be known (I Cor. 13:12). I think it’s God’s way of reminding us that we were created for relationships and that we weren’t meant to do life alone. We need people to know us, love us, and grow with us.

It’s our own selfishness that takes this longing and turns it into a sin by wanting fame instead of true, authentic friendship.

We want to be the next big thing instead of focusing on who God has created us to be. We want our children to be star athletes, dancers, and excel academically. We want to make a name for ourselves and those close to us.

What’s your definition of success?

We all have different theories on what being successful is. To some it’s becoming rich or well-known, and to others it’s just about getting through the day without losing it.

Our culture views motherhood and homemaking as a compromise in life. The world tells us that when you choose to be a mother that you give up on ever being anything else. You’ve lost your chance.

First of all, God has made us for so much more. Our success should be more of how much we are growing and less on what we are right now. Growing to be more wise, more loving, more patient, more compassionate.

Whether you are a business owner, a struggling homemaker, or a mom that simply wants her children to listen, it takes lots of prayer and seeking God’s plan for each day. But instead of focusing so much on finding the perfect business plan, cleaning schedule or discipline technique, we must seek growth in our lives.

When I listen to someone older and more wise speak about following God’s Word throughout parenthood, I begin to relax a bit. Hearing someone who has been through the trials and made it to the other side brings me hope.

My point is that God is working in us. Each day if we invite Him to come in, we will grow a small step closer to who He has created us to be. This can only be done when we study His Word and follow His commandments. That’s when Christ can truly work in our hearts.

So let’s focus more on growing as a woman of God than being successful.

When we lay our lives down to Christ, our failures and challenges seem less important.

Luke 17:33 says:

“Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.”

Instead of seeking selfish gains in our lives, we should offer our lives as a sacrifice to the Creator. Seeking His face, His fame, His glory. That’s when we will find true success in this life.

What area in your life do you need to focus more on growth than on success?

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