I had no idea how great my need for parenting encouragement was until this past weekend. I realized that there are times we give and give; do and do forgetting to replenish ourselves along the way. This eventually leads to burnout and possible feelings of bitterness. Thus, find those things that fill you so you can continue to pour into others knowing this is a balancing act.
For the last 10 years I have attended “The Wholehearted Mother” conference held in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I have missed a few but not many. I consider this time my vitamin B12 shot for a balanced mothering perspective. Unbeknownst to Sally Clarkson, she has been one of my greatest mentors as she has a beautiful heart that seeks to know HIM and shares her joys, sorrows, struggles, life, etc… which I can totally relate to. I recall first hearing her speak in CA in 1996 at a home school conference where my desire to home educate solidified and became achievable as I too desired to raise our children in the training and instruction of the Lord. What a joy it has been to shape our girls hearts to be followers of Christ. Today we are seeing some fruits of our labor as both older girls love God, are passionate about Him and serve Him.
When we moved to Austin in 1998 and I was able to hear Sally share “Educating the Wholehearted Child.” Ok I feel like a groupie as I made it a yearly commitment to get my dose of encouragement as it related to being a better mother and wife. Over the years she has brought in other speakers such a Linda Dillow, Jean Fleming, Zan Tyler, and her daughter. I guess I share this as the role of having Godly (wise) mentors in your life is invaluable and it looks different for each of us. It’s best to have someone you can meet face to face however with our many moves, home schooling of the girls, the added blessing of Cayley, life, etc.. I found it easier to run to a (conference, book, my past notes) when I needed a little perspective on life not to mention encouragement.
The conference this weekend was titled “Seasons of a Mothers Heart” after her revised and updated book; which I recommend for those looking for a dose of mothering encouragement. I enjoyed how she related the various seasons and changes to our lives as mothers as I am visual. I know you have heard it said, “before you know it, your baby will be grown.” It is true and each stage of life is a season. Use your time wisely and know where you are going.
She began with SUMMER being a time of RESPONSE. This is a time to plant when we as mothers want to reach our children’s hearts. To be a planter we must invest our time (mentor). This investment of time and mentoring has been very intentional with Caryn and Courtney who we desired to know God, be like Him, and serve Him. I realized this weekend that when Cayley came into our lives I was not as intentional about what the end would look like for her given the 10 year gap and the urgency to finish well with our big girls. Hence the need for my attending the conference as I desire to clearly define our vision for Cayley’s life. It is imperative to know where you are going as you will end up somewhere. We sought God’s word in helping us develop our road map as parents. I can’t give my girls (others) what I do not have and my help comes from the Lord. I implore you to spend daily time in the word. A little adds up over time. One of my favorite ways to fill/renew my mind with truth is listening to the bible on CD at bedtime. It is calming and peaceful to fall asleep to truth renewing your mind. Be sure you attend a bible teaching church. Carefully pray about the various activities you and your children will be involved in. If you want to make family meal time a priority you might have to say no to other things. Live your live intentionally.
Next is FALL a season of RESOLVE sort of where you adjust your expectations, reassess, stand back and gain perspective. Currently this is one place God has me with all three of the girls. My expectations have to change now that the older girls have their own schedules (college and work) and we have ours. We aren’t all able to have a consistent breakfast or dinner time together. Connecting with the older girls has to be more intention on my part when they are open and available. Cayley is growing up in a very different decade than her older sisters. How I did things in the past require me to reevaluate them today. Throw in ministry opportunities, real life, and my bent to be organized and wanting do it all = burnout. Guess what? I can’t do it all and especially well. This is when I tend to fall into many feelings of self condemnation as I allow others opinions/suggestions/request to matter more to me than that of my family. Thus, I resolve 1) to step back reevaluate what all is on my plate and be sure my priorities are right (God, Jon, the girls, and then other things); and 2) to let go of many of the expectations I have placed on the older girls and our family. I am thankful for new beginning and knowing it is never to late to start afresh in the grace I am given by my heavenly Father.
Coming soon part two ( WINTER and SPRING) insight.