A few months ago my sister (Jen) was telling me about a message that Andy Stanley preached based on a verse in Nehemiah and I have had it on my mind ever since then. I finally found it online and have been trying to figure out how to put it “on paper.” (this blog post I just found does a much better job than I did at this!) Essentially, Andy was talking about identifying the “one thing” that needs your focus and attention this year.
The verse is: “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” – Nehemiah 6:3
This verse has settled deep in my heart the past few months…my sister, Kelly, got me a sign with this verse on it and I have it up in my office. As a new mom I feel like I am kind of all over the place all the time. Between balancing being a wife, mom, owning a business, planting a church, being a good sister/daughter/friend, etc…there is A LOT going on. I think this verse really sunk into my heart because I realized that I really wasn’t doing anything well. I was doing fine at being a wife and mom, I was doing fine at my job, etc, etc…but I didn’t feel like I was doing anything with excellence, and I needed to identify my ONE thing.
In this church planting journey people often ask me what my role is in the church. And my answer: my role is being Chris’ wife and Elliot’s mom. Those are my 2 priorities. Not work, not friendships, not church activities, not fitness classes, my one thing is my family. Obviously everything else is hugely important (I am not trying to say it’s not!), but I had to readjust my mindset that I don’t have to do everything (nor can I!) and I need to stay focused on my “wall” that God has called me to.
This has meant making a few changes and that I miss out on some things…I shift my work schedule around so that Elliot gets my full attention when she is awake and so I can be there when Chris is around, I say no to a lot of things, I have backed out of several commitments that I felt like took me away from this task and was bringing me down off of my wall, and I had to learn to say “no, I am doing a great work, and I CANNOT come down.” I often leave church events early to be sure that Elliot gets to bed on time and stays in her routine (yes, we are flexible, but it’s really important to us that she has stability and predictability in her life…and we need to start that now), I turn down a lot of invitations to do things with friends that would require me to get babysitters more days/nights than I want to be away. I had to step away from teaching one of my fitness classes because it took away time that I really feel is precious to our family and needed to be protected. Yes, sometimes it’s a bummer, but then I remember my reason for all of this? I am doing a GREAT work, and I cannot come down. As I was rocking Elliot to sleep tonight I reminded what an honor it is that I was chosen to help shape her heart, show her the love of Jesus, and I don’t want to be distracted from the joy and privilege that God has given me as her mom, so I am staying up on my wall…and I will NOT come down.
If you ever see me sneak out of an event, or if you feel like I am not as available as I used to be…now you know why. God has called me to this, and I am doing a great work, and too much is at stake for me to come down.
So, what is your one thing? Have you identified your wall? Are you staying up there, or are you making exceptions and coming down?
I can’t believe my sweet baby is already 6 months old!! (Actually, 6.5 months at this point, but…I am behind! )
Elliot, at 6 months you:
- can sit up all by yourself!
- still don’t roll over from back to tummy…you are stubborn!
- love to be outside! You especially love watching cars go by.
- love going on walks – you are content in the stroller for about an hour.
- have 1 little nub of a tooth! I had no idea it was even close to popping through because your mood didn’t change at all…just felt it in there one day!
- LOVE solids! Your favorite is pears.
- are allergic to wheat…which is strange, since no one in our family is! You broke out in hives and one night your lips swelled up, it really scared mama!
- have very, very sensitive skin. You are allergic to all of the organic skin care products and coconut oil.
- smile ALL the time! People fall in love with you as soon as they meet you because you just grin your gummy grin at them!
- are starting to recognize people who are in your life regularly…especially your YaYa! When she is in the room you stare her down.
- love to give kisses to mama and your sock monkey. You don’t really give kisses to anyone else right now, so I am ok taking all of them!
- are trying to figure out how to move forward, but the few times you have succeeded in moving at all, you have gone backwards. Most of the time you just arch your back and put your arms behind you and you look like a penguin sliding on ice.
- still LOVE the Jumperoo!
You are the sweetest, most laid back baby and we are so very blessed to be your parents!!!
A fellow church planter told Chris that we would appreciate having our baby at the same time we were officially getting started with Resonate, then we would always remember how old our church is! I have to say, for the first month or two of doing this gig I was feeling pretty overwhelmed and honestly a little bit crazy (and stupid?) that we were launching our weekly gatherings with our brand new church plant at the same time as we were getting into the swing of parenting. Trying to get out the door with a newborn is hard in itself…trying to do it by yourself to get to church is another battle! It was A LOT to handle. But now that we are in our groove, I am realizing SO many parallels between being the parent of an infant, and planting a church in its infancy stages.
If you know me, you probably know I am not a patient person. Pregnancy was hard for me…a looooong wait that I could do nothing about. And honestly, the past 1.5-2 years have been hard for me as well…dreaming about Resonate and not really being able to do much about it. What this also means (my impatience…) is I tend to wish things/time away. For example, I love this stage with Elliot, but I am constantly looking to “what’s next” and saying things like “I am so excited for her to x, y, z…” when I really need to realize that time goes by SO fast, and I need to treasure every single moment I have with her in each stage, not wish for the next! (it’s seriously true what they say…time goes into superspeed when you have kids, it’s unbelievable…) This same feeling is true for me with Resonate. I always tell Chris “I am so excited for the day that we have our own space,” or “I am so excited to have an established children’s ministry.” You name it, I have probably said I am excited for it. I am not saying that excitement and anticipation for change is a bad thing, but I think we often get lost in looking forward and not living in the present.
I realized tonight as about 12 of the people from our core group were sitting there praying through John, talking about what God was revealing to us in the scriptures, and singing sweet worship songs that this is not a stage we will be in forever, and I need to treasure it. We are so lucky to intimately know the hearts of the people who are planting with us. People who have left churches they were probably quite comfortable in to do something that is really uncomfortable and sometimes a little bit awkward. Something that they have prayed about and are passionate about the vision God has placed on our hearts to carry out…and are expectant for what God is going to do through our little tribe of people. There will be a day when I don’t know everyone in the church by name and have their numbers programmed in my phone. These are precious, precious days. We are part of a group that Chris and I are able to be transparent with (which is so unbelievably hard when you are in leadership roles in ministry)….and I am so thankful.
So I am going to try to really treasure this time of “infancy” in my life…the nights rocking my sweet baby to sleep when she just can’t seem to get there herself. The nights in our living room with a group of people who have stepped out in faith with us. It’s a stage in my life that is a lot of work and a lot of food in my hair and all over my clothes, but it is such a precious time.
I encourage you to do the same…cherish the moment you are in right now. Stop living for things in the future, and live where God has placed you right now…passionately.
I cannot believe our sweet, sweet girl is 5 months old. Time is flying by and I honestly wish I could make it stand still. The past 5 months have been the most exciting, fun and joyous times of my life. I absolutely love being Elliot’s mom and am honored to call her mine…I just love that little girl so much! So, here’s a little 5 month update…excuse the poor picture quality, these are all from my phone, this is the 1 reason I want an iPhone!
Elliot, at 5 months:
- you really love your mama and daddy…but right now you really love mommy! Whenever anyone is holding you, if I am in the room, your eyes are locked on me.
- you can sit for about 20-30 seconds unassisted, but mommy is always right there to catch you so you don’t bonk your head on the floor…we really need to get some rugs…
- you are trying SO hard to roll from your back to your tummy, but you haven’t figured it out yet.
- you love to suck on the washcloths when you are taking a bath….mommy lets you, daddy doesn’t…he thinks it’s gross!
- you have been sleeping until after 8 every day (and you go to bed at 7:30!!), we have been having to wake you up every morning. You are also starting to take longer naps. Lately you have been taking at least one 2 hour nap, sometimes two…those are good days.
- you put your fingers in your mouth when you get nervous. As soon as we start throwing you in the air or playing rough with you, your fingers go right to your mouth and you start smiling.
- you sit forward facing in the stroller on our walks and you really love looking at everything!
- you LOVE to look at Jack and you always try to touch him when he walks by…but he never lets you.
- you have a very high pitched, girly scream, and it is hilarious.
- you LOVE the Jumperoo. You sit there and bounce, play with the toys and talk until we take you out – I think you would stay there all day if we let you!
- I hate to say this, but you are kind of a scaredy cat. You startle very easily and your pouty lip comes out and you start crying a very girly cry when you get startled/scared. You especially get overwhelmed in crowded/loud places…we need to work on this!
- If we are holding you in our laps you just want to stand and bounce…nonstop. The other day at church you bounced for 20 minutes, I thought my arms were going to fall off.
- you are very, very, very cute!!!!!
I love you sweet girl, and I am so happy to be your mama!!!!!
I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time now, but just haven’t had the time to sit down and really hammer out my thoughts. The past 4.5 months have been the most shaping and amazing months of my life.
I never really wanted to have kids – I thought it would mean I would miss out on all of the “fun stuff” like traveling, seeing movies when I want, doing what I want whenever I want, and losing my own social life which seemed like the most horrible thing in the world. I babysat A LOT in high school and college, spent several summers nannying and thought I knew it all about raising kids…which is what made me not want to have them! When I babysat all I wanted to do was put the kids to bed as early as possible and just get on with my own agenda of watching TV, I got super annoyed when they actually wanted me to play with them, and just generally hated babysitting, so I figured I would hate having a kid because it’s just babysitting for the rest of your life, right?
Wow. I can’t even begin to say how very, very wrong I was. I just don’t even think I have the capacity to describe how much I absolutely adore being a mom. To love someone so immensely from the moment they are placed in your arms is an absolutely unexplainable feeling…I honestly can’t even comprehend the magnitude of God’s love for me knowing that what I feel for Elliot is only a fraction of how He loves me.
Yes, our social life has definitely changed, but not in a bad way. We have dinners with friends at home a lot more than we used to instead of going out which has led to deep, deep community and such rich conversations (and saving a lot of money!!)….all while our sweet girl snoozes away in the other room. We still have weekly date nights out and I treasure that time so much more than I ever did before…time to focus on my husband and do the things we love to do. Traveling is definitely different (and a little more complicated now), but I am so excited for the fun adventures we will take our little family on and the experiences we will get to help create for our kids…how fun will it be to see these things through their sweet eyes and imaginations?! At the end of the day (usually!) I am not ready for her to go to bed yet because I just love playing with her, seeing her sweet smile and hearing her little giggles…what a treasure those sweet moments are. I really can’t even explain it, it has been the most beautiful surprise I have ever been given in my life.
I think the biggest lesson I have learned in my short time as a mom is that it’s not all about me. I don’t think I realized before how much I focused on myself. I’m not trying to say focusing on yourself is a bad thing, but I think without realizing it, I felt like the whole world was rotating around me. It was all about making more money so I could:
- have more stuff
- have a cooler house
- buy clothes
- go to nice dinners
- etc, etc, etc
but in the past few months I have really learned it’s absolutely not all about me, and life is absolutely not about obtaining “stuff” to achieve happiness. It’s also not all about Elliot, or Chris, or our family…there is so much more! My prayer as we raise our children is that they are always thinking of and caring for others before they think of themselves. They aren’t going to have all of the coolest toys or the nicest clothes, all the newest gadgets or live in the biggest house…I want our family to be outward focused…loving our neighbors, our friends, the widows, the orphans, the homeless, the hurting….all for the sake of the gospel.
Have you had the moment in your life when you realized it’s not all about you? What was that like for you? Did it change the way you acted?
more lessons from motherhood to come!