Our Biggest Calling

Dear Mom, is it, that somedays your job seems insignificant? Somedays do you question your journey? Do you wonder if any of it matters?  Let me tell you mama; it matters.  It all matters. You are significant and what you are doing; THIS IS SIGNIFICANT.

“The enemy wants to convince you to leave your assignment because it is insignificant.”  I recently heard such a statement and I took pause.  You see I had begun to believe the lie that the mundane tasks of motherhood weren’t as important as I had once believed.  I started to feel envious of those that were adventuring overseas, adopting another child, fostering and diving in to full-time ministry.

What I forgot was that I had been given an assignment to make disciples, just like my friends that were jetting off to foreign lands, gaining university degrees to serve the least of these, and opening their homes to orphans and widows. And then I heard someone say, “Plan to do something so big for God that without Him you would fail.”  I was feeling defeated, but I had lost my focus.

Being a mom; this is a big gig and this was what I had always wanted.  What I didn’t know, was how big this was going to be. I had prayed for blessing, for a miracle and now here I was in the pouring rain of “blessing,” but instead of dancing in the rain, I was running from it.  The enemy had tried to convince me that I was just a mom; that what I was doing wasn’t really making a difference. My patience was thin.  Most jobs around our house came with dread and frustration.

So my friends, if you are like me, feeling like maybe your call to motherhood is less than significant.  Let me tell you, that is a lie! We aren’t only parenting we are discipling, and we have been called, “for such a time as this.”  It is time for us to stop running from the rain and start dancing in it, so we can launch these little world changers off into the great unknown.  Heidi St. John says this, in her new Becoming MomStrong; “We need to surrender ourselves to what God wants us to do.  We need to be willing to do what He says is best, not what our flesh wants or what the world says we should do… My greatest accomplishment as a mom may not be something I do-but someone I raise.”

In her book, Becoming MomStrong: How to Fight with All That’s in You for Your Family and Your Faith Heidi St. John says, “The journey we are on is designed to help us trust God in ways we don’t expect and can’t foresee.”  There are times on this journey where we will feel less than.  The pull is real. It’s not until we are in the moments of complete surrender deep in the trenches of motherhood, that we can see that “God’s purpose is good.” Perhaps our biggest calling is motherhood, and without the Lord I know I would fail at it most everyday.

Why I Took My Kids Clothes Away

There wasn’t usually a day that went by that didn’t start with tears. Either their favourite shirt was in the laundry or the third pair of pants they tried on didn’t feel right. With numerous outfits being tried and tossed aside on any given day, I would find dresser drawers spewing with unfolded clothes and of course the pyjama drawer was now filled with socks, hoodies and the odd t-shirt. Not to mention finding freshly folded clothes in the depths of the dirty laundry hamper! Something had to give. So when my  favourite, Jen Hatmaker wrote about reducing her wardrobe for a month, I latched on to the concept.

 

I sent each of the kids into their rooms with a garbage bag, a rubbermaid tote and a good attitude! 🙂  The garbage bag was to put all the clothes they no longer wanted, that we could donate to our local thrift shop.  The tote was to put clothes they liked and thought maybe they would wear again, but likely wouldn’t need for the next month.  The goal was to end up with seven outfits in their drawer.  These seven outfits would get them through the next month.  I was to hear no whining, arguing or complaining about clothing choices over the course of the month.  If I heard complaining, I told them I would extend our “clothing fast.”  It was a big job.  If you decide to take on this task with your children, allow an hour or two per child.  Once our project of sorting and organizing was complete all three of the girls had seven outfits each in their drawer.  All three felt accomplished.  They could see what was in their dresser and closet now. I believe that a huge stressor was removed from their daily decision making because we narrowed down the choices they had.

 

Once they had their clothes organized I headed into my closet and narrowed down my wardrobe as well.  I picked a pair of black yoga pants and a hoodie, a pair of black jeans and a grey t-shirt from one of my favourite adoption organizations.  I also chose 3 blouses, a pair of leggings and 2 pairs of skinny jeans.  The rest of my clothes got moved to the farthest corner of my closet.  I was nervous about my selection but was bound and determined not to be a prisoner to my clothing.

 

Well yesterday was the end of our clothing fast.  I was allowed to choose anything in my closet to wear.  I stood in front of my clothes for almost 10 minutes.  I pulled several outfits out of my closet and ended up with a huge mess on my bed.  So not only did I waste 10 minutes finding something to wear, I also had 10 minutes worth of work cleaning up the mess I had created.  So I learned something.  My clothes waste my time, my thoughts and my energy.  I have decided that I will choose another handful of outfits for the month of April. I don’t need choice.  I need clothes in my closet that I know for certain I will wear.  I’m certain, I won’t keep the same outfits in my closet from last month as I am quite sick of them at this point! Haha!

 

My girls have been dressing each day with ease.  The mountain of laundry I am faced with each week has turned into a hill. One declared today that she doesn’t want her clothes back because it made her room too  messy. Another said she thought it was simpler to have fewer clothes in her drawer and the other is begging me to get the totes out of the garage so she can fill her closet back up!  We are going to get the totes out and we are going to go through them again.  The outfits we didn’t miss are going to be given away, and the ones we remember and think we will wear this month will be put back into the drawers.  It is my goal to end up with 14 outfits.  That should be plenty.  It will give the kids plenty of outfits for play and special days but will also be a manageable number or items in their dressers.

 

If you ever felt overwhelmed by the laundry, the untidy dressers, or the time and tears wasted on deciding what to wear, I strongly recommend working with your child to choose 6 or 7 outfits.  Be sure to choose outfits that fit and feel right and your child is certain to wear in a month.  Same goes for you mom!  Narrow down your wardrobe.  You don’t have to get rid of all of your clothes, but chose 6 or 7 outfits for yourself that you find yourself gravitating to most days.  choose outfits that feel comfortable but also be sure to pick something that you can wear out for dinner or a coffee date with a friend.  I dare you to try it for a month.  Maybe you’ll learn something about yourself. I didn’t realize how much time I spent on my wardrobe until I had gone with a smaller one.  I think when I go shopping, I’ll give my purchases more thought.  If I don’t think I could where it every week, I likely won’t buy it.

 

Let me know what you think.  Would you try something like this?  If you have done an experiment like this before, were you able to stick with a limited wardrobe, or is your closet jam packed again?

 

Day 20

 

We are twenty days into our 30 day, no sugar challenge, and let me tell you that it feels great to have stuck with the plan.  There have been a few slips along the way like the three restaurant meals we had while out of town for the weekend, or the night hot chocolate was served at a skating party; but for the most part I can say we have followed the “rules.”

 

 

 

Here are the top 5 Reasons eating whole has been good for our family:

  1.  The mood swings and energy levels have improved for all of us.  I am seeing better concentration levels in the kids and I’m not feeling so exhausted when the afternoon rolls around.
  2. The kids are not constantly asking for snacks.  I often have a tray of fruits or veggies out on the counter.  They walk by and munch as they please.  In the past I think the kids would have a sugar crash and feel tired and sluggish in the afternoon.  We would try and repair that feeling with snacks, like sweetened yogurt, crackers or muffins and cookies, which would lead to another sugar fix and then a crash.  
  3. Nobody is begging to go through a drive thru, every time I get behind the wheel of my car.  It’s true, I would often grab a coffee on my way to wherever and the kids would all pitch in their orders for a drink or snack.  Now I bring my coffee from home and no one is hounding me for a treat… it’s sweet relief mamas!
  4. My bank account is thanking me.  I’m not spending unnecessary dollars on treats and drinks, which quickly adds up to a regular expense.  We are also meal planning 90% of our meals, so left overs are being eaten and there is much less food waste at the end of a week, which means more dollars in my bank account.
  5. We are eating to fuel our bodies, rather than fill a void or satisfy a craving which also means my jeans are fitting better and the guilt of eating poorly is disappearing.

This is just the beginning for our family. I have been deeply touched by Jen Hatmaker’s book “7.”  The book is described, as a “call toward Christ-like simplicity and generosity that transcends a social experiment to become a radically better existence.”  Cutting back on treats and sugars this month has been a tipping point. It’s made us realize that cutting back is doable.  It has clued me in to the fact that we have and consume too much and we’re prepared to make a shift!  I keep telling the kids that this experiment is about to get RADICAL.  We’ll see how radical they feel next month as they figure out what 7 article of clothes they want to wear for an entire month!!!

As Jen wrote the book, some of her friends took part in certain aspects of the experiment.  We’d love to have company and accountability on this journey, and would welcome you and your family along for the ride!  Be blessed my friends.

 

xox MELISSA 

 

(here is the link to 7, if you are looking for an excellent read and a challenge )

Discovering a Sugar Sensitive Child

Many of you know that we have struggled with the little man’s behaviour around meal times. He could be off the charts joyful and fun to be around but he could also be irrational, defiant and downright miserable. We were slowly learning how to deal with this behaviour and adapting and recognizing when it was time to excuse ourselves from certain settings but I was convinced that if he would just eat his moods would be much more stable.  The problem was, he would eat a big breakfast of pancakes, cereal, or yogurt and then refuse to eat much for lunch, be so frustrated in the afternoon after nap that he would end up with another yogurt, slice of toast or some crackers.  Then we would try our very hardest to get him to take a few bites of dinner.  Meal times were exhausting because he seldom ate.

In eliminating sugars, I have started reading labels.  Low and behold, his favourite cereal, Rice Krispies has sugar listed as the second ingredient! So even though I wasn’t adding sugar to his cereal, he was getting a good dose to start the day!  I was shocked because I thought it was one of the healthier choices in the store.  The greek yogurt was no better!  Loaded with sugar! So basically I was starting my kids out with a sugar high every morning.  I have learned that for some kids, their brain chemistry when added with sugar can create a vulnerability to acting out and frustrated behaviour.

So for two weeks now, we have paid closer attention to what we are fuelling our bodies with.  We are eating oatmeal topped with raisins and apples for breakfast, homemade soups and breads for lunch and limiting the sauces our food is cooked in at dinner time.  It was about 10 days in that I said to my husband, “I think we had a sugar addict in our house.”  We haven’t been having to force feed our little one.  His fits of frustration and grief at every meal have almost disappeared.  He is happy to try new foods and even ate an entire piece of fruit last night  after his dinner!

Two weeks ago, we had a little boy in our house that literally crashed at noon needing a nap because he was so grouchy.  Today we are going without a nap because everyone is happy and playing nicely.  If it’s anything like the last week, he will be ready for bed at 7pm and sleep until 7am.

Yesterday morning we let the kids each have a bowl of  Froot Loops for breakfast at the hotel.  About half an hour later, the littlest one was so upset.  He was grumpy and frustrated.  He didn’t know what he wanted to play with or what he even wanted to do!  It was confirmation that we were on to something with the sugar free meal plans. We hadn’t seen behaviour like this in almost two weeks!

I could go on and on about the transformation we have seen over the last 2 weeks. It has been nothing short of miraculous!  If you think your kids struggle with behaviour and attention disorders, I would highly recommend trying a modified diet and seeing if you notice any change in mood, energy levels or sleeping patterns.  The change has been so significant that we most certainly are going to work on maintaining this lifestyle.

I’d love to hear from you!  Have you noticed an increase level of energy, better sleep patterns or better mood since reducing the amount of sugar in your diet?

 

 

Created to Crave

As I have been preparing for and thinking about giving up sugar, I have been completely focused on the health benefits.  I saw sugar as a problem in our house and wanted to eliminate some of the negative effects sugar has had on our moods, our energy levels and our weight.  In the past, when I have gone without sugar I have found myself craving what I “can’t” have.  I keep thinking, if only I could have a piece of cake or just a little cookie I’d be satisfied.  If you are like me, when you start craving, you start hunting to satisfy that craving.  I’ll dig for chocolate chips in the back of the pantry, a slice of toast with jam on it, or a scoop of icing from the half used container in the fridge…(you get the picture).  The end result is often guilt and a realization that food has won again.  And quite honestly, I am never really satisfied with what I have eaten, when I am eating to fix a craving.

If I’m celebrating, I celebrate with food. If I’m frustrated or upset, I comfort with food.  I crave food.  I’ve started to wonder, this week, what would happen if rather than craving food, I craved Jesus.  What would life look like if I ran to Jesus with my greatest joys and my biggest struggles, rather than to the bag of chocolate chips in the pantry?

I’ve been frustrated because I think that deep within our souls we were created to crave.  The unfortunate part is that I have spent so much of my time craving what is not healthy, growing bad habits and creating a rut that is tricky to get out of.  What if God put a desire in us to crave, but to crave Him, rather than food?  1Peter2:2-3 “Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.” I’ve realized that I need to crave holy habits; to run to His Word, to conversation and quiet mediation with the Lord.

So, I’ve decide that it’s not wrong to have cravings.  Cravings are healthy and built into us for a reason.  It is what we are satisfying our cravings with that can be destructive.  So this month when I find myself ravenous and in desperate need of something sweet, I’m going to thank the Lord that I was created to crave and then I will run to Him.  I will dig into the word and spend time in solitude asking to be filled with more of him.  I was reminded this week that God cannot work in my life unless I am willing to put the work into making that happen.  So a sugar fast, is a reminder to me, that I need to put some work into a making a relationship with my Saviour happen.

Psalm 34:8, “Taste and see that the Lord is good (sweet). Oh the joys of those who take refuge in him!”

 

(Some of you have asked how I am liking my Inspire Bible.  I am loving it, although I feel like I need to get a bit braver with how I embellish the pages.  It has helped the Word to come alive as I study.)  I have included my amazon associate link to the NLT version of the Inspire Bible, if you have been on the hunt for a journaling bible.