Mom Quandaries — How to Make Confident Choices

o-CONFUSED-STUDENT-facebook

I tell you, from the moment you become a mom, your head starts to spin.  All of a sudden you are faced with all of these critical choices.  Do you breastfeed?  For how long?  What if it doesn’t work?  Do you have your baby sleep in the same room or bed as you?  Do you let them cry?  Do you use cloth or disposable diapers?  Do you spend the extra money to go organic?  What do you do when your child gets older and hits, throws a tantrum, bites or screams?  How and when do you discipline them?

The thing is, you’re so caught up in a whirlwind of chores, childcare and exhaustion that you can’t even think straight to know how to make these choices!

IMG_0002 (3)

You think that it will get better when they get older, but then your mind is reeling from trying to keep up with all of the activities, and the clutter, and the piles of paper that accumulate every time you turn your back.  You’re trying to decide what kind of schooling your children should have, and how to keep them from fighting, and how to get them to do chores, and what to do when other kids are mean to them.

img_0006-e1519397409766.jpg

img_00101-e1519397025274.jpgAnd you’re sure you will get relief when they’re teenagers, but somehow there’s even less time.  And there are even more difficult decisions.  When can they start dating?  How do you prepare them for college?  What do you do about bad influences?  How much do you control where they go?  When should their curfew be?  When can they drive?  Who can be in the car with them?  Will you be the world’s strictest mom, or the person they can talk to?

IMG_0010

As moms, our life is a quagmire of Mom Quandaries.  It’s up to us to make the right choices so our children will grow up to be healthy, well-adjusted, responsible, successful and have faith.  It’s too much!  In fact, each choice feels like too much because we feel the weight of our child’s future on our shoulders.

So moms, I giving you the advice that I would give to my 20 something self as I picture her sitting in a disheveled house, surrounded by rowdy kids, and feeling completely inadequate to determine what to do.

IMG_0007

I would give her these verses:

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (Prov. 16:3)

“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”  (Prov. 3:6)

Sister moms, God has our back!  I can’t state it strongly enough. If we will continue to commit our lives to him, HE will work with the choices we make and help things go well.

Our stress comes because we can’t believe this.  It’s too scary.  There’s too much at stake.  So our decisions become too much about us, and not enough about God.  We put enormous pressure on ourselves to make the right choice.  We act like it’s all up to us.  Because when it comes to our children, we have to stay in control.  We can’t leave things up to chance.

This is what the LORD says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the LORD.”  Jeremiah 17:5

We really, really need God to be a big part of raising our children.  And because it’s so hard for us moms to let go, my next piece of advice is to pray, pray, pray!

“But I don’t have any time,” you say.  “My children get up at the crack of dawn.”

I remember one time when I was at the end of my rope.  My youngest daughter was a baby, and she wasn’t gaining weight.  I was so worried and afraid.  She cried all day, and my days were this crazy blur of trying to take care of her and trying to stay on top of my other two toddlers.  I finally got up one morning at 4 AM, and just prayed, and kept praying until I could finally trust God.  Yes, I was exhausted for the rest of the day, but I had a peace that was worth it.

IMG_0001

And that is what we need, as moms.  I know, this blog is supposed to be about making decisions, and Mom Quandaries.  What I am saying is that you can’t make good decisions unless you find a way to truly give it to God.

Next, you need to seek wisdom from the scriptures.  When I had that third baby, I remember how I would finally get all of the children to sleep at night, and then, instead of just collapsing, I would read the Bible like a starving person, looking for that thing that would click and give me some kind of hope or strength to keep me going.  I always found it.

And then I wrote it down.  I kept a list of “life-saving” scriptures.  I would read them whenever I needed to keep my sanity.

Moms, this is so vital.  We need truths that will ground us, so we can make decisions from a good foundation.  “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives.” (II Tim 3:16 NLT)

These truths tell us the core principles of a life that really works, not a treadmill kind of existence.   They remind us that if we do all kinds of great things, but forget to love, it is worthless (I Cor 13); that we actually need to lose our life to save our life (Luke 9); that we have to guard against putting our children ahead of God.  (Luke 14:26)

These truths also keep us from giving way to fear.

Fear plays such a huge part in decision making for moms.  You know, we didn’t used to be Nervous Nellies.  We were willing to try all kinds of stuff without thinking of the consequences.

But now, as moms, we see the peril in every situation.   We see the accidents waiting to happen.  We see the health concerns.  We see the bad influences.   We see the potential for our children to go in the wrong direction and ruin their whole lives!  (Yes, we are drama queens.)

IMG (3)

IMG_0022

Fear is why we have a hard time making decisions.  So here is the sum of my advice to moms about decision making:  you have to make a decision out of faith, not fear.

“You are [Sarah’s]  daughters if you do what is right and refuse to quiver in fear.”  (I Peter 3:6)

You have to make a decision out of faith that God is with you, and he is good, and you can rely on that goodness.  And then you need to hold tightly to your faith.  Because there will be times when it will seem like it’s all falling apart and your child is hurdling towards a chasm of danger.  At that point, everything in you will scream that you need to take matters into your own hands.

And maybe there is something you need to do.  But don’t ever let go of God’s hand.  Don’t ever stop having faith that he is with you, working on your child’s behalf.  Don’t be tempted to think that if you can just make the right decisions, you’ll keep your children safe.  Because our faith isn’t in our decisions, it is in God.

When I was raising my children, I thought I could figure it all out, and do everything right, and my kids would turn out great.  So I gave my life to God, taught my kids all about him, got them involved in the church, and helped them have good friends and activities.

img_0002.jpg

But they still had some majorly scary bumps.  It was a very low time.

Here is the verse that sustained me,  “My grace is sufficient for you.”  (II Cor 12:9)  I realized that I couldn’t figure everything out, but that his grace was enough to get me through, one day at a time.

The best decision you can make is to trust God, each day, that he will give you exactly what you need to raise your children for that day.  He may not show you how to fix everything for the rest of their lives.  But he will provide the direction, wisdom and intervention you need for the day.  Just like he gave the Israelites manna in the desert, which was only enough for the day, he will give you your daily bread.

In conclusion, the goal of this blog is to help you look to God in decision making, and not get stuck in all of the pressures and fears.  But I do want to offer you some practical nuts and bolts as well.  Let me leave you with a few things that may help as you face your maternal dilemmas.

  1. Articulate clearly what your options are. Write down the pros and cons.
  2. Articulate your core values. It’s easier to make a decision when you’re clear on what is important to you.  Weigh your pros and cons accordingly.
  3. Determine your long term goals. It’s helpful to see where you are aiming.  Then you can determine which steps would best get you there.
  4. Count the cost. “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?”  (Luke 14:8) This verse has to do with following Jesus, but it’s still a good principle.  Look at what your decision will require of you, and decide if you can realistically give what is needed.  When you do this, be honest with yourself about your weaknesses.  Our emotions have us wanting to do all kinds of wonderful sounding things, but when we act on them, we’re like, “What was I thinking?” For instance, when I had my first child, I loved having a baby so much I thought it would be great to get pregnant again right away.  Boy, did I not count the cost!  It was very hard.
  5. Ask, “What would I regret the most?” Often, what helps me make a decision is asking myself which path I would wish I would have taken.
  6. Ask for advice.Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”  (Proverbs 15:22.) There’s such pressure these days to figure it out on your own.  But God says it’s good to get all kinds of input.   I don’t know how I would have raised my children without the wisdom of older, godly women.  But here’s what’s funny to me.  I just watched this documentary on new moms in China.  They go stay at a mom hotel for a month and pay someone to come help them with the baby.  The tradition is to have their mother in law help, but, as one mom explained, “times are different.”  They don’t want the old school voice of experience.  They want the current “expert.”  Are you like that?  Will you listen to the voice of experience, or are you only interested in the current experts?  We tend to mistrust authority and the old ways.  But God decreed that the older women are to teach the younger ones.  (Titus 2:3-4)
  7. Determine the spiritual impact. How will this choice affect your walk with God?  Will it make it harder for you to have time for personal devotionals or church attendance?  Resolve to act on your belief that if you seek the kingdom first, everything else will be given to you as well. (Matt 6:33)
  8. Keep it in perspective. Is it really so important?  Is it the hill you want to die on?  I know one woman who was determined to breast feed her baby.  Nursing didn’t work for her, but she could pump.  Yet the pumping took so much of her time, and she kept with it for so many weeks, that it really did a number on her sanity and her marriage.  We get in that kind of crazy zone when we’re moms.    We need perspective to get out of it.
  9. Make your best decision and move forwardDon’t obsess. Don’t dither.  We keep trying to make the perfect decision.  So we make no decision.  We don’t need to be rash, but we do need to push through and act, and then trust God that he will make our path straight.
  10. Fast. “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2) Fasting can give you spiritual clarity and move your heart to trust more.

As I look back at my mind-muddled self of 30 years ago, I want to tell her the same thing that I want to tell you:  be more at peace.  Love God, and trust him, and teach your children to do the same.  That is the really important choice, not the stuff you’re stressing over.   

Family Christmas 2012

I think of King Solomon, who was said to be the wisest man.  He went after wealth, knowledge and accomplishments and gained them all.  His conclusion about them was, “Everything is meaningless,”  and that whole duty of man is to “fear God and keep his commandments.” (Ecc 1:2)  The sad thing was that Solomon didn’t hold to this wisdom.  “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God.”  (I Kings 11:4a)  The really sad thing was that his offspring paid the price.  As a consequence, God took the kingdom away from his son, Rehoboam.  (II Kings 11:11-12)

Sister moms, let us resolve to never stop looking to God.  That is what our children really need.

Yes, fight for your children every day.  But then take a deep breath, put your hand in Jesus’s hand, and walk forward with assurance.  Our days of mothering may seem crazy, and the Mom Quandaries may seem impossible, but His grace will always be sufficient.

“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”  (II Chronicles 20:12)

“Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” ( Ps 143:8b)

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Mom Blogs

4 responses to “Mom Quandaries — How to Make Confident Choices

  1. Yesenia Bertl

    This was really convicting Kat. You have such a way of putting things into perspective. I see how I’m not making God a priority and how I’m relying on human strength much more than God’s strength. P.s. i love all the family pictures!

  2. OK…. This is crazy… I tried to reply twice now to your amazing BLOG and it I have tried to write this now three times and it keeps erasing it…. I am not one to leave small comments. I usually write a lot, so this is very frustrating…. ARG!!!

    So here comes the third rendition of the comment I wanted to leave you… After this if it isn’t going to get to you then I give up..

    Dear Kat,
    First I wanted to thank you for your Candor. It is always so refreshing to see what you have to say and to read the scriptures you have placed in your blogs. I am very grateful. As you know I overthink things and analyze things so much. It is a good thing to be analytical but a very bad thing to be stuck in the mire of over-analysis. Actually it probably is sinful since it does denote that somehow I think I can out think any situation…

    You know what I am talking about. The decision to move had us in a tailspin for several weeks. There were so many considerations. I first wanted Austin, and to stay here due to the fact that it made more logical sense. We have a house that we just bought, we owe the IRS and moving would incur another cost that we just can not afford, our kids have a school that they are familiar with, and there is a church here with a kids Kingdom that although has its own issues it still has many teens. My mother lives here, and although we are at odds right now due to her behavior towards Jason, I just did not ever really want to be too far geographically from her. And then there was Enterprise, An opportunity that does not present itself often, we would return to beloved friends and we could perhaps make an impact on the community for God. Jason gets to fly and teach flying something that he loves. It could be amazing. So what is the right choice? We were waffling back and forth between these two choices…

    The negatives of moving were obvious as well. We would be leaving a larger church community. Our kids would have another move tagged to their belt and its been too many moves to count. We would have to really work hard to connect our kids with other teens in the state of Alabama or even Georgia. Many miles in the car and may hours driving… Don’t get us wrong we drive a lot… but we really despise it now. Staying would also have some negatives. We live in the modern day of Sodom. The lifestyle here in AUSTIN is very LBTGQ proactive. Not just accepting but promoting. Our kids are already being indoctrinated by the schools here. My youngest daughter has a friend who is in 5th grade claiming BISEXUALISM. At 5th grade. My daughter stated that its the ‘cool’ thing to be. And I see how that is affecting the grades above her as well. Our kids know the Biblical worldview and aren’t so much into that, however it becomes very confusing. ITs very hard to counter what they see and hear all day. Also staying here can really make us complacent in our outreach of others. That is the danger of larger churches. I truly believe in the ‘house church’ modality. It seems very biblical to me.

    So having all that being said, I chose ENTERPRISE… I figured… well if that is were we are then GOD will help us anywhere. He is in control. Enterprise would be something Jason would want more. As I told him he preceded to tell me he chose AUSTIN. WHAT?!? That was the way my head was leaning but my heart wanted to give him what he wanted and trust that GOD will care for me, and my family.

    He stated that it made more logical sense. Then as we came home from our dinner last night, our daughter stated for the first time really what her heart wanted. she had always stated that she wanted for her DAD to fly and she wanted Enterprise. She is very heartsy and loves her DADDY. But when she heard me state that I chose Enterprise, I suppose her heart felt the freedom to express itself. She stated in the quiet car, ” Daddy, I want to stay here.” We were quiet for a minute and then asked why. “I don’t want to leave my friends, they care about me and that is new to me.” She has moved so much that consistency in friendship relationships were not there. She decided to be totally honest with us. So there we have it. I think we are staying in AUSTIN. So I pray to GOD that he will grow us where we are planted and that he will keep our souls in the hollow of his hands. That we can comitt this decision to him and that he is not surprised nor unable. That he who is KING will make our paths straight. I loved the use of 2 Chronicles 20:11 that we often don’t know what to do but our eyes are on you OUR LORD.

    Kat you helped this process immensely. Without reading the blog yesterday and hearing GOD through you I would not have been at peace to tell Jason I was OK with Enterprise. Which I am ok with even now…

    Thank you so much.
    I love you.

  3. Christina, Thank you for taking the time to tell me what you’ve been going through. I feel closer to you, hearing it, and I understand so much more how hard it has been. I am glad the blog helped. I am even more glad that God worked in an amazing way to help you in your decision making. That is what we need to do — step out and make the best choice we can out of fear, not faith, and know that God will work. Love you much as well, and will be sad you are not living closer, although happy you are doing what you feel is best.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s