You Can Have It All (Lies Moms Believe #2)

There are all kinds of messages floating around, especially about motherhood and what yours should look like. I'd like to take a stand for mothers everywhere and toss some of these lies where they belong: in the trash. But first, we have to get to the root of the issue.

What can we do to understand these lies, where they come from, and what the truth actually is?

God has opened my eyes to these lies surrounding motherhood, and He has been declaring how His Word directly speaks to these issues. The best way to destroy anything false is to cut it open with the Sword of Truth.

Last week, we cut down one of the most prominent (if not the biggest) lie that I have seen rampaging through our motherhood: that fear, worry, and anxiety are a normal part of mom-life. That worrying is okay, allowed, and accepted in the Christian culture because it's impossible to remove.

Yeah, we straight-up busted that one.

Today we're moving on to something a little harder to hear, something I'm nervous to talk about because it's so prevalent in our culture today. I see this everywhere and it is hard not to listen, hard not to fall for this desire that gets at the very fiber of our beings.

Man, I want it all. Don't you?

I want to be an amazing mom, sexy wife, and great friend. I want to be fit and healthy, travel new places, be generous, serve in my community, and have the most amazing life. I want to be a woman who can pursue her dreams and goals, and maybe even run a business or publish a book or change the freaking world. I want eat whatever I want whenever I want - but also be really healthy. I want to live large - but also have time to do things slowly.

I mean, there's just no end to the more that we want. Why is that?

This one actually started in the garden of Eden. This is the most basic lie that Satan likes to whisper to us: God is keeping good things from you, but if you go your own way, you can have whatever you want.

It is the lie of More. The lie that God is Not Enough. The lie that God is Holding Out on Us.
"Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, 'Did God actually say, "You shall not eat of any tree in the garden"?' And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, "You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die." ' But the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.' So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths." // Genesis 2:1-7, emphasis added

All Satan had to do was make that forbidden thing look like it would give Eve more than she had right now. That not only would it taste good, but it would make her wiser. And after trying it, she certainly did have more information at her fingertips. But that "greater knowledge" was about evil, sin, and bad things - it did nothing to enhance her life. It only brought her fear and anxiety and shame.

Sometimes, this is how I feel about our current cultural age of knowledge. Information is flowing constantly through our lives. And do you know what this overwhelming tide of information is telling us? "You don't have enough. You need more."

Let me be clear:

I am not condemning any mom for what they are doing. We are all just trying to do our best at this mom-thing, myself included!

You can work, stay-at-home, homeschool, send your kids to public school, whatever. It's not about that. We're not getting legalistic here. You can pursue your dreams and have good things. You don't have to be stuck just because you're a mom.

What I am speaking against are the sins of comparison (looking at other women and thinking we are missing out on what they have) and striving (seeking out things that will detract or distract from the calling we already have in our lives, namely, raising our kids well in the Lord).

You can't have it all. And you weren't meant to.

I'm not saying that you can't do more than one thing. What I am saying is that when you choose to pursue or prioritize something, something else is going to suffer. You get to choose which things will survive in your motherhood.

If you prioritize your marriage, your other friendships might have to take a time-hit. If you prioritize a hobby or career, your housework might have to go into a recession. None of these things are bad. But you do need to realize that choosing one thing always means sacrificing something else - and if we're not careful, we can sacrifice our kids without even realizing it.

Saying yes to one thing always means saying no to something else.

That's why choosing God and His way has to be a daily choice. Other things are constantly going to be vying for your attention, scooting up in line for your heart.
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." // Matthew 6:19-21
Take some time to examine your own heart. Where is the desire for more coming from? Sometimes, there are good longings in your soul, desperate longings for what God has called you to. But often, what is precisely in front of us is all that He has called us to. And we need to do that well first.

A lie that's very closely related to the "you can have it all" myth is this sister-temptation we want to believe: You deserve to have whatever you want.
"Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." // Phil. 4:11-13
God is equipping and supplying you with everything you need to be content in the situation you are in. Striving for more, new, different, or better is going to leave you feeling empty. Honestly, God has not placed big burdens on you for what you need to accomplish in life. He asks for slow, faithful work in surrender to Him.

I want to share what a friend of mine commented earlier this month when I brought up this topic:

"[Believing that you can have it all] often creates resentment against the huge commitment of time, effort, emotions, strength, and selflessness that being a mom requires. It makes it more difficult to sacrifice when you focus on what you are missing, rather than on the incredible joys and rewards of raising your children.
"You can’t have it all; that choice was made when the little one was brought into being. I found it intensely satisfying and joy-filled to be all I could be for my boys and to do motherhood as excellently as I could. (Mostly fell short a lot, but still had the goal). I didn’t resent that I couldn’t still live as if I were childless and footloose. Same with marriage. Saying yes to your spouse means saying no to all others and no to the ability to live for yourself as if you were single. Of course, the biggest truth needed in a mom’s life is forgiveness for the inevitable failures."

I love her heart and honesty in this. She has gone before us young moms and has seen the great blessings that come when we put ourselves wholeheartedly into our motherhood - without fear for what we might be missing out on.

So how can we practically live this out?

  • Examine your heart often in light of the Word.
  • Pray throughout your day, acknowledging that God's purposes and plans for today will often interrupt yours. 
  • Treat motherhood like a long-term marathon - not a sprint to just "get through."
  • When comparison or jealousy sneaks in, actively fight it by thanking God for what that other person gets to be blessed with! (To understand this thankfulness for someone else's joy, read this post.)
  • Come up with a routine for cleaning, organizing, and running your home smoothly. (This is called good stewardship, look it up in the Bible! Allie Casazza has some amazing, free resources for this on her blog and podcast.)
  • Set aside special times for date nights with your husband, self-care for yourself, and one-on-one chunks with your kids. Your time belongs to YOU - use it well!

Motherhood is kind of a lifer-deal. There's no short-term escape; you're a mom now and basically forever. Do you want to spend your days as a burnt-out mess? This is your life; are you who you want to be in this story?

There will be other things in your life besides your kids. Bible studies, work, school, friendships, pursuits, hobbies. They exist as part of who you are. But as things come up and ask you for your time, be sure you are weighing what you have to give against what that thing is offering you. If it's something you want, but it's going to cause your motherhood to suffer, maybe it needs to wait.

Remember, you're not choosing between good and bad things; often, you're simply having to decide between what will be good for you right now and what won't be.

What have you had to say "no" to recently that seemed good at first, but was really sucking the life from your motherhood? What's something you may have said "yes" to, but doesn't seem to be adding to your life?

I've struggled with this, too, as I seek to pursue writing a book. But I can honestly say that while it's something God has asked me to do, it also does NOT get to come before my marriage or my kids. I am easily distracted from my true purposes. Lining up priorities leads to better decision-making.

For further study, head to 1 Corinthians 7:17-14 and 1 Kings 8:17-19.

Worrying is Part of the Job (Lies Moms Believe #1)

My kid is a blank slate.
Motherhood is supposed to be a hot mess.
I worry about my kids; that's what moms do, you know.

Are these things true? Or are they just so common that we've come to accept their presence in our motherhood, without questioning their validity?

I've been confronted recently with the fact that lies have infiltrated how I view my motherhood. When it comes to God's word, to truth, I've always considered myself as standing firm. But lies can come from anywhere, and if you think you've got this parenting thing down pat, it's probably time to reevaluate ("Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall." 1 Cor. 10:12).

Read on if you're ready to hear some hard truths and confront your motherhood face-to-face, without all the masks, comparisons, and lies we like to hear.

Let's dive in to one of the biggest lies that has surfaced over the years in motherhood.

Lies Moms Believe #1:

Worrying is Part of the Job

I've heard women say this a lot, either out loud or with their actions. We live in a world that has convinced us that fear keeps us safe. While it seems like a proactive sentiment, it is really an anxiety issue that disables us.

Somehow, we've started to think that, "Worrying shows I care. It's just a natural part of mom-life!" Bull-crap. Worrying does not show you care - it just shows that you worry, and that you likely have some trust issues with God. And worrying is also not going to keep your kids safe (although it might make them paranoid).

God is the only one who keeps us "safe." (I use quotation marks because, well, "safety" is kind of an illusion. We're not safe, and God doesn't promise to keep us safe on earth. See John 16:33.)

Moms are in charge of little people that seem constantly on the edge of disaster - waving around glasses of milk, sprinting on sidewalks, leaping from staircases, getting on eye-level with all manner of creatures, zooming near busy streets, ohmyword everything. It's exhausting trying to keep them safe. And maybe that's part of the problem.

Of course we need to teach them how to avoid obviously dangerous things (don't go into the road, let's not stick our fingers into the fire, etc.). But in most respects, kids learn a lot from simply throwing themselves into life and seeing what happens. Sometimes they come out scraped and bruised. Other times, they appear without looking the worse for the wear. Life is going to shove our kids around and shake them up a little bit. And our job is to teach them what to do when that stuff actually happens.

It's not our job to worry over what might happen to our kids, nor is it our job to try to protect them from anything bad that could happen.

I'm coming at this from the standpoint of a recovering control freak, so believe me when I say I understand this issue! It's a weakness of mine, but it is a lie that I no longer allow to thrive in my life. Fear, worry, and anxiety stem from a lack of trust in God. And I say that I trust God, don't I?
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones."
Proverbs 3:5-8
Fearing God takes out every other fear in our lives, because God is so much bigger and stronger than anything else we could ever face.

"The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7
Fear, worry, and anxiety come from the need to be in control, and the feeling gets worse during the awful free-fall that comes when we realize that we can't be in control. Only God can. But once we surrender to His will and plan, with thankfulness in our hearts, we are able to have His incredible peace - in every situation.

When the Israelites were trapped and helpless as the Egyptian army headed towards them, panic and fear set in. They started to wish that everything was different and that they had never followed God in the first place. Here's what God says to them:

"And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent."
Exodus 14:13-14

That was a very real, very dangerous situation. And God told them not to be afraid. Even though death seemed imminent, He was asking them to trust Him. Why? Because nothing throws God for a loop. He never has to resort to a "plan B." You are already inside of His plan right now.

Now, I believe that we all have gut-reactions of fear or worry every day that are outside of our control. Why else would God speak so often to our fears? Fear does exist. We all have flashes of thought or knee-jerk reactions that we can't keep from happening. When somebody jumps at you from around a corner, you're probably going to yell and launch yourself three feet in the air. I'm not saying that you have to try to change your human body chemistry to react.

But we can decide what to do with these reactions after they happen. How we move forward is always up to us.

We get to fight the lies with truth. That's what this series is all about: truth as a weapon. (And if you're anything like me, being a Warrior Princess with powerful weaponry sounds highly attractive.)

When fear speaks up in my life, I get to choose: to follow my thoughts down that fearful path, or to turn to Jesus and remember that He is in control, and I trust Him. We follow an all-powerful God that knows everything that is going to happen to us! When did we start doubting that?

That one powerful choice to trust in God instead of dwelling on what we can't control changes our human reactions into opportunities to exercise supernatural faith. Our responses can turn from sinful worrying to grateful praise.

So let's sum this up:
  • God is in control, not us.
  • Worrying is not a normal mom thing; it is a sin of distrust in God.
  • Gut-reactions of fear will happen, but we can choose how to respond to those reactions.

"Say to those who have an anxious heart, 'Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you."
Isaiah 35:4 

What other lies have snuck into your motherhood? Where do you need to take a better hold on truth in your life?

This is the first part in my new series Lies Moms Believe. Next week we'll be delving deeper into the idea that says that you can have it all - and be a mom, too. Be sure to subscribe to my email reminders on the right side of the page so you don't miss out on the rest of this counter-cultural series!

Dig deeper into the topic of worry on your own by studying Matthew 6:25-36.

8 Purposeful Birthday Gift Ideas (for kids ages 6 & under)

These photos are from the twins' 1st birthday a couple of weeks ago.

Approximately 90% of my family was born in August/September (not even kidding), so this feels like birthday season to me. And today happens to be my firstborn's 3rd birthday. I'm super stoked. I'm not one of those moms that bawls about how old her child is getting. For me, progress - and the celebration of it - is only reason for joy. Birthdays have always been special for me because it feels like an opportunity to be reminded that I matter. And rightly so, don't you think?

But sometimes things get twisted around, and the message we send our kids ends up backfiring.

I believe that how you approach holidays (which can be very self-focused) sends a big message to your child about his or her place in your family - and in the world outside. So today, I want to share with you some ideas for how to do gifts for birthdays and Christmas with your kids.