mommy hacks A-Z

Today what am I thankful for… Many things, but one thing for sure, God’s grace. Because of that, here I am picking this back up. I have planned to write this many different ways but my words seem to escape me in the moments I try to sit and write. Or I feel a level of frustration with myself for allowing “life” to get me so far off track with this blog. I truly don’t know the outcome of this, or why I sense so strongly that God is wanting me to take this journey. But here I am picking it back up. 

Since I started this blog, I have had the idea of writing multiple posts about Mommy Hacks. I continually go back and forth thinking, there is the chance that these hacks won’t be new to you, but on the chance that I could help encourage and help another momma in anyway, here they are.

Mommy Hacks A – Z. Not sure what order they will appear and how often I’ll be adding to this list. Like I mentioned, it has been on my mind since the beginning of this journey even though that was a while ago. I decided today, to start somewhere with this blog. That somewhere is right here, Mommy Hacks A-Z. 

I would like to say first say, that we are all on our own journey and things that may work for me, may not work for you. There is a chance they’ll either work or possibly spark an idea in you, that can help you get out of a rut. To completely counter that (at least for the first two letters… I truly feel that Mommy Hacks A and B are a must. A – B will actually include an extra hidden hack within a letter. So today you’ll get 3 for 2, what a deal! 

Now, like I said these are my thoughts, and they may or may not work for you. But I truly feel as a mommy, it is so important to ARISE before our children do. (Now, there are times we get sick, our littles wake us up during the middle of the night, but on the norm, I truly feel it is vital). Not sure what that might look for you, a cup of coffee/tea, glass of water, devotional, listening to some worship music, praying, reading your bible or just sitting and preparing for what the day has to hold. But I have found that when I can get up and get myself in the right mindset for the day, it helps set into motion our day in a good way.

This one again you may agree with or disagree with. But I do 100% think that it is a must. It is what keeps me grounded, keeps me fed, keeps my focus on truth & life even in the midst of life’s not so enjoyable situations (blow outs… spilled milk… tantrums… deployments… or in our current COVID craziness) as well as the wonderful situations. 

The bonus hack fits under this section.

My husband, David and I were on a date night walking through Barns and Noble just before he left for his deployment. We just love this date night! It might sound strange to you, but one of my best friends introduced us to it. I love that we are able to enjoy a cup of coffee or hot chocolate (because I can’t have caffeine after 3pm or I’ll be up all night!) and walk around the store and browse books, or we can sit and talk, and the occasional time of people watching while we enjoy our beverages.

During this specific date, we were looking at books and trying to find a book that the other person would enjoy but normally wouldn’t buy for themselves. We walked by a coloring book and I mentioned to him how I love coloring but never have the time to do it. He went ahead and grabbed that book saying, “You’ll find time.” My first thought was to laugh, which I think I may have. “Right David, when am I going to have time to fit in coloring… for leisure?”

I am so glad he did! **Back to the bonus hack.** I’m not sure when the idea came to me, but every morning (lately), when I ARISE before my kiddos. I grab my iPhone or iPad and open up the Bible app. I have a yearly Bible app I am going through that helps me read the whole Bible in a year. 

What I have started to do, is listen to my daily reading while I color. The best part of this is how much it helps me focus.  It helps my mind not to wander to all the things that seem to try and take my time away from my daily Bible reading.  Is it just me or does anyone else mind wander when they read their Bibles? I feel like so often the moment I crack open my physical Bible or the app, I remember I need to put “____” on the grocery list, or I was supposed to text/call someone, or I forgot to get the meat to defrost for dinner, ect.. While I am coloring, I am able to really listen to the words, while enjoying coloring which helps fill my love of do any sort of craft.  

I guess a second bonus hack is that when I am having my devotional time. I try to keep a piece of paper/post it note. Then, when my mind wanders to all the things that I need to get done for the day I can jot them on the paper and get to them AFTER I finish my devotional time.

One little extra note with the Bible app, within the different versions of the Bible ESV, NKJV, NIV, ect.. there are different readers for each version. Each of their voices are different… so if you decide to try this idea out, you may need to try a few different versions until you find a voice that doesn’t sound like the teacher from Charlie Brown, “Wha Wa Whaaa Wa”. I am currently listening to the ESV version.

As I am writing this I also want to encourage you in your days of being a mommy, that your spiritual walk and mornings can and will look so very different in the different seasons of being a mommy. Mommy of 1, of 2, of 3.. dare I say of 4 or even 5? What worked well in your devotional time as a mommy of 1 will look very different as a mommy of 3 (which I have been learning  a lot about in the last 7 months). But I want to encourage you, to find what works, and make sure to keep moving forward in your spiritual journey. 

Two questions I’ll leave with you:

1. What mommy hacks would you like to share with others? Something you did and then thought, “gosh I wish I would have known or thought of this years ago!

2. What does your spiritual walk look like now as a mommy? Are you taking the time to continually grow in relationship with Jesus? 

Don’t Worry / Tools for Digging Deeper!

Tips for studying the word and digging deeper.

(SIDE NOTE …. it is starting, at least in the mornings / evenings, to feel like FALL around these parts! Eeek… this Midwest girl is loving it! Although I am learning that my family really needs to dress in layers because the afternoons feel n.o.t.h.i.n.g. like fall. But with that… I am excited to use some fall’ish images)

In the post, Making Time for Coffee, I talked about a tool I love using during my devos time. I wanted to share this tool along with a little of one of my own personal testimonies, or better yet… one of my herStories and how this tool helped me dig deeper in my faith and learning more about the Bible.

The tool is called, Bible by Olive Tree. It is an app that I use on my iPad and iPhone. I believe the app itself free app, and then you can purchase different Bibles and commentaries. (I will mention that I didn’t purchase them all at the same time. I have slowly been adding to my collection for a few years now. Quiet often the app will give away free Bibles and they are on sale a lot!) 

The reason I enjoy using this tool are (the descriptions I have taken from their website):

1. You can study with the resource guide

The resource guide makes it easy to study by presenting all the relevant information in your library alongside your Bible passage.

2. You can customize your experience.

Take notes, highlight verses, bookmark your favorite passages, and watch them all sync automatically to all of your devices. 

I love that when I highlight a verse it highlights it in every version. So, I can switch back and forth easily between versions and see how they vary. I love that as I add notes throughout my “bible” they are all connected. I love that I can parallel two different versions. 

Would you like to know what My MOST favorite part about the app? The note section. Notes can be taken two different ways 1. Notes and 2. Tags. 

I love this section because as I have been reading my Bible over the years and I come across a scripture that stands out to me, I have been “categorizing” them. For instance, I will list some of my categories. Anxiety, Daily Prayers, Deployment, Direction, Finances, Gods Promises… Then when I am struggling with feeling anxious or needing a promise to hold onto, I can open the app and find scriptures that I have already found.

Let’s say, I am feeling anxiety over something, I click on the category I created, “anxiety” and I have 20 verses that I have marked and saved under this section. Here is one of the scriptures I have saved, 

2 Samuel 22:7, “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry entered His ears.”

In Samuel 22: 20b it says, “He delivered me because He delighted in me”

In verse 29, “For You are my lamp, O Lord; The Lord shall enlighten my darkness.

And in verse 33, “God is my strength, and power, And He makes my way perfect”.

OR here is one more example: I click on “Direction”: 

Isaiah 30:21, Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left. 

Now, back to the app. 

The Bibles that I particularly love are the ones that have the Strong’s Numbers attached as well as ones that come with extra study notes. 

For example, I purchased a New King James Version with Strong’s Numbers, then I also purchased the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible Notes. With just these two I am then able to read extra notes from those who have studied and studied the Bible and then also look at words in Greek and Hebrew to try and grasp a better understanding of the words as used in their first context. I also have other versions of the Bible and like I said earlier if I have any notes from my KNJV, they will be on the new Bible I open up. 

Now for a testimony of how this actually played out in the normal life of… ME !

Here is an instance where I, (being led by the Holy Spirit) was able to dig deeper using the Strong’s concordance numbers.  

Here is a short (very summarized) story from when I was pregnant with my Anna.

My uterus was not growing the “average” way they like it to so my doctor wanted me to go in for an extra ultrasound wanting to be on the safe side (which I must say in the Military is a BIG deal to get an “extra” ultrasound. Generally, you only have two. One when you are about 10 weeks and then another for the gender reveal (which they say is really only to do an anatomy scan… but really most of us are looking forward to what little parts we will or will not see on that little black screen). 

At one point, I started to get a little nervous (okay who am I kidding, EXTREMELY nervous) because the tech just didn’t seem to be acting like I had experienced in my previous ultra sound appointments. She was talking at first and then got quiet and wouldn’t really say anything. She finished with telling me that I would be hearing from my doctor. That’s encouraging, right? Yea, uh NO!

A day or so later I received a phone call from my doctor saying Anna’s kidneys looked extremely large and in other areas her sizing just didn’t seem to be growing the way she should be. Even throwing the word down syndrome into the mix.

She set up an appointment for us to be seen by a high-risk doctor and then she added, “but don’t worry it could be nothing.”

R…..I…..G…..H…..T… (blank stare….) Just take a moment to picture (if you know me) my face when she said that. HA, right, no big deal, it could be nothing. 

That Saturday morning I was thinking about all the possible decorations I could make for Anna’s room and the idea of painting a sign that read “fearfully and wonderfully made” came to my mind. I stored it in my thoughts for later then moved on with my day. 

I started doing my devos a bit later when my mom called and said she had been praying for me and felt like the Lord was saying this,

“Anna is fearfully and wonderfully made. He, has inscribed her fingerprints with his finger.”

Then no JOKE, THREE MINUTES later (I went back and checked because it just seemed like it was only a moment before my mom had called me) one of my best friends texted me this,

“Psalm 139:13-14 NIV”

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful I know that full well.

This was definitely a bit encouraging and I did feel a little better… but I was still worried and having negative thoughts.

A week later I woke up and felt as though I needed to dig deeper into that scripture. I pulled out my Bible (iPad) with the concordance and looked it up. The words I’ve bolded were the ones that stood out to me while I was reading so I clicked on them and then the words in the parentheses were some of the definitions in Hebrew. 

Psalm 139:13-14 New King James Version (NKJV)

13 For You formed (created, erect, recover, redeem)

my inward parts (a kidney, an essential organ, seat of emotion and affection);
You covered (protect)me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.

Now I about dropped my iPad when I clicked on the word, “parts”, and read, “a kidney, an essential organ…” This was exactly the part the doctors were worried about. In that moment, I just knew that Anna was going to be okay. 

It was as if the fear literally fell off of me. The worry fell off of me, and I had a peace that God was telling me she was going to be 100% okay.

I then held onto thatscripture as my promise that the Lord formed and protected Anna’s kidney and that I did not need to fear an issue with her development. 

Okay so a big old story to say that one way to try and dig deeper into the Bible is when scriptures stand out to you. Be it during a sermon, or while reading the Bible, or even a devotional type study. If you’re reading something and a scripture just stands out like it is being highlighted on the page, to pause and take note of that. Generally, in my case God is trying to say something to me.

Grace Not Guilt

As I was driving to Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) this morning I had so many great ideas and words flowing through my mind. But now, as I actually have a moment to sit down and type I worry that the words won’t be there. 

Today was a rough morning for me. Not only this morning but yesterday morning was as well. Yesterday I felt like I was “literally” knee deep in spit up. But as my husband would say, literally or figuratively? I was definitely, figuratively knee deep in spit up, toys on the floor, fussy teething baby and another little one who wants (in a very loud voice) another piece of her trick or treat candy. I did, however, get to sweep and mop the downstairs floors (well.. half of it anyway).

I have to take a tiny rabbit trail and say I look at the downstairs and think it shouldn’t take that long to sweep and mop the floor… but that is easier said when I am sitting quietly during naptime…

Today, I was struggling to get out the door to MOPS on time and felt as though from every angle something was slowing me down. (P.S. If you are a stay-at-home mom, you should look for a local MOPS group!) I will share the best part of trying to get out of the door this morning: I was putting on false lashes this morning in practice for our Marine Corps birthday ball this week; I was testing out getting them on and seeing how long they would stick. Garage door open, the kids book bags and my purse were already in the car and all we needed to do was get into our seats and we were off! But my little ham of a boy has been enjoying “roughly” showing his affection with head bumps and his hands all over my face. He basically grabbed my eye and false lash with it. I threw the kids (figuratively again, haha!) into the car, ran upstairs and tried to reapply that lash as fast as possible, then restrained myself from crying on the drive to because the glue was still a little damp!

In the midst of my last two days I felt as though these days weren’t going to end. All I wanted to do was put a movie on and let the kids sit and be calm. All I wanted to do was sit watch with them. But my mind was screaming at me about all the things I should being doing around the house… or all the things I should be doing with the kids (ie. crafts, playing at the park, reading a book, all the “perfect” mommy activities, etc.) not just sitting on the floor and doing nothing for an hour or two. 

I saw this quote on IG from Joanna Gaines, 

“… I know that at times it can be hard to find simple ways to connect with your kids. Especially in the tired and the hard and busy times in life. It can feel like it’s all or nothing. But I really believe it’s somewhere in the middle where the grace is extended and these simple unplanned moments are actually the sweetest. I write this all for any of you out there who may experience “mom-guilt”. I promise you that’s a never ending cycle that leads to nowhere. Replace the word guilt with grace. Look for grace in the moments, the small wins that lead to the greatest investments in their little hearts. From one mom to another, stop being so hard on yourself. Don’t spend another second focusing on failure, instead use whatever time and whatever energy you have and look for moments where grace can be found. Because I’m telling you, this grace is sufficient.”

I don’t even know how to even follow that great quote. So I won’t other than saying: stop focusing on failure, or really who deems what failure looks like. Stop focusing on a perceived failure, stop focusing on guilt, and replace that with GRACE. Give yourself grace momma! 

You are doing a great job!

You are the person God placed in your child’s life to be their mommy!

No one else can do the job like you can!