Monday, June 5, 2017

Moms: Let's Stop Drinking the Kool-Aid


“Okay, I’m just going to ask it.” The young mom took a deep breath. A group of us stood around, babies on hips, watching the older kids run around the park. “What do you moms think about…vaccines?” Her last word was spoken in a hush, like an inappropriate word. This new mom was seeking wisdom and advice, but she was afraid of stepping on a landmine. And she did. There were as many different opinions as there were moms – and each held to her opinion with a polite smile and white knuckles.

Moms, it’s time to loosen our grips. It’s time to admit that perhaps we’ve boarded the wrong train – a train we thought would take us to better discernment, but has actually led to fear, anxiety, and judging one another. I’m talking about the mania surrounding our kids’ health. Whether it’s vaccines, essential oils, gluten, GMO’s, or epidurals, we’ve made ourselves susceptible to a very sneaky lie. Not a lie that these things are important and worth researching. (They are.) But it’s the lie that our number one priority as moms is our kids’ physical well-being, and that the physical elements of this world are our greatest enemy.

Misplaced Passion

In our church we recite the Nicene Creed every Sunday. It summarizes our theology and defines our Christian faith. Our seven-year-old enthusiastically busts out the first few lines from memory:We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth…”

As moms there is a strong temptation to allow our opinions to become creeds. We might not write them down or recite them out loud. But our hearts whisper to us that we are defined by our choices. It might sound something like, “I believe in GMO-free foods. I believe in the extended vaccine schedule. I believe in essential oils a, b, and c, but not d, e, or f…”

There is nothing wrong with doing due diligence to protect and nourish our families. Some moms deal with their kids’ debilitating health issues around the clock. But we’ve become imbalanced if our quest for physical wellness causes us to lose sight of our kids' spiritual wellness. God’s Word helps us strike the right balance. In Paul’s letter to Timothy he reminds Timothy of what’s important: Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

Are we as passionate about our kids’ hearts as we are about their bodies? When our passion is misplaced we wind up fighting the wrong enemy. Perhaps we blame our kids’ behavior on a nutritional imbalance at the expense of addressing their sin problem.    

How do we know if our priorities line up with the passage in 1 Timothy? The test is where we spend our time and energy. Our culture is defined by an obsession with research. Every mom can become an expert. But no amount of research will change the fact that we live in a fallen world. We will never reach a perfect conclusion. God’s Word, on the other hand, never changes. It contains “all things that pertain to life and godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3) Do we spend as much time in God’s Word as we do in our research? What would our kids say we are passionate about?

Misplaced Fear

Part of the reason we pursue physical wellness with such passion is because we worship a secret idol: the idol of being guilt-free. What if we do something wrong? What if we feed our kids the wrong thing, or put on the wrong sunscreen, or use the wrong detergent?

When I had my first baby I was obsessed with doing everything “right.” I remember making my own baby food from scratch. I thought I was on the right track, but my research quickly proved me wrong. I made the mistake of making the baby food with store-bought vegetables instead of my own organic ones. Once the baby food was made, I froze it in forbidden plastic. I even made the fatal mistake of covering it with tin foil. The web said it was as good as garbage.

I was a mess. How could I do right for this tiny life when “right” seemed so elusive? The “right” way was actually staring me in the face. I just wasn’t looking in the right place.

God’s Word tells us the right thing to do for our kids – and it has nothing to do with organic baby food or BPA-free plastic. Are you ready? Our job for our kids is to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)

That doesn’t mean we abandon our responsibility over our kids’ physical wellness. But we recognize that physical wellness is not an end in itself. It’s a means to a greater end: pointing our kids to Christ. Our ultimate goal is not to extend their earthly lives as long as possible, but to prepare them for the life to come. This perspective frees us from fear.

Jesus knew we moms would struggle. He knew we would be tempted to let physical cares cause fear. That’s why He lovingly reminds us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

There is a way to be guilt-free and it’s not by getting all of our nutritional ducks in a row. It’s by trusting a sovereign God. We trust His perfect plan for our kids – a plan that takes into account a fallen world, our weaknesses, and even our sin. We fear God, not our environment. In a beautiful logic-defying twist, fear of God produces peace. We acknowledge that He’s in control and He loves us. We recognize that everything we see and touch now will fade away, but we have an eternal hope to offer our kids. And when this physical world fails us again and again we remind ourselves (and our kids) of what David said: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)


Want more gospel-balanced encouragement for moms? Grab your copy of "The Gospel-Centered Mom" - a MUST-READ for moms in the trenches! 
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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Moms: It's not Time to Reap Yet


My second labor experience was my worst. My son was 11 pounds and he was sunny-side up. Going on hour 25 I remember thinking, “This will never end. I will be in labor forever.” That was, of course, a ridiculous thought. But the pain made me lose perspective. I wanted to hold that sweet baby in my arms, but I couldn’t see past the painful work in front of me. I wanted to reap, but I didn’t want to sow.

That’s often how I approach discipline as well. I want the benefits of well-behaved kids, but I forget how much work it takes to get there. I get impatient when my discipline doesn't pay off right away. I teach my little ones all day long about kindness, self-control, and good manners. The next day I wake up to find that I have to do it all over again. Where is the harvest? When do I get to see the fruits of my labor? When I get to the end of one row of soil, there's another one. And another and another. There is the promise of fruit, but some days all I can see is endless sowing.

A couple months ago I went to visit an old high school friend. Her kids are all about five years older than mine. As I shuffled my hoard of boys into her house I immediately noticed her kids’ behavior. They smiled at my boys, took them by the hand, and lovingly let them play with all of their toys. They answered their silly questions with patience and got them drinks of water. They entertained my kids while my friend and I talked. I asked her point blank - “How did you do that?” She smiled, knowingly. “It takes a lot of work. It takes days and days of practice. But it pays off.” 

I saw in my friend a glimmer of hope for my future. Right now I am still on my hands and knees in the soil, planting, planting, planting. I’m disciplining for the same things day in and day out. I’m a broken record of godly character traits and gospel truth. My friend is still planting, too, but her crop is a few years further along than mine. The little green shoots are dotting the soil and every once in awhile she stoops to pick the first sweet fruit of the harvest. 

Lately I have been getting those glimpses of harvest in my own home. Yesterday my 6yr-old knocked his little brother down and immediately helped him up again. He even apologized - on his own! Later I heard two brothers fighting and before I could step in I heard the 7yr-old say, “You boys should make peace with each other. How can you show love to your brother?” I treasured that sweet fruit. But I knew it wasn't time to sit back and enjoy the harvest. Not yet. I still have much sowing to do. 

We get ourselves into trouble with our discipline when we expect to reap during a season of sowing. Discipline catches us by surprise. We think, “Didn’t I already teach you that? Didn’t I JUST discipline you for that?” We’re surprised how hard it is. We're surprised how sinful our kids are and how much work discipline really takes. We want to reap when it is still time to sow. 

We also forget that sowing is a season and every season has an end. If we put off disciplining now, soon it will be too late. Our kids won’t learn to obey on their own. Obedience comes through the seeds of discipline, planted by faithful mamas who tirelessly tend to them. Sowing is slow. It's repetitive. It takes focus and intentionality. Yes, we will break a sweat. Yes, we will get dirt under our fingernails. But soon the days of planting will be over. Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. Discipline might seem endless now, “but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)


"Sara Wallace writes with fresh honesty and droll humor about facing our mommy mess-up moments and how we can  point our children's hearts to the gospel in the process. I finished the book, wishing there was more!" -Tana
Now available on Amazon and Etsy!
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Friday, April 28, 2017

"God, Save My Child" - 10 Salvation Verses to Pray for Your Kids





Moms, there are so many wonderful things we could (and should) pray for our kids. But nothing compares to praying for their salvation. And, since "the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:16)," we mamas have some WORK to do! Our kids are too young to even know what their greatest need is. We need to cry out to God on their behalf. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Clever Dragons: A Review




Technology is making homeschooling very exciting - and also intimidating. The internet is a jungle of educational games, videos, and resources. And it’s mixed in with all kinds of things we don’t want our kids exposed to. I have been wanting to incorporate technology into our daily homeschool routine, but I had no idea where to start.

Until….

Clever Dragons to the rescue!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Beauty and the Beast: Why Christians Can Calm Down


On March 1st my newsfeed exploded with angry moms. Our beloved Beauty and the Beast is GAY.

Well, not exactly. And perhaps that’s where we should start. Is this a “Gay” movie? Or is this just another worldly movie made by worldly people with worldly agendas? Believe me, I'm upset, too. But there is an important difference here worthy of a second look. 

Al Mohler, at the recent Shepherd’s Conference, summarized this distinction well. He said there’s a difference between culture being infused into a movie and a movie glorifying a particular sin. Gay characters will be the norm in movies from now on. That's the agenda. The question we should ask is: Does it glorify the sin, or does it discuss/portray an aspect of culture?

This is the culture God has appointed for us to raise our children in. We need to know how to live in it and interact with it. Our kids are watching us. Our response to this issue will shape how they live within this culture. As we respond to Beauty and the Beast there are two words that should not characterize us as Christian parents.

Naive

If we expect the world to act Christian we will always be let down. Many are crying out, “How could Disney do this!?” Maybe instead our question should be, “What took them so long?” Disney is not a Christian company. Disney is acting exactly the way it is supposed to act.

I think deep down we hope the evil in this world will spare our kids. But evil is no respecter of persons. When we see Disney peddling homosexuality as normal it’s like watching someone pass out candy-covered cyanide to children. We gasp in horror and say, “What’s this world coming to?” But we already have the answer. God tells us that “the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17) For the Christian there are no surprises - only evidences of God’s promises coming true. 

We should be angry at sin, but never shocked. Shock means we got too comfortable here. It means we made ourselves at home in the enemy camp and we were offended when the enemy tried to kill us in our sleep. It means we have forgotten that we are “aliens and strangers.” (1 Peter 2:11) 

Fearful

Have you heard about the gay character in Bambi? How about in The Lion King, Pinocchio, or The Jungle Book? These are just a few of the movies I have heard Christians crossing off their lists this week because of suspicious homosexual undertones.

We can train ourselves to see evil everywhere, but that is not the mark of a discerning Christian. It taints our joy and makes us fearful. This is still God’s world. He created music. He created color. As discerning Christians we want to teach our kids how to take the good and leave the bad.   

So What Do We Do? 

Christians can take comfort in the fact that a gay Disney character doesn’t change anything. Thousands of years before Walt Disney was born King Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) Sin has always been sin. Mankind’s basic need for a savior is still the same. The hope of the gospel is still the same. And as God’s people, our job is still the same as well. 

Yes, Hollywood has an agenda - but so do we. If Hollywood is trying to indoctrinate our kids then we must indoctrinate them first. You must speak of God’s word to your children “when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Deuteronomy 11:19) 


We must raise alien children - children who are not surprised by or afraid of this culture, but know how to impact it for the gospel. We have the beautiful privilege of praying for our kids what Jesus prays for us: “I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one.” (John 17:15)



"Sara Wallace does a wonderful job of taking the practicals of motherhood and relating them to the gospel. I highly recommend this for moms who don't have a lot of time to sit down and do a big Bible study." - Jennifer
Get your copy of "The Gospel-Centered Mom" on Amazon


Also available on Etsy!

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Thousand Year Baby Stage



I was in the baby stage for a thousand years. And I had one million babies. 

Ok, so maybe the baby stage was about seven years. And it was five babies, not a million. But that’s what it felt like at the time. 

I’m in a unique stage of motherhood right now. I just had my fifth baby and my oldest child is 7. I’m currently living in the beginning of the baby stage and the end of it at the same time. 

To all of you mamas in the thousand-year baby stage, I know. 

I know how much you love your babies. I also know your joy is often interrupted by fatigue and that time is standing still for you. I know you cry because you never want them to grow up and you cry because you don’t know how you’re going to make it through the day today. 

During the thousand-year baby stage everyone tells you, “Enjoy every minute of it! It goes by so fast.” There’s just one problem. You’ve never been in a stage of life that moves so slowly. Every night stretches on and on because you are awake for more of it. The days creep by as you meet need after endless need. 

One day my husband was getting ready for work. At the time I had an infant, a 1yr old, and a 2ry old. I looked at my husband with tears in my eyes and said, “I don’t want to do this again today.” By this I meant stepping into the endless vortex of diapers, sleep schedules, potty training, spit-up, teething, peed bedding, and toddler toy clutter. I loved my babies intensely. But, being sleep-deprived for years on end, I couldn’t see past the next five seconds. And the next five seconds were always the same. 

I knew in my brain it wouldn't last forever, but my heart said, “This is it. This is who you are. This is your life. You will be a worn out, sleep-deprived mother of babies forever.” 

And then one day it happened. What every older mom told me about (but I didn’t believe at the time) happened. My babies grew up. If you think having babies is special just wait until they turn into kids. It’s awesome. We have interesting conversations together. They unload the groceries. They pick out their own clothes, entertain themselves for hours, and get their own snacks. They read to me, tell me what they are thinking, laugh at my jokes, and make me laugh until I cry. When I go to bed I can’t wait to wake up and be with them again. For so long I was doing everything for them. Now I get to do things with them.

My infant is two months old. Today I took a picture of his fist. It is so cute that newborns make fists. I want to remember that. I kiss the bottoms of his feet while he grips my nose with his tiny toes. When my big kids go running through the room I hold my baby a little closer. Every day I get to see what babies turn into. They turn into kids. It might not seem like it when you’re in the thousand-year baby stage, but they really do. And it’s not sad. Each stage has it’s own unique beauty that doesn’t leave time to mourn the stages past.

Whether time is standing still or going too fast we can look to God and say, “My times are in Your hands.” (Psalm 31:15) He is a God of seasons. Just as He has created the seasons of the earth, He has created the seasons of our lives. And they are not a moment longer or shorter than they are supposed to be. 

Moms, today might feel long. But today is not the rest of your life. Today is just today. Tomorrow will be different. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,11) 


"Sara Wallace does a wonderful job of taking the practicals of motherhood and relating them to the gospel. I highly recommend this for moms who don't have a lot of time to sit down and do a big Bible study." - Jennifer
Get your copy of "The Gospel-Centered Mom" on Amazon

Also available on Etsy!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

How to Un-Pinterest Your Life


This Saturday Daddy had to go in to work. My five little men and I decided to redeem the day by having a party for no reason. It was hilarious, messy, and oh-so-very UN-Pinterest. There was no theme. There were no fruit kababs or DIY glow sticks. There was no waffle bar or glitter popcorn. Instead we had cake from a box complete with store bought neon blue frosting. We had Spiderman tattoos, paper airplanes, and party blowers leftover from New Years. The word “un-Pinterest” wouldn’t have even crossed my mind a few years ago. It just shows me how much my thinking has been influenced by the internet’s standard of how things should be done.



Pinterest is a wonderful tool for getting our creative juices flowing, but it can also bog us down. When I refer to “un-Pintersting,” I’m not talking about the beautiful inspiration we get from it. I’m only talking about the dark side of Pinterest - the side that makes us feel anxious, inadequate, and discontent. There are four ways we can take the good and leave the bad.

1. Bless, Don’t Impress

I love having people over. But I hesitate to extend that blessing when my floor is sticky and the only clean dishes have Star Wars characters on them. In one of my all-time favorite articles by Jen Wilkin she shares the subtle but heart changing differences between blessing and impressing:

“Entertaining is always thinking about the next course. Hospitality burns the rolls because it was listening to a story. Entertaining obsesses over what went wrong. Hospitality savors what was shared. Entertaining, exhausted, says ‘It was nothing, really!’ Hospitality thinks it was nothing. Really. Entertaining seeks to impress. Hospitality seeks to bless.”


This is my kitchen at any given moment of the day. Pinterest worthy? Of course not. But Pinterest shouldn't be my standard of how I can bless others. I recently saw a friend's kitchen in this state. I was at her house because instead of making time for her dishes she was making time for me. And it blessed my socks off.

2. Family First

I put what I see on Pinterest into one of three categories: 1. This project will bless my family. 2. My family won’t care too much about this project, but it will be fun and relaxing for me. 3. This looks like fun, but it will take needed time away from my kids and other more important tasks.

If it falls into the third category I put it aside. My kids don’t need a Pinterest house and an exhausted mommy. They need simple time with me on the couch reading books. I have limited hours in the day. If I choose to do one thing it means I am choosing not to do something else. I always have to evaluate if it’s worth it.

3. Don’t Hold Out for Perfect.

One time a good friend told me she would never again bake an apple pie. Knowing she was an excellent cook, I asked her why. She said that even though her pies tasted great she could never get them to look like ones she’d seen online. If “perfect” has become our standard for what’s worth it, what’s enjoyable, we are on the slippery slope to not being able to enjoy anything. One of my favorite sites is Pinterest fails.




This mom went for it with those shark cupcakes. And even though hers were a far cry from the Pinterest picture, I bet they tasted great. I bet her kids were thrilled. We don’t do our families any favors by holding out for perfect.

4. Check Your Standards of Others

There hasn’t always been Pinterest, but there have always been judgmental moms. If we’re being honest, that’s all of us. Most of the time we fixate of being judged, but Matthew 7:1-2 tells us the root of that feeling is our own judgmental hearts: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” Ouch. Hits a little too close to home for me. We assume others are thinking about us what we think about them. When we freely show grace to others we are able to show grace to ourselves. The quickest way to un-Pinterest our lives is to stop being critical of each other.

So let’s go for it, moms. Let’s do crafts with our kids that don’t yield anything but a messy dining room table. Let’s have each other over for coffee and sticky floors. Let’s un-Pinterest a little and let our brains and hearts relax.

cover photo


"Sara Wallace does a wonderful job of taking the practicals of motherhood and relating them to the gospel. I highly recommend this for moms who don't have a lot of time to sit down and do a big Bible study." - Jennifer
Get your copy of "The Gospel-Centered Mom" on Amazon

Also available on Etsy!


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Dreaded Bible Reading Resolution........


It's the time of year for resolutions. As a mom of five littles my resolution is just to survive. But even survival requires setting specific goals - especially when it comes to reading God’s Word. We can’t survive without it. The problem with resolutions is we tend to approach them with an all-or-nothing mentality. We set high standards in January and when we can't reach them we completely quit by March. Bible reading resolutions are no different. 

I love seeing moms set Bible reading goals. What hurts is seeing frustrated moms give up and throw in the towel when they can't reach their goals. I'm one of those moms. I've been there. I'm here to tell you that Bible reading isn’t all or nothing. You don't have to get up before your kids (especially when it seems like they never even went to bed). You don't have to have an uninterrupted hour of complete silence (which I haven’t experienced in seven years). 

There are times in life when reading the Bible feels like a huge feast. You sit down, tie a napkin around your neck and dig in. But more often in young motherhood reading the Bible is like clinging to a lifeline - the only shred of sanity our sleep-deprived brains can grasp. And that’s okay. My sister was just here visiting. One afternoon she sat on our window seat with a hot cup of tea and her Bible. As soon as she opened it she was piled with nephews. “Well, that didn’t last long,” she said as she put her Bible down and let them pull her toward the Legos. “Welcome to my life,” I said. 

We might not get to experience long, leisurely times of feasting on God’s Word in this stage of life, but we need to grab onto the Word any way we can. It has to be fresh in our hearts and minds so it’s there when we need it. One night I was so ready for bed, but I knew I hadn’t been in the Word recently. I grabbed my Bible, opened to where I left off and read a chapter. Little did I know I was in for an especially difficult night with the newborn. The next morning I couldn’t string two thoughts together - but precious words that I had read the night before came to mind and strengthened me. I had been reading Exodus 34:6 - “The Lord, the Lord God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness and truth…” I let those words wash over my mind all day long as I struggled through my fatigue. I was so glad I had made time for that short passage before I went to bed. I didn’t feel like I needed it then, but God knew it would very soon be a source of great comfort. 

Thanksgiving 2016 was a weird experience for the Wallace family. I had only been home from the hospital for about a week with baby #5. At the last minute all of the local relatives got the stomach flu and had to cancel the feast. We found ourselves roaming around the snowy town looking for a restaurant. They were all closed. They were open when we didn’t need them, but now they were turning us away. We wound up at a diner eating pancakes. Hardly a Thanksgiving dinner, but we were so glad that one place was open.  

When I get so busy with my daily responsibilities that I don’t make time to soak up God’s Word, it’s like driving past all those restaurants every day without going in. I could stop and grab a bite to eat, but other pressing needs take priority - until one night when I’m in desperate need of sustenance and the doors are closed. I search my heart for memorized verses, something fresh I read that morning, and my heart comes up empty. 

Don’t be afraid to make a Bible reading resolution this year. But be prepared for it to play out a little messy and disjointed. If we treat our Bible reading resolutions as all-or-nothing, we will always tend toward the “nothing.” So grab your Bible. Balance it awkwardly on the couch beside you as you feed the baby. Invite the little ones to sit beside you and read it out loud. Tape a passage to your mirror. Read a few verses before you turn out the light, even if you think your brain won’t absorb it. God is faithful to use what we put in. 


What’s your Bible reading resolution this year? Leave it in the comments and let’s encourage each other to press on!


"Sara Wallace does a wonderful job of taking the practicals of motherhood and relating them to the gospel. I highly recommend this for moms who don't have a lot of time to sit down and do a big Bible study." - Jennifer
Get your copy of "The Gospel-Centered Mom" on Amazon

Also available on Etsy!