Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I'm guest posting today!

I'm so excited to be guest posting today over at Mommyhead Adventures.  Tara is a mom of two kids under the age of two, both with special needs.  She has an awesome blog.  I hope you'll check it out!

I'm sharing my own story of our experience with our youngest son.  We faced the possibility of him having Down's syndrome, and I was shocked by the opinions of some of the medical professionals we dealt with and how they treated us.  Stop by Tara's blog and check it out!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Shaping a Home - Even When You're Not Home

I recently read a post where the author described a mom's role as "shaping a home."  That is so true!  Moms are the ones who set the tone of the home, who adjust the emotional thermostat, and we're usually the ones who set the schedule as well.  For working moms, though, shaping a home can be a little harder...okay, let's face it, it's a lot harder.  It's hard a shape a home when you're away from home for hours every day.  It can be overwhelming and discouraging. 

There are a lot things you can do, though, to help keep your home and your family headed in the right direction.  Let me remind y'all: I am not a supermom.  I don't do all of these things, every day.  I'm trying to put all of them into practice on a daily basis, but it takes time, and it's hard work.  But these are all ideas that I'm working on and that are helping me shape my home and my family into what I dream of...
  1. Start your days off right.  I can't say enough about how much the Hello Mornings Challenge at Inspired to Action has changed my life!  Starting every day with time alone with God and time to think through my plan for the day makes things run smoother, even when I have a crazy busy day ahead of me.
  2. Know your mission.  While you're visiting Inspired to Action, download Kat's ebook on family mission statements.  I had never really thought about family mission statements, until I started reading her blog.  That's when I realized - if you don't know what your goals are, how are you going to plan to reach them?
  3. Have daily family mealtimes.  I realize that this may not be possible every day, but family mealtimes are so important, especially when you're a working mom.  Plan to sit down to dinner together as a family at least three nights a week - more often if possible.  Plan some special nights, too - my boys love Italian nights - when we eat spaghetti at a "fancy" table (set by them, including hand-written menus) and listen to The Godfather soundtrack on our iPod.  It doesn't have to be complicated to be special.
  4. Get into a routine.  This one is really tricky for me, because my schedule often changes from week to week.  I'm trying a new approach starting this week, though - I have four things that are on my daily must-do list.  Things that need to be done weekly will be divided up according to this week's schedule.  I have it all written out on two index cards - nothing complicated.  I'm hoping it will help keep us all more organized and make sure the house isn't a disaster zone routine jobs are getting done.
  5. Spend daily quiet time with your kids.  Take a few minutes out each day to read the Bible and pray with your kids.  For us, it's at bedtime.  My boys look forward to reading and cuddling before bed, and I look forward to hearing their prayer requests and having a few minutes of one-on-one time with them.  If you're looking for a good place to start, Keys for Kids devotionals are great.
What do you do to help shape your home?  I would love to hear your ideas, resources you love, and things that have worked for you!  Please leave a comment, tweet me @amandablogs, or email me at amandablogs79(at)yahoo(dot)com.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Simple Joys - 3/25

Little things I've loved this week...
  • My weekly lunch out with my three favorite guys
  • Zumba classes at work - tons of fun
  • Mornings with coffee, my Bible and my prayer journal
  • My friends
  • A little extra time to work on my blog - I still have so many ideas I want to work on, though!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Journal of a Newbie Working Mom

Mama’s Losin’ It

When I wrote this journal entry, I had been working for four months after years as a stay at home mom...

Sunday, March 9, 2008

I’ve got to learn to relax. Life marches on at the same hectic pace, and lately I seem to be under a state of constant stress.

Days before I was supposed to start my new assistant manager’s job, plans changed – I was promoted to co-manager of [a location closer to my home]. I love working closer to home, and it’s still part-time, but I now have to attend twice-a-month leadership meetings, and since the club has really gone downhill the past few months, there is enormous added pressure to turn the club around. It has a lot of perks – bonuses, another raise coming up soon – but wow, how the stress levels rose!

I found awesome new curriculum from GPH for Kids BLAST. Things still need lots of work and tweaking, but its going better. It’s still a major source of stress, especially with the Easter egg hunt coming up in less than two weeks, plus I help Robby type all three of his weekly messages. I really feel like I work two jobs, because when I’m not at Curves, I’m at the church.

Bobby is nearly done with his schoolwork for the year. We’ll probably finish in late April/early May. I’m so excited about taking the summer off! We’re going to do fun stuff this summer and not start school until September.

I’m trying to streamline my schedule as much as possible, but I’m still not taking time for myself like I should. I just feel so much pressure to be perfect! I thought that ended in college…but I was wrong. I feel like Robby gets the worst end of the deal. I try so hard to be a great mom, teacher, manager, kids ministry director – and at the end of the day, I’m exhausted. I think I do good as a mom, but lousy as a wife and homemaker. I just really want to figure out how to juggle it all and still keep my sanity. I “change hats” so to speak so many times in a day it makes my head spin. How on earth do other women do it all? I do good to get in my quiet time, I rarely have time to exercise (what an example!), and time for scrapbooking is non-existent. I’ve got to figure out how to do this better! I don’t want Robby, Bobby, and Spencer to look back and remember me as a stressed out, uptight bundle of nerves.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Family Funnies

How do you deal with objections to your ideas? (whether work or parenting related)

Make us laugh- one of your funniest memories to date.

Okay, I can't resist sharing a really funny story about my family...there are a lot of funny stories about my family, because they're all insane, but this is one of my favorites.

The first time my family came to visit after we moved to coastal Texas, we decided to show off the area.  We planned a trip to the beach and a fabulous seafood restaurant.  So we packed up and took a day trip to Galveston.  It was great, even though it was January.  The weather was perfect.  The day was beautiful.  We saw dolphins swimming on the ferry ride over.  We had a great time shopping along The Strand.  Then we got to Willie G's...that's when things got ugly.

The eight of us (my hubby, kiddos and me, my parents, and my dad's parents) were seated at table overlooking the water as the sun set.  The lights were low, the atmosphere was perfect...then our waiter brough the wine list.  My family doesn't drink.  Did my grandma just order a Sprite?  Of course not.  She started loudly explaining to the waiter that we don't drink, none of drink, we've never been drinkers, we don't need the wine list at all.  Sigh.

She complains about the price of the food the whole time they're looking at the menu, even though we'd told them months in advance that we would all go Dutch at the restaurant, and she and my grandpa split a plate.  At this point, I wanted to crawl under the table...I mean, that fish was in the ocean this morning and on her plate that night - how much better can it get?

Then came the kicker - as she looked around at the dim lighting, she loudly complained, "As much as we're paying for food here, can't they afford to turn some lights on?"  I had to step out.  My mom and I went to the ladies room and laughed until we were hurting.  What else could you do?

Let's just say that on all visits afterward, seafood has not been on the menu...fine dining and my grandparents do not make a good combination.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Joy and My Challenge

They are my greatest joys and my greatest challenges.  They changed my life forever when they entered it.

My youngest, who gave us a major health scare three months in our pregnancy, and another at birth.  My always smiling, always happy, always making people laugh, cuddle-loving son.  Active, athletic, outgoing, laid-back and optimistic, he is his daddy all over again.

My oldest, who is approaching his teen years much too quickly.  My sometimes easy-going son who can become the poster child for strong willed children everywhere in seconds.  My son who picks flowers and makes cards to make his momma smile.  Artistic, emotional, creative, compassionate, perfectionist - undeniably just like me.

I never knew until I had my sons that you really can love so much it hurts.  And I never knew how helpless I would sometimes feel as a mom.  Sometimes, I have no idea what to do with these precious gifts or how to parent them - they're polar opposities, and what works with one fails with the other.  I'm at a total loss.  Some days, all I can do is pray and beg for wisdom and guidance and grace.  That's why I'm taking the 21 Days of Prayer for our Sons challenge, beginning April 1.  Will you join me?  Buy the ebook Warrior Prayers - it will change your prayer life forever - and join the challenge to do something that can change our sons' lives forever.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Perfectly Imperfect: Letting Go Of Expectations

There are a lot of expectations placed on us as moms.  Some of them we put on ourselves, others are piled on by others.  Our families expect us to be the homemaker (even if we work outside the home), chef, chauffer, coach, cheerleader, tutor, teacher and the list goes on.  Our churches expect us to be Sunday school teachers, nursery volunteers, Bible study teachers, choir members, worship leaders, and more.  Our bosses expect us to be 100% at work while we try not to focus on the dozens of other responsibilites running through our minds while we're there.  It can get very overwhelming very fast.

One of the hardest lessons a Christian working mom has to learn is to let go of expectations.  I've had to learn, very slowly, that I can't do it all.  I can't bring homemade goodies to every women's ministries meeting - I can't even attend every meeting.  I won't have time for all the reading I'd like to do, and I won't have homemade dinners every night for my family.  Some nights, we're going to eat hot dogs or fish sticks or drive-thru meals.  I won't get as much sleep or rest as I'd really to.  But I have to go of some of those expectations if I'm ever going to manage to do all that I do.

Part of learning to be satisfied with our role as a working mom is letting go.  We have to let go of the life we thought we would have and grieve what can't be before we can embrace what God has for us here and now.  I spent years wishing I could just go back to being a stay at home mom.  It was only when I accepted the fact that I will always be a working mom and that this is just where God wants me right now, that I started to truly find joy and purpose in what I do. 

Our family's life doesn't look like everyone else's...and that's okay.  Sure, I get frustrated sometimes.  There are still days that I have a hard time leaving the house and days I wish I could go to homeschool co-op or summer reading club with my kids.  But God has called us to something different.  It's overwhelming sometimes, and at times I feel like a total failure, but to Him, we're all perfectly imperfect.  We might not live up to other people's expectations, but we're doing our best to live up to His - and that's all that really matters.

I hope you're enjoying my new blog feature, Working With Delight.  There are so few resources available to Christian working moms, so I decided to start putting together my own.  I would love to hear your ideas, struggles, victories, resources and more!  You can connect with me through comments, email me at amandablogs79(at)yahoo(dot)com, or follow me on Twitter @amandablogs.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I've been a big fan of the Sisterchicks books by Robin Jones Gunn since I read the very first one.  While I'm a huge mystery/suspense fan, these books are light, fun "chick lit" perfect for a break from heavier reading.  I was very excited recently to get the latest release, Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes, to review.

The latest book in the series shares the adventures of two long-time pen pals who finally get to meet face to face.  Summer has raised a family of six and juggled all the challenges that her busy life has thrown her way, but an abnormal result on a routine test throws her life into turmoil.  She decides to make the long dreamed about trip to the Netherlands to meet her friend Noelle.  As the two friends share a week of adventures, they learn to find God in the small, everyday moments and to trust Him with the big and small challenges. 

Robin makes each location she writes about in the Sisterchicks book come alive, and this one is no exception!  Although I had never really thought about traveling to the Netherlands before, I would now love to go.  From stories of Corrie ten Boom's home to the tulip fields to the famous artwork, she makes it sound like an amazing place to be.  I would deinintely recommend this book, especially to anyone who loves to travel - or those who only dream of it.

*In exchange for reviewing this book, I received a free copy from Waterbrook-Multnomah's Blogging for Books program.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Simple Joys

I've been having some problems with my Simple Joys linky...the links have not been showing up.  I'm hoping to have it fixed this week.  If you link up, please leave a comment as well, just in case I'm still working the bugs out!

This week, blogging has honestly brought me a lot of joy.  I started a new feature on Monday called Working With Delight.  It's all about the challenges and joys of being a Christian working mom.  The feedback I've gotten so far has really been incredible.  There is so little support and information for Christian working moms, and it's desperately needed.  I'm so excited to see where this goes!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Back to Work

Your best advice for a new, returning to work Mom

I was really excited to see this as a prompt for this week's Working Mom Wednesday!  Next month, I have a guest post on this very topic that will be featured at Our Mommyhood - I'm so excited!  So today I'm choosing the one tip that I think will help new working moms the most:  Go easy on yourself.

Being a working mom is hard.  Being a new working mom is even harder.  Your first few weeks on the job are going to be a big adjustment, so go easy on yourself.  If you pick up a drive-thru dinner instead of cooking, that's okay.  If you fall asleep on the couch after dinner, that's fine - you need your rest.  If the house isn't as clean as you'd like it to be, don't worry.  This is an adjustment period, and it will get better.

Every working mom I've ever talked to agrees that the first few weeks are the hardest - you're exhausted, stressed, and probably fighting guilt, too.  But you're doing what's right for you and your family, so hold your head high and remind yourself of that.  You'll find yourself soon moving into a new routine, and you'll find that it all gets easier.  One day, your kids are going to look back and say, "Wow, Mom worked so when we were younger - I'm proud of her."

Okay, now I hope you don't mind me putting in a shameless plug here for my new blog feature...beginning this week, each Monday I will post on Working with Delight.  This new feature is for Christian working moms.  There is so much support out there for SAHM's, as there should be, but too many Christian websites are geared exclusively to SAHM's, while Christian working moms get left out in the cold.  You can check out Monday's post here.  I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Working With Delight

We hear the message over and over, from many different sources:  Staying at home with your children is the right thing to do.  Godly women stay home.  The best moms are stay at home moms.  The tide has definitely shifted from the days when stay at home moms were looked down on.  I'm so glad that attitudes have changed when it comes to mothers who choose not to work outside the home.  Staying home with your children is an amazing, incredible experience - I know because I did it for almost four years.
But what about those of us who can't afford to stay home?  What about the moms who spent years building their career and don't want to walk away from it?  What about the moms who truly feel that God has called them to their work?  Where do Christian working moms turn for support?  The tide has turned in support of staying at home - but it's turned so much that Christian working moms, who have a foot in two worlds, often feel left out in the cold.  So many times, the message now seems to be that if you're not staying home, you're not a good enough mom.
I've searched for online resources and books for Christian working moms, and I've found that they are few and far between.  Many offer ways to reduce your spending and tell you that you can tighten your belt and stay home, or they offer ideas for starting your own home business.  For us, that's not option...unless we sell our 1,600 square foot house and live off ramen noodles and hot dogs.  I need real, practical advice on how to balance my life - family, home, work, church, and everything else I juggle in a day.

After months of wondering where all the resources are and not finding them, I decided to start building my own resources.  I've talked to many other moms who feel the same way.  I'm very excited to start my new weekly feature, Working with Delight.  Proverbs 31:13 describes a Godly woman, saying, "She looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight."  As Christian working moms, it's my prayer that we'll learn to find delight in the roles that God has led us to.  I'm looking forward to sharing resources, interviews, guest posts and more!

I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas!  You can connect with me through comments, email me at amandablogs79(at)yahoo(dot)com, or Tweet me @amandablogs.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Simple Joys Weekend

As you read this post this weekend, I am enjoying a weekend away at a women's retreat!  I love retreats.  I don't get to go very often, but it's such a great way to get away with friends and relax.  There's always lots of eating, talking and shopping, in addition to all the retreat sessions.  I hope you have a great weekend - thanks for linking up!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Working Mom Wednesday: How do you stay current?

Before I get into my post today - I'm very excited to be guest posting today at a great blog, Savvy Spaces!  I hope you'll stop by and check it out! 

One of the great things about my job as manager of a gym is that I can really identify with the women I work with.  We're all striving to reach the same goals - feel better, be healthier, and for a lot of us, lose some weight.  I'm constantly on the lookout for new ideas.

I love to read, so of course, I read a lot about fitness and health.  I'm always on the lookout for healthy fast food options, lower calorie versions of my favorite coffee, great snacks that you can stash in your purse, or fun new ways to squeeze in some extra workouts.  I like to try new things out so I can tell our gym members if they work.  Nothing speaks as loud as experience!  I also listen tips from others.  I've found some awesome ideas just by talking to members and hearing what has worked for them.

I have never been to the national convention that our fitness chain hosts every year, but this year may be different.  My boss is going to try to take all of us.  It should be a lot of fun...especially if we end up going to the one in Vega!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hiding His Word

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One of the areas I've never been particularly strong in is Scripture memory.  I learned some basics - John 3:16, the 23rd Psalm - but that's about as far as it got.  The past few months, that's been changing, though.

It all started with a post at A Holy Experience.  More recently, I found Do Not Depart and the Hiding His Word challenge.  So I'm signing up!  I'm working on memorizing Ephesians by the end of the year.  I've already finished chapter one, and I'm working on chapter two.  I have a commitment book where I track what I'm learning, and this week I added index cards to carry in my day planner do I can study at work, too.  I just need to get myself a webcam so I can link up clogs.

I can already see how Scripture memory is changing me.  Its pushing God's word deeper into my heart.  Its on my mind more.  I reflect on it more.  I know its going to keep changing me, and I'm so excited about continuing with it!

Monday, March 7, 2011

A New Direction

I'm very excited about an upcoming blogging Monday posting will be getting a makeover.  I'm ending my "Survival for Working Moms" series.  Starting next week, I'll launch "Working with Delight," a blog series written for Christian working moms.  I have searched the internet for resources for Christian moms who also work outside the home, and they are really pretty limited.  I know from experience that it's a tough role to fill!  I would love to hear feedback and ideas for things you'd like to see featured.  You can leave a comment or email me at amandablogs79(at)yahoo(dot)com.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Simple Joys Weekend

I got a rare treat this week - a massage!  My sweet hubby got me a gift certificate for Valentine's Day, so I got my massage on Wednesday.  There's nothing like getting to relax and just be pampered for a half hour!  Afterwards, I went out to eat and went shopping with my husband and kids - it was awesome!

Other little things I've enjoyed this week:
  • Watching our new favorite TV show, The Chicago Code, with my husband
  • Hearing my youngest pray for his sick friends (beginning his prayer, "Dear Ward," - he has trouble with his L's)
  • Reading what my oldest wrote about how he is learning lessons about lying, something he's been struggling with lately - I'm beginning to see the heart change I've been praying for
  • Our family "Italian night" - we had spaghetti at our "fancy" table (set by my boys) while listening to "The Godfather" soundtrack

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Faith Lived Out

I came across the most amazing article a while back on a blog that quickly became one of my favorites, A Holy Experience.  Ann shares the story of finding Scripture memory books that belonged to her grandmother - dog-eared, marked up books, full of Scriptures with dates and notes on when she had learned them.  She shared the wonder she felt when she realized the spiritual impact of those books.  That post made me start thinking about the legacy of faith I'll leave behind one day.

One of my goals for this year - for every year, really - is to be closer to God, to spend more time with Him.  When I asked for His help a few weeks ago, He poured it out, bringing me some amazing resources to inspire me and challenge me, starting with Ann's blog.  I started quickly finding blogs, books, and articles that covered exactly the areas I needed help in.  In short order, I created my own committment book (I'm memorizing Ephesians this year) and signed up for the Hello Mornings Challenge at Inspired to Action.  I finally finished my prayer journal...the one I'd planned to finish a couple of years ago...and actually started using it daily. 

It's been challenging, but growth never comes without a challenge, and God is definitely growing me.  I'm continually finding new ideas and new resources.  Recently I bought the ebook Warrior Prayers - from the first time I opened it, I knew it would become a much-used resource as I pray for my boys.  I had it bound and covered at Office Depot, and now it holds a spot in my Bible study notebook as something to use daily.

I know it's worth it the time and effort.  I want my life to make a difference.  I want to make an impact during my time on earth.  I want to leave a legacy for my kids.  When my life is over, I want to leave my children a worn, marked up Bible; dog-eared books of Scriptures memorized; and a marked up prayer journal that is worn from constant.  I want to leave my children a legacy of faith lived out.   That is my heart's cry.
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