Monday, March 23, 2015

Paper Airplanes

I had taken the kids to Starbucks to have breakfast outside on the patio. They asked a lot of questions and I answered them, mostly while skimming through apps on my phone.

After that we headed to the park. They played hard, as they always do, and I kept the baby happy in the grass. We left for home once lunch time came around. I turned the music up in the car to discourage more question-asking.

I served lunch and let them play with toys in the living room while waiting for naptime to come. Actually, if I'm honest, I was kind of begging for naptime in my head. For no particular reason, other than I've formed the habit of eagerly waiting for naptime, and bedtime...basically all the times my children are quiet and away from me.

Five minutes before it was time to lie them down, Leland, jumping up and down and accompanied by his little brother, brings me a white piece of paper and excitedly asks me to make them paper airplanes.

"No, honey. I don't know how to make one that will fly, and besides, it's naptime."

His little face dropped a little and a disappointed moan made me feel a little guilty. I brushed it off and got up from the computer, where I was browsing Facebook, killing the time before naptime.

I don't know where it came from or what caused it, but I suddenly stopped and thought about everything, the whole day, their whole lives in one sad flash... Mom on the phone, Mom on the computer, Mom saying no again and again and again.

Maybe later...
Just be quiet...
Not right now...

I realized in one very quick but powerful moment that I rarely say yes, and I've been wasting these precious years with my children waiting around for the next time they're asleep. 

I felt like something was pressing down on my chest. The realization was just so very heavy.

The boys were walking down the hallway to their bedroom with their little heads hanging low when I told them to come back. I typed in "How to Make A Paper Airplane" on YouTube and made two of the most perfect paper flying machines ever constructed.

They were so happy!

We spent the better part of an hour playing with those little paper planes. Kids are so simple, so easy to please. They don't need iPads and Netflix on a constant reel; they don't want more things or more toys to keep them occupied. Kids want you to give them YOU. 

Kids grow up, fast, so I hear. They become adults with jobs and to do lists and responsibilities and a past. That past is written by a pen that's in your hand. What are you writing?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Problem With Eva Mendes' Sweatpants Comment: A Husband Speaks Up

Eva Mendes recently made a comment that's gone viral, and has moms everywhere upset, and maybe some feeling a little demoralized. While yesterday, she came back with an apology statement (read: brushing it off as "just a bad joke"), I find it hard to believe because of how shamelessly her initial comment was said.

Whether her comment was just a joke or kind of mean, it really doesn't matter to me. I don't keep up with celebrities by any means. I usually only hear about things that "go viral" in passing via articles on Facebook, and I normally only read the titles. With Eva's comment though, I looked into it because someone that is idolized, put on a pedestal, and watched by many women in the world said something dispiriting to real life moms.

Let me say, I am not here to harp on Eva Mendes, to talk badly about her, or shame her without her being here to defend herself. What I am here to do is shine a little light on grace from this small stage this blog has brought me, because I want to do good from here. I want to encourage mothers, not discourage them with my words. And right now, I feel like there's a dusting of discouragement over real life moms.

So, I may be wrong, but from what I gathered while looking into this, Eve Mendes and Ryan Gosling have been dating off and on since late 2011. They have a newborn baby together and are not married. I mentioned her comment to my husband this morning and asked for his thoughts.

"The problem with her comment is, whether it was a joke or not, they aren't married, they're still dating, she's been a mother all of what- a few months?- and her status and her boyfriend's status means that she has a ton of pressure on her to be perfect. I think this is more about who she's dating and the pressure there than it is about everyday moms, but if she can't be comfortable around the father of her child, then there's a problem. That isn't real life."

He's right. Real life is messy and raw and hard. It doesn't consist of personal trainers and chefs, nannies and superstar boyfriends. For us, it's commitment to love no matter what, it's putting your kids before yourself, it's getting dressed for the day based on how much you're going to be crawling around on the floor with your babies, and being comfortable in the refuge of your husband's promise to love you.

As Brian said, "It's one thing to completely let yourself go and not put in any effort. It's another thing to be a beautiful person who I adore, and be comfy in sweatpants because cleaning and playing is what your day is made of. Personally, I love when you wear sweatpants. You're cute in everything, But we've loved each other for a decade, we've created four human beings together. We aren't still dating and we don't have anything to prove. The two situations aren't comparable."

If you've been around this blog for a bit, you know that I have talked a lot about putting in effort to your physical health and appearance for your husband's sake, but sweatpants are not the problem here. I've said before that most of my days at home with the kids are spent with hair fixed and a little makeup, a cute tee and sweatpants. The "number one cause of divorce" isn't your cozy pants. I'd say bitterness, unhealed heartbreak, and selfishness are the top contenders for that title.

A husband's opinion? "Take care of yourself, feel beautiful, love your husband, be a happy wife, and he won't even notice the sweatpants."

Thursday, March 19, 2015

My Messy Marriage Book List

Messy marriage? Clean it up!

You can't control your husband or force his heart into a better place in your marriage, but you have all the control in the world over yourself. The Word of the living God is the ultimate source for our hearts, but I believe God also speaks to us through fellow believers, and some of those believers have written excellent books! So pick one and let the work begin ;)

Here are my favorite marriage books that I've read in no particular order. These are the books that really struck me and helped me understand my husband better and inspired me to commit to working on my marriage. They're linked to Amazon for easy ordering.

For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn
The Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective by Martha Peace
The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller
The Power of A Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian
Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti by Bill and Pam Farrel

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Waiting Room

Our family has a major change on the horizon. We are seeing something we've always talked about coming into fruition, but the process is slow, and patiently waiting for something to happen isn't one of my strengths.

Things were going along smoothly, and then one day, we were following God's leading and He led us into the waiting room, said He would be back, and left us there.

Oh please no. The dreaded waiting room...


I would surely rather shoot my own foot off than be in the waiting room.

I've been here before. It's the waiting that always gets me. I am faithful, I am prayerful, I am walking in step with the Lord, then He brings me into this room, the waiting sets in, and I panic. Once the door to the waiting room closes and there's stillness, my faith loses the battle with my flesh and I start desperately trying to make something happen. I need something to happen right now.

The waiting makes me cringe.

I like to be in control. I like to be able to see what's happening, what's next. I've discovered this week, between panic outbursts in the waiting room, something crucial about myself. Something debilitating to my walk with God...

I want to be in control more than I want God's will. And that's what this all boils down to. A heart issue. Surprise, surprise. 

When I take an honest look at myself, I can see that I would rather have control and take action right now than be waiting for what God has in store, unsure of His timing.

But faith is hoping and believing in things not yet seen. It's in the waiting room that faith forms. The waiting room is like an incubator for faith.

I want to be faithful. I want my kids to look back at my life and see a calm, patient, faith-filled woman of God, not a control freak who only had faith until stillness was required. I want to grow, to be better, to be stronger, to be exemplary. But without the waiting room, I won't grow into any of these things. I'll continue to be mediocre, impatient, self-centered, and a slave to my need for control.

And so I'll stop clawing at the walls of this room that I hate. I'll stop complaining and kicking and screaming. I'll stop whining for God to hurry up and come back with what He promised us. I'll wait, because He is who He says He is. His ways are not my ways, and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. I'm tired of being in control, it's gotten me nowhere good. I am humbled, quiet, and willing. Grow my faith, Lord... I'm yours.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

From Failing to Flourishing: How Praying for My Husband Changed His Work Life

I've been thinking a lot recently about prayer, and about the power of a praying wife. Prayer is about faith, and faith is something God has been inking on my heart lately. It's like when God is showing you just how incredible something mundane is- something cliche that you've always known about (like faith) and He just makes it new and shows it to you in a whole new light. I love when He does that!

I get my encouragement from hearing the stories of other women and sharing experiences, so I wanted to share another recent experience of mine with the power of prayer.

My husband works for a very large company where his job performance is monitored and judged by "the numbers system". The company expects only the best from its employees, and they don't make it easy for their technicians to meet their numbers. Without meeting these numbers, you will be fine and your job is safe, but you won't be able to move up in the company or make any transfers or get any perks of the job that they offer to the techs who do well.

Brian has had sort of a cloud over him at work for the last two years. He's been cursed with the most complicated and difficult jobs every single day, and they affect his numbers in ways out of his control. He's been unable to meet his numbers or his manager's goals for him and it had him feeling very defeated and worthless at his job. As any wife knows, if a husband feels useless and defeated, he is not a happy man by any means, and his whole life is affected by these feelings.

I'm embarrassed to say that it took me two years to get my head out of the ground and realize I could do something (not just a small something, but something powerful) to help my husband. A little over a month ago, God laid it heavy on my heart to start praying over Brian and his job. I decided to make a list of the issues Brian was having at work, including the cloud that seemed to be hovering and keeping him from meeting his numbers no matter how hard he worked, and pray over them specifically.

I have four kids, and Emmett is only a few months old, so I knew I wouldn't find spare time lying around... I had to determine to make time to pray. I chose the time between 2:30 and 3:30, when the older kids nap and Emmett needs to be put to sleep. I started wrapping the baby in my arms and pacing the living room while going down the list of Brian's work-related issues, covering each one and Brian himself in Spirit-filled prayer and Scripture.

Among other things, some of my prayers were...

1. That Brian would not meet, but exceed the expectations put on him at work. That his numbers would go beyond the bare minimum.

2. That the work of his hands would be blessed (like Joseph's in Egypt), and that he would find favor from those above him in the workplace.

3. That he would feel useful and valued at work, and hear praise from his manager.

Things don't always happen this way, but in this instance, results came immediately. Brian told me about what a good afternoon he had at work when he got home the first night I prayed. After a week of daily time spent in prayer, his numbers were higher. Finally the end of February came around, and his numbers were so high, they exceeded the expectations of his managers. He got noticed by upper-level managers because of the positive reports coming in about him. After the last day of the month, his direct manager called him to praise him for how well he did and what an amazing, drastic change he'd made in his numbers. He went from the lowest performance bracket to the highest in less than 30 days. 

My husband is a very hard worker, dedicated, and loves his job, but the demands there were high, and I believe the enemy was using his work to bring him down and make him feel defeated. It was leaking into every area of his life. I listened to the leading of the Spirit and submitted myself to prayer for my husband. And through my submission, God was able to break chains and do an awesome thing. My husband is like a new man.

We wives have so much power. I thank God for that because I tend to be more spiritually aware of things, and can cover my husband in prayer when he doesn't even realize he needs it. Let's stomp on any footholds the enemy may have in any area of our husband's lives and use our power for good. Let's start praying over them and being their helpers as they go out and conquer the world for their families.

Their calling is to look ahead, work, and be warriors at the front of the battlefield, protecting and providing for their families. Our calling is to be the heart- dedicated to standing behind them with prayer spilling from our lips. And what a beautiful calling it is.

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.

Matthew 21:22

Friday, March 6, 2015

My Prayer Saved My Husband's Life

photo from my instagram feed

It was about three o'clock in the morning when I abruptly woke up. The nightmare was so violent, so real.

I saw the rain.
I saw my husband driving to work.
I saw the huge white semi-truck skid sideways across all four lanes.
I saw my husband try to swerve.
I saw the windshield bursting, metal crunching, his body jerking.
I saw the violent end to his life in slow motion.
Then it went black, and I was awake.

I'm no stranger to nightmares. Since I was a kid I've experienced them in vivid ways. The Lord taught me how to pray against fear by allowing night terrors to be a part of my life. This one was different. I was not afraid the way I normally am after a nightmare. I was calm, and I felt a heavy layer of peace over me. I felt like God was right there, waiting for me to talk to Him about what I'd just seen.

As I prayed I felt an urgency, not fear-based, just a calm urgency to tell Brian he should go into work late. I nudged him awake right then and told him that I had just been woken up with a very strong feeling that he needs to be home in the morning. He seemed a little confused but agreed. In that moment, peace flooded my mind and I was asleep again right away.

That morning, we woke up and talked over breakfast while we listened to the rain out the window. At that point I told Brian about the nightmare and my time with God earlier that morning. He listened and understood, and left for work later than usual. About thirty minutes after he left, Brian called me with a shaky voice.

"There's an accident on the freeway.... the semi involved is exactly like the one you described, and it's positioned along the freeway exactly like you described, in the very spot you said it would happen. I for sure would've been in it had I left on time...thank you for being a praying wife."

Sometimes I wonder what would've happened if I hadn't been a praying wife. What if I believed that everything that's going to happen is going to happen, and there's nothing we tiny humans can do about it? What if I didn't believe in the power of prayer? What if I didn't think prayer could change things?

Prayer grows our faith, and God uses it. 

As Christian wives, prayer is vital. It can literally be the difference between life and death, like my story shows, and it can also metaphorically be the difference between life and death in your marriage, your motherhood, and other relationships. It's so easy to get comfortable and forget just how much our prayer life matters. I'm sharing this story today because I feel like God wants to jar some of you awake in your prayer lives. If it's you, wake up and hit the floor in prayer right where you are- it matters.

"Our prayer and God’s mercy are like two buckets in a well; while one ascends, the other descends." 

Arthur Hopkins

Monday, March 2, 2015

5 Simple Ways to Doll Up For Your Man

Being a woman I love to dress up and I feel pretty with some makeup and non-stained, clean clothes. Once I had my two boys it became more of a chore to do my hair, take a shower, wear something other than PJ's, etc. I mean let’s get real, being home with my kiddos is awesome but they multiply a task that should take five minutes to taking more than twenty minutes.

It's easier to stay in some leggings or pajama pants and a tank top than to get on some jeans or a cute shirt each day. I made a goal for myself though that every day when Josh gets home I will do my best to have on a fresh shirt, fresh face (washed and with makeup) and maybe even do something cute with my hair other than a ponytail.

I want Josh to come home to a wife with a smile on her face, in attractive clothes that he likes and I feel good in and be greeted with a kiss. Now don’t think this happens EVERY day. I do have those stressed out days where he comes home and I want to (and will) go running out the door to grab a Starbucks or I don’t have dinner made because it was one of those hard parenting days. But, most days? My goal is to be dolled up by the time he comes home from work. So here are a few tips that help me and I hope you can be encouraged by them!

  1. Your Face
I love wearing makeup, I hardly go without it. I feel pretty in it and I love to play around with different colors and shades for a dramatic look, natural look, sultry look, etc. I love MAC and Bare Minerals but they can get quite pricey. A great affordable brand is E.L.F. It is available at Target, Walmart and pharmacies. It is easy to find and pick up. Play around with different colors and looks.

  1. Your Outfit
I am still learning to be comfortable with my body after birthing two big babies. Wear something that you feel comfortable and pretty in and that you know your husband loves. Maybe wear his favorite color or style on you.

  1. Your Attitude
I sometimes forget that when he gets home he needs a few minutes to relax and not have me pounce on him with questions and about my day. I remind myself that he has been gone all day from us and has been missing us as much as we missed him. Smile, he will be so comforted to see how happy you are.

  1. Your Lips
Give him a smooch and show him you love with the lips and a hug. They can communicate too. Most guys love physical touch and this will speak volumes to them.

  1. Your Space
I don’t always do this and sometimes there is only a spot to sit on the couch with toys and books everywhere else. Just make sure there is a spot where your man can sit down and relax after dinner or right before. Your man loves coming home to a you and the little ones and a place of rest.

So I might be wearing pajamas or some old pair of jeans all day and Josh will text me to say he is on his way home. That is what I use as my cue to get freshened up. So maybe ask your man to text you when he is coming home? Take 10, 20 or even 30 minutes to get dolled up and ready to greet him with love and keep the romance alive.

photo 2 (4).JPG       

Elisha Kemp is wife to a dreamer, mama of two boys, blogger, and Etsy shop owner. I talk a lot about motherhood, inspiration, Jesus and things echoed in my heart. You can find me at my blog or on Instagram posting photos and inspiration.

Friday, February 27, 2015

20 Text Messages to Send Your Husband

If you know me, you know I love the written word. But texting definitely has its perks, and being able to boost my husband's mood in the middle of the day is one of them.

I try to text my husband something loving or encouraging at least once every day. Imagine you're your husband. You've got the weight of your whole family on your shoulders- it's your job to provide meals and housing and pay the bills, it's your job to make sure your wife has what she needs to run the household- wouldn't that be stressful? Our lives as wives and moms are stressful too, and maybe you also work, but am I wrong to say that getting a loving little text in the middle of a hard day could make a big difference to your husband?

I encourage you to take the time to pause and think of your hubby more often, and put those thoughts into a kind text message in the middle of the day, every day. See what happens, what changes. Here are some text message ideas to help you kick it off and get you inspired.

Thank you for loving me so well. 

I'm thinking about the day we met...

You're all I can think about today. 

You are so incredibly handsome. 

Thank you for all you do to provide. 

I am really proud of you. (this one will put a BIG smile on your man's face)

I can't wait to see you tonight. 

When you get home, I'm going to kiss you, and I can't wait. 

I love doing life with you. 

Putting the kids to bed early and getting our room ready for a great night. See you soon. (bet you he'll get home early after you send this one, ha!)

I love that I get to spend my whole life with you. 

I wish you were here with me so I could be in your arms. 

You are such a good man. 

You're my protector, and I feel so safe with you. 

You're my favorite. 

You're sexy. 

You are the best dad. 

Thank you for everything you do for our family. 

I appreciate you so much. 

I don't know what I would do without you. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tips for Parents of the Naturally Self-Centered Child

Every human being is born selfish. It's our flesh.
For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy.

2 Timothy 3:2

As parents, part of our job is to train our children up "in the way they should go" (Proverbs 22:6), and a life lived selfishly is not that way, or God's will for our (His) children. Some children are more easily trained up and disciplined. My two-year-old will crumble into tears if I'm not careful in disciplining him. Just a look of disapproval and he's back in line with the rules. My four-year-old though, is a totally different kid. He is strong-willed and more difficult for me (this just means he will be more difficult for the enemy to break later on), and is much more naturally self-centered. He is wildly competitive and feels the need to be first all the time. He has a very hard time sharing, even though he's been taught to every day for three of his four years on earth. 

I'm definitely not an expert, but I've brought this issue to God in prayer so many times, and I feel like I have a few helpful tips and some encouragement for the parent who also has a more "me me me" type of kid, and just feels like giving up. Here are some things that have helped me parent my strong-willed, self-centered one. 

Remember that God chose you. Sometimes, in the middle of a meltdown or a very rough day, the only thing that keeps me going is to remind myself that God chose me, out of every mother in the entire world, He chose me to be Leland's mom. This means I am in His perfect purpose and that He will fight for me, and help me raise this little person. 

The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.
Exodus 14:14

That verse gives me the power to walk in confidence as a mom and choose joy in the battle with the flesh. 

Let them see their role is important. I've found that showing my son that his place in our family matters greatly has made a huge difference in his general attitude. Don't be afraid to give a young child responsibilities. Let them see that they play an important part in your family dynamic and that everyone needs to pitch in and help out. It's not all about them, and they learn that by acting out that truth, not just hearing it. For a list of chore ideas for your child's age, click here. 

Teach them to put others first, always. Since Leland is a boy, I want him to be a gentleman and I am always reminding him to hold doors open, let ladies go first, and to give up his chair when necessary. In addition to that, it has helped a lot to teach him to put others first all the time, whether they're male or female. Teaching him to go last is so important, but it's also important not to overdo it and cause him to feel like he's not important or that you favor your other children. There's a balance. For us, just nudging him toward the selfless choice in a disagreement between siblings and letting him make the decision to be selfish or not himself is enough. I explain that if he chooses to be selfish, his brother or sister may not want to play with him again later, and I let that sink in and he makes his own choices most of the time.  

I'll also remind him what the Bible tells us about selfishness and ask him what he thinks that means for this situation. I've seen it sink in recently after months of feeling like I was wasting my breath. Press on, mama and keep up the good fight. You'll get through to them one day!

Talk it out with them. The most effective way to get through to Leland is also the simplest- stop what I'm doing and just talk to him. Ask your child how they think it makes someone feel when they act selfishly. Be specific about what's happening to help them stay focused and understand what you're saying. 

Example: "How do you think it made your sister feel when you pushed her out of the way so you could get in the car first?" 

The goal here is to point out their automatic self-centered response to a circumstance, change their thinking, and giving them a second chance to act in a situation and receive some praise from you. 

Relate to their struggle. Nobody wants to learn from someone who acts above them. I've found that being honest and real with Leland, and confessing when I mess up and make selfish choices influences him more than anything. I'll say something like, "Wow I really messed up when I reacted that way. That was very selfish. Instead I should have _______. Will you forgive me?" Lead by example. 

"Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing."
Albert Schweitzer

If you're the parent of a child who has a hard time thinking of others first, I hope these simple tips can help clear your head and point you in the right direction. Remember, you are their chosen mom. God knows you can do this His way. Look to Him for the help you need. 

If you have any other suggestions to add, feel free to leave them in the comment section below!

Monday, September 15, 2014

How to Rest As A Busy Mom

As you read before in my summer exploring list and this post here my focus over the summer was to abide and rest. So honestly, what does that look like and how does it happen when you have little ones running circles around you each day?

First, in all honesty, it's hard. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love being a mom and I feel so incredibly grateful to stay at home with them each day. My goal this summer is to abide and if I look further I want it to become a part of my daily thoughts.  So, I am starting small.

(Picture from 2012)

1. Find time each day to spend 10 minutes reading your Bible, praying and writing in a journal. I write my prayers in my journal because it is easier for me to write to Him while the boys are playing right beside me.

2.  Make time each day to freshen up. Wash your face, put a little makeup on, put the yoga pants aside and put on some clothes that make you feel comfortable and pretty.

3.  After nap time each day I let the boys watch a quick show to wake up while munching on a snack. Once the show is done we read for a little while. This is time to slow down and ease in to our afternoon without rushing.

4. Talk to Him throughout the day for peace, comfort and rest. Ask Him to show you and then begin to notice what makes you feel rested.

5. Take 10 minutes and refresh an area in your home that has been irritating you or makes you feel stressed. I will usually do our family room, kitchen table or our kitchen (dishes and countertops).

6. Put some balance or whisper in the diffuser and curl up on the couch with a good book.

These are a few ways that I find rest as a busy mama and they have truly changed how I go about my day and I learn to slow down more. I am working to find that rest in Him and in our home because it can bring such a calm and resting atmosphere to our home when I am calm and then the boys play calmly and Josh can come home to a peaceful home. Take one day at a time mama, focus on abiding and find that rest that is waiting for you.

How do you find rest as a mom?

I'm Elisha, a wife to a dreamer and mama to two rambunctious & adorable boys and a writer from the heart. I have a passion to show moms how to live authentically in motherhood and everyday life. You can follow me on my 
blog ​ and daily posting on my Instagram .
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