Archive for the Category »Motherhood «

The Prison of Comparison

Today I was asked “What is the devastating effect of comparison in a woman’s life?”  Here is my answer:

“I know I am not alone in this nagging sense of failing to measure up, a feeling of not being good enough as a woman. Every woman I’ve ever met feels it – something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does. An underlying, gut feeling of failing at who she is. I am not enough, and, I am too much at the same time. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough, not gracious enough, not disciplined enough. But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong, too opinionated, too messy. The result is Shame, the universal companion of women. ” John and Stasi Eldridge Captivating
I read these words in 2005 and thought how is it possible for someone to write the exact things I think! This is spot on in my opinion. I am too much and not enough at the same time! And the kicker is that when living in the prison of comparison I assume and declare that every other woman in my life is a PERFECT balance of all those things that seem out of reach for me.  I am left discouraged and with a deep need to make something of myself.  Soon a pursuit of self promotion and improvement follows.  This pursuit left unchecked takes my time, my energy and my emotions.   Time, energy and emotions that could be used to bless His kingdom instead of building my own.
To me the devastating effect of the prison of comparison is that it steals my joy and sidelines me in the work of the Lord.

The Power of Accountability & Friendship!

In the last 12 years there has been one constant tool the Lord has used in my life to bring growth in my spiritual walk…friendship and accountability!

Twelve years ago I started meeting with a small group of ladies for accountability, not Bible study, but accountability and prayer.  Each week we openly shared with each other how we were doing in our walks with the Lord.

Each week we answered the following questions using the acronym SOAP:

Scripture (How have I done with reading God’s Word in the last week, what am I learning?)

Outreach (How am I doing loving on others and reaching out to them?)

Accountability (What area of my life do I need to be asked about, where am I struggling, or where do I need a gentle push to get something I know needs to be done…done?)

Prayer (What do I need prayer for?)

It would be impossible for me to describe how much this faithful meeting impacted my life and spiritual walk.  Having to share with others how I am doing every seven days really helped me develop some life habits I had been longing to develop.   I work well with accountability!  I don’t mean the in-your-face discouraging accountability but the cheerleader you-can-do-it kind.  I don’t need someone to beat me up, I need someone to say “Mandy, you can do this and you need to.  I am going to ask you about it again next week.  Oh, and I love you.”

Another acronym that I have used are the M’s: Master, Marriage, Mothering and Ministry.

Master (How am I in my walk with the Lord, my master?  How are my daily times with Him?)

Marriage (This is a question focused on me as a wife.  What and how am I growing as a wife?  This is NOT a time for me to gripe about my husband, there never is a time for that!  What areas of wifeliness do I want to work on?)

Mothering (How is my relationship with my kids?  Are there things I need encouragement to do in relating to them and taking care of their needs?)

Ministry (How am I reaching out to others?  Where am I using my god given gifts to bring him glory?)

Let me state this clearly: For me kind accountability from friends who I know love and support me has been life changing!

A little over a year ago I heard about Hello Mornings, an online accountability challenge for women.  Knowing the value of accountability I wanted to know more.  Hello Mornings is a gathering place for women who long to be consistent in their seeking of the Lord, planning their days purposefully and exercising.  The challenge runs for 15 weeks.  Through different social media avenues or email a group of ladies work to encourage and hold each other accountable to spend time with the Lord daily, to plan out their days and to exercise.

I am on my second session of Hello Mornings, and it has been encouraging and helpful in setting patterns in my life.  The two groups I have been a part of have functioned using a private Facebook group.  On the group page ladies check in and give an account of how they are doing, some do so daily, others weekly.  There is honesty in those posts and encouragement in the comments, it is great!

Accountability can come in many forms.  If you have not given this a try, I would ask “why not?”…it is well worth it!

Time Away

Last night I arrived home after being gone from the family for 7 days!  Crazy I know!

I wrote a guest blog post on Overflow that explains why I was gone and what I was up to.  If you have not seen it, check it out here 🙂  I am not going to repeat myself on this blog.  Instead I want to share with you the thing I love most about having time away…I get to think!

As a mom I think about a lot of things, all day long.  Did the kids do their homework?  Is there a load of laundry in the dryer?  How long can we go before I have to go to the grocery store?  When can I make time to call the friend from church that I know needs to be encouraged?  How can I encourage Brian today?  Did he take a lunch?  What does he eat every day for lunch?  Am I a bad wife because I rarely fix him a lunch?  Can I be involved in a new ministry at church?  Will it encourage me or deplete me?

It leaves very little room for deep thinking.

That is why I love time away!  After a few days the worries of normal life slip into the distance and I can think clearly.  I can hear the Lord in a different way.  I see the things in life that I dream about and desire that in normal life I am doing nothing about.  Why is that?  Why is it every time I have time away the same thought comes to mind and I say this I will do.  Then when I get back to normal life I shy away from it and think it just won’t work right now.  For me this one thing  has been circling in my mind, my dreams, my dare to hopes for years.  I need to act on it!

It is not only dreams that I spend time thinking on while away, it is also the functions of our family.  Why do we do it like that?  Is that really the best way?  Why don’t we change it up?  How are my priorities reflected in my time spending?  Do they line up?

I always return refreshed and ready to make a few changes and pursue a few dreams that I had let gather dust in a back corner of my mind.

I once opened a Dove Chocolate and found this message “Live your Dreams”.  I put it on the fridge, because that is what I want to do.  Having time to think helps me purposefully pursue my dreams.

It is a gift to have a mind at rest, then able to contemplate the thoughts which rarely gets to float to the surface, those thoughts which desires to be set sailing.

Loving the iPad!

My birthday was at the beginning of the month and my husband and kids surprised me with an iPad2! I should have known something was up when my kids kept begging me to open my gift from them 🙂 I love figuring out how to use this technology in my life, for both fun and for productivity! I keep researching best ways to use it and my kids keep stealing it away to take pics, videos, play games and make music in GarageBand.

Our church is currently in a series of sermons that have memory verses included, one for each week. As a family we have been working to memorize these verses. I decided to video the kids saying them and have fun on iMovie putting together the different clips.

The other day, I found Isabelle watching the video clip of her and her siblings saying their verses. I then saw her begin to tape herself re-saying them and including the “good job” comment I added at the end. This got my mind to thinking!!

Isabelle currently is not able to count higher than 13, she always messes up when we get to 14. I have been thinking we would work on this during the summer as well as other things.

The two thoughts came together for me!

I decided to video myself counting objects up to 20. I thought maybe she will watch it over and over and actually count with it! When I made the first video I did not even get it finished before she and Owen showed up wanting to watch it over and over. The second video I spontaneously captured on our driveway after we wrote out numbers 1-20 with sidewalk chalk.

I am looking forward to see what will come of this little experiment! I already found her watching one and counting along! I will let you know how it goes 🙂 Numbers 14-20 may just be in her vocabulary sometime soon!

My love for my iPad2 grows.


I wrote this back in February, never posted it but I still want to…

I love the way my children are so forgiving!

Isabelle had been super excited about pajama day at school, scheduled for February 2nd…ground hog day.  She had been talking about it for a week!  I was super excited because the first time she talked to me about it she said “Mom, Mrs Riedel told me….pajama day, slippers, pajama!!”  Isabelle has worked very hard to overcome a significant speech delay all of her life.  It was years before she talked and talking in sentences only happens every now and then.  To hear her say those four words together that are a proper use without significant words left out was music to my ears “Mom, Mrs. Riedel told me…”  I love it!!

Back to PJ day!  She was super excited!  Turns out February 2nd we had no school, snow!  So our next day of school I sent her without PJ’s, bad decision!  When I picked her up she was more than just a little sad, to say the least.  Everyone else had worn PJ’s.  There mom’s read the sent home paper that said what to do if there was snow.  As well those little kids were able to tell their  mom’s much more than “Mom, Mrs. Riedel told me…”  They were probably able to tell paragraphs about what to do in case of a snow day on February 2nd.   Needless to say I shed a few tears on the way home that day!  I had failed my little girl and her PJ day, and she was not able to communicate with me like other little kindergarteners.  So what is a Mom to do?

Once we arrived home I decided it was PJ day at our house.  Isabelle, Owen and even myself headed upstairs to change.  Such a simple thing, but both of my kids thought it was AWESOME.  We had lunch in our PJ’s with a blanket, an episode of Dora and a good book reading.  We had our PJ day right here at home, and my sweet Isabelle was thrilled.  I am thankful to have forgiving kids!  When Brian got home that night he looked at me in my PJ’s with a question in his eyes…”it’s PJ day!” was my response!

I am thankful that the Lord has made each of my children uniquely!  And I am thankful that he blesses me with their love and forgiveness!

Mandy’s Monday – Resolutions Review

In 2010 we set a goal as a family to each read 20 books. I learned a great deal from the books I read as well as the process of trying to reach this goal. I will reveal right up from that I did not accomplish 20 books 🙁 I love to read, I have said that many times, and I loved reaching for this goal but just fell short. I read more books than I would have with out the goal. It pushed me to continue reading and therefore it is a goal I am going to set once again in 2011!

Below is a listing of the books I read in 2010. I will not be listing them in order for one main reason, I lost my list two different times this year and had to recreate it both times. There is a good chance I forgot a few books and I know I did not remember them in order!

1. Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson
2. Stomping Out The Darkness by Neil T. Anderson
3. Julie and Julia by Julie Powell
4. When People are Big and God is Small by Edward T. Welch
5. Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
6. Emma by Jane Austin
7. Mansfield Park by Jane Austin
8. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austin
9. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin (why not throw it in there one more time!)
10. Jesus, 90 Days With the One and Only by Beth Moore
11. The Poor Will Be Glad by Peter Greer & Phil Smith
12. Helping Your Kids Deal with Anger, Fear, and Sadness by H. Norman Wright
13. Beyond Belief by Josh Hamilton & Tim Keown
14. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis (still finishing this one with the kids)

I really believe there are a few books I forgot about, that I read in the beginning months of 2010 and were lost from memory when I lost my list. It is amazing how long ago January 2010 feels from today!

This coming year as I set a 20 book goal once again I decided to add a layer to the resolution. I desire to read at least one book from each of the following categories: marriage, parenting, classics (Jane Austin does not count…I have now read all of hers), NY current best seller list, spiritual walk, and theology. I look forward to reading and blogging in response!

Now to reveal a few of my new resolutions:
1. I have fallen in love with my slow cooker! Therefore, this year I will use my slow cooker at least once a week, with the exception of the summer time. During the summer I use the grill all the time…and love it completely!! I found a blog with great slow cooker recipes, A Year of Slow Cooking. Be sure to check it out if you do not already know about it.
2. Run a second marathon with a new PR! I can not say enough about how much I loved running the San Antonio Rock N Roll Marathon in November. It was such an encouragement to me in many ways.
3. Attack the basement…AARRGGG!! For years I have wanted to do something drastic down there, just too many things are down there that need to be given away or thrown out…too much clutter.
4. Do a Bible Study with Addie and Emma. They are at a wonderful age and I want to take full advantage of the opportunity to disciple my daughters!
5. In 2010 I started a twitter journal of sorts for God’s love. I began in Genesis and as I read through the Bible I noted where I saw God’s love. I tweet each of these and am currently in I Samuel. In 2011 I plan to continue with this #God’sLove twitter journal.
6. In a restatement: I will work to read 20 books this year with at least one from each of the above stated categories.
and lastly:
7. I want to be faithful to post a blog for each of the Monday’s in 2011! (I missed one last week, but I am OK with that.) Hopefully, there will be 51 Mandy’s Mondays at the close of 2011. Writing is enjoyable for me, so this goal is for me to force myself to take the time to do so!

I am looking forward to a new year, the old has gone the new has come!

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