Joyful Life

Listen, listen, He whispers secrets every day


This small framed verse stands on my small hall table to remind me of what really matters, daily taking time to listen, to understand His guiding love.

Today, thunder boomed while mist rolled in amidst winds and rain pounding our grass. Joy and I wrapped ourselves in warm wool throw blankets, carried steaming cups of tea, and sat under our front porch together, lost in the grandeur of the summer storm--together enjoying the company of shared moments, stolen from the duties of our day.

All the dishes in the sink did not get washed, there were still piles to be dealt with--but later. His voice reminded me that next week, she will be in Oxford and I will have more time to wash dishes, straighten piles. But I will not be able to look into her large brown eyes to see the wonder and excitement deep within, waiting to spill out her deepest thoughts,  as she adventures to her future days with an unknown ending ahead of her.

Today, I have the peace that comes from knowing the moments were invested in each other, not spilled on the busyness of life to be lost forever.

How often do we allow the noise of the world to overwhelm His voice. Do we take time to listen? It is only as we quiet our hearts amidst the moments of our days that we will hear His whisper, walk in His ways. But the quiet of His leading always takes us to the eternal treasures, the hearts that are waiting for us to listen, the memories that are waiting to be lived now to impress what is precious on our minds.

What is His voice whispering to you today in the midst of the noise of your life? Only you can respond to what secrets He has prepared uniquely for you to celebrate and to enjoy.



Creating Your Own Cozy Corner

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA "Because my life is rarely neat and together, I attempt to make my devotional spot a regular place where I can spend my quiet, holy moments resting in beauty and having a sense of civility. I needed to have a place that was ready--and that would give peace to my soul--even if for a few moments. This gives a sense of order to the rest of my life, even when the other edges of my life are seemingly out of control. Life in our home with four kids, a dog, and people in and out rarely provides composure.

Yet when my inner life is composed, my outer life feels manageable." -The Mom Walk

Often times, the way we begin our day sets the tone for how the rest of it will look. It's crucial that we counter the loud, stressful alarm clock or toddler with some peace and quiet prior to jumping straight into the chaos of the day. Some mamas I know do this at night before they go to bed. Whatever your habits, intentionally decide to breathe peace into your soul before you go out into your day. I spend a lot of time straightening my house and attempting to keep a peaceful, orderly environment that soothes and blesses my family.  And so I have understood that I need to continually seek to bring peace and centeredness to my soul, which is constantly being tested and getting in disarray! I am a passionate, philosophical, artistic person.  I am very relational but love, hunger to have time to think, read, write, and drink lots and lots of tea and coffee and to do it all alone! It doesn't always happen, but when I fight to find a place for a few minutes of this kind of centering with my heart, mind, and to give the day to God, then a habit is built and a foundation is laid over days and days of practice.

Don't allow your desire for perfection to rob the joy out of this day. Each day is filled with it's own set of tasks and troubles, but try to find the beauty in this morning. Even if it's just a cozy corner, for a very few moments, it is important to sit down, create your own little place that's in your control in the midst of chaotic life. Cozy devotional corners can include:

-Candles -Hot cup of tea or mug of coffee -Comfy pillows -Flowers -Journal -Bible -Artwork  -Beautiful music ready to go at the push of a button

A basket full of devotionals or inspiring books that can be picked up for short bursts of inspiration.

When you take a moment to invest time and energy in your own sense of calm, you will find the rest of the day much easier to manage. Peace begins inside of our hearts, and only when we are filled with it can we pour it out into the various areas of our lives. As you prepare to do this week's mini bible study with the scripture and questions below, go find your comfortable, quiet, devotional spot (your cozy corner!).

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." -Isaiah 26:3

"When you enter a house, first say, 'Peace to this house." -Luke 10:5

"But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble." -Psalm 59:16

Ask yourself: -Which spot in your home can be the safe haven for your morning devotional? -How can you make time to have a moment to yourself? Does this mean waking up earlier? Setting aside a special quiet time during the afternoon? Enjoying a quiet evening on the porch at sunset? -How much more efficiently do you think you will be able to handle the rest of your day if you had your very own quiet time each morning?

Beach, Great Food, Friends, Retreat--Sarah & I would love to see you!

Moms retreat banner Rev1 cropped more 528

Calling all North Carolina Moms and those near by!

September 19-20

Start your school year off with inspiration, fun, sharing with friends and a retreat. For all of you who have attended our Raleigh Mom Conferences in the past, this is for you., as we will not be able to have the spring Mom Heart Retreat there this year.  I miss being there the past couple of years but now, I have been invited to speak in Wrightsville Beach, nearWilmington, North Carolina--the darling, artistic town, at a retreat just for mamas--to fill them up, spoil them and give them a sense of grace, peace and wisdom as they enter another school year.

Sarah will be speaking about her newest book, Caught up in a Story, about the importance of winning your children's hearts through great literature, intentional mentoring and strong foundations. She will also be speaking about her favorite books, lists of the best books we used in our home, and the ways we inspired boy and girl alike. Our own practices of reading, discussion, and cultivating a high standard of education in our home will all be a part of our story for you. And of course we hope to have some of these books available for purchase--though we will be giving some away!


I hope to inspire you about the rhythms you set up in your home to cultivate learning as a way of life. On my heart is helping moms to learning to inspire your children to love education, to become critical thinkers and to be passionate about becoming leaders in their generation is all a part of the message on my heart. Discipling your children to have a strong faith in God in a challenging culture is essential.

Finally, I wanted to end our time together to encourage all of you precious moms how to stay fresh, to take care of your own soul, to rid yourself of performance guilt and comparison, and how to refresh your own heart, mind and soul so that you can stay resilient in your ideals while enjoying educating your children.

I hope to be at the retreat center early so that there will be time to visit with all of you in a more casual setting and to provide time for questions and answers with Sarah and me.

We will also be giving away some books during our talks!

Please pass the word around. Please share this with all of your friends and we shall make a grand weekend of it all.

Can't wait--I have wanted a mini-vacation at the beach for a long time!

But hurry, the deadline is coming soon and the retreat is almost full. For more information, and to register,

go HERE.

Hope to see many of my old friends there!

Created to be artists of Life

A snack dinner, recently celebrated in our home when I did not want to cook!

"Ideals and the desire for beauty are simply the echoes of God's design in our hearts. He was the one who designed the world to be a masterpiece of wonder and life. The yearning for peace, health, and comfort is natural to our souls and comes from the depths of our hearts where we can still feel and imagine what God created life to be before the fall."    The Mom Walk p. 58

In the beginning, God created.....

One aspect to being created in God's image is that even as the first thing he did was to create, so we are made to be creators.

God placed his first children, Adam and Eve, in a vast, splendid garden with variety of color, sound, texture, light, taste--all for the pleasure of His beloved Adam and Eve.

As women and as mothers, we long to follow this design and make masterpieces out of the everyday things in our lives. We sometimes forget that masterpieces are the work of a lifetime--we create, bring light, prepare food, build traditions--just as God did when he crafted the garden and will prepare a meal for us in the new world. He brought the light of stars, the sun, constellations, we illuminate our homes with the ambience of soft reflections of firelight, lamplight, candles.

When the real world comes crashing in on us, by rumors of war, killings, earthquakes, the fall of Godly leaders, we can quickly become overwhelmed and walk down  pathway of fear and despair.

And yet it is important for us to persevere and create beauty in our world. When the walls within our home bring safety, the music brings comfort, the food satisfies the body, the touch brings affection, the words bring hope, we are like the Holy Spirit--bringing the reality of God into the dark places of this world. 

When we give up, we are submitting to the darkness that surrounds us- and in giving in to fear gives darkness to our own soul.

I believe mothers are widely capable influences in this world for good. They have an incredible capacity to be strong, faithful, life-giving. Even lighting a candle will influence our surroundings and bring soothing comfort to our souls. The dancing flicker of light gives hope that we are making a difference in this dark world.

In reading Genesis 1, what words did God use at the end of days 1-5? He said, "It is good."

Creating beauty, light, as God did, is a "good" work of our own lives.

On day 6, God pronounced his work very good.  How did he summarize all of creation?

When a mom is overworked, she may think this work of beauty if frivolous. But I have found that creating beauty actually has an inspiring, peaceful influence on my own well-being. Creating brings an energy to our lives. It doesn't have to be difficult or comprehensive, but it is a glorious process of bringing the art of God into the moments of life.

What is one thing you can do today to make your home more beautiful? Stop to think about it and make 3 ways you will beautify or tame your home this week. How can you make it more peaceful? Just a tiny effort every day can bring a legacy of comfort to your children's perceptions of life, memories, sense of belonging to a place.

It can be as simple as picking a wildflowers and putting them in a vase. Let your children gather a bouquet for you. They will love picking flowers for Mommy.

How does making your home beautiful and peaceful glorify God? How can you glorify God as a mom today?

As you look into the eyes of each of your children, pray that the Lord will help you see the masterpiece he is creating in them. Give them a gift of God's life art through the acts of worship of your life and you will bring a sense of peace into your home.

I pray God's beauty will permeate your life today!

Our Children Need Heroes!


God spoke to us in a lightening storm last night.

You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from the remotest parts, And said to you, "You are my servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you, Do not fear for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." For I am the Lord you God who upholds your right hand, who says to you, Do not fear, I will help you." 

Isaiah 41: 9-10, 13

Mamas were imagined in the heart of God, because He knew that when world events would happen in the lives of his children, they would need someone to light a candle in the darkness, to sing their fears away, to assure them of God's presence. Filling my children with stories of heroes, those who were courageous in the midst of difficult times, was a way I wanted to fill the treasure chest of their hearts so that when challenging life fell upon them, they would have resources to draw from--stories told, verses memorized, life lived above the darkness, so that they would know how to face their own fears and trials.

The way we choose, by faith, to face these difficult days, has great worth in the future faith and faithfulness of the children who live in our home. A glory to God, is for us to choose to believe in His presence so that our children will seek His presence. As Joy and I were talking about hard times tonight, she read me a blog she has just written. It encouraged me so much to see her own heart amidst all of the challenges facing all of us, that I thought I would share it with you. Be sure to go to Joy's page and read it and leave her a comment. And be sure to practice mama bravery and heroism in your own home. Enjoy!

I Need a Hero

by joynessthebrave


True. Story.

“Aragorn is just not a realistic character.” Said my friend as we sat at lunch.

“Really?” I said, “What do you mean?”

“Well,” he said, holding his french fry a few inches away from his mouth in a contemplative manner, “He’s just too... Resolute... Too good. Nobody is that noble.”

hmphed and picked at my grilled cheese, he ate his french fry, and our conversation turned to complaints about homework and other serious

The conversation did not turn into much more that day, but the comment always stuck with me.

Not realistic. Too Resolute. Too Good. Nobody is that noble.

I have always loved Aragorn. Heavens, I think there are few girls in my generation that have not gone through a stage of Aragorn admiration, and, were we honest, few of us have made it out of that stage. For evidence, see the meme included in this post.

Tales like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Narnia, or to go back further, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, the Odyssey, David and Goliath, and countless others have gone deep into the psyche of countless generations. We love stories for their adventure and delight, but I think there is a deeper down reason for our love of these tales. We love them because a good story gets to the heart of the struggle of good and evil that every age has had to deal with. Though it wears different masks-- war, oppression, slavery, nuclear war, facism-- every age has had its darkness to fight. We tell stories to make sense of the world, and to give us an ideal for how to live in evil times.

That’s where the Aragorns of the world come in. Every good story has its hero. If stories help us make sense of our beautiful, broken and cruel world, Hero’s teach us to live in it. In our favorite heroes, we see people who face the same sorts of hardships and doubts that we do, yet somehow, miraculously come out the other side. We love heroes because they are brave, and because they make us believe that, perhaps, we could be brave too.

Not Realistic. Too Resolute. Too Good. Too Noble.

I believe our generation has lost some of its hope in heroes. We are wary of people who seem “too good,” and I do not think this wariness is totally unfounded. The last score of years have been full of media demagogues: politicians who promise and do not deliver, pastors who preach but do not practice, stars who shine but do not bring light. The rapid growth of social media has engendered a marketing based culture where everything and everyone is claiming to fill a need, and the emptiness of those promises has become quickly evident. As a generation, we have grown weary of people claiming to be heroes. As a result, many people have rejected the idea of heroism altogether, and have replaced it with the ideal of “being real” or “authentic.”

This rejection of heroism and embrace of “authenticity” is evident in the proliferation of anti-heroes in literature and film. Take for instance the popular example of the “real” antihero Katniss Everdeen, who is only willing to do the right thing once she is coerced and harrowed into it.

I am not wholeheartedly condemning all antiheroes, but I think it is worth noting their presence and influence in the 21st century imagination. There is something truly valuable in the pursuit of authenticity and humility, but what bothers me is the idea that true heroism is, as my friend put it, “not realistic.” But what do we mean by “not realistic?” We have forgotten to define our terms.

To assume that a character can only be “authentic” “real” or “humble” if they are antiheroic means that we have assumed that no one can truly be heroic. 

After all, there are no pure motives...

And that is the assumption that bothered me about my friends statement.

Is Aragorn’s bravery and heroism truly unrealistic?

I recently finished reading Lord of the Rings over the summer, and was profoundly encouraged by it. The story is peppered with heroes of all shapes and sizes, and that is perhaps what I love most about the series. Be they hobbit or high elf, many a character comes to the edge of peril and decides to press on, to conquer, and to be brave. Time after time characters are faced with certain death, many meeting it, but press on for the love of goodness and the understanding that their decisions are a part of a story much bigger than themselves.

Consider Aragorn.

In the story, Aragorn is 80 years old. He has spent many years as a ranger in hiding-- a job without appreciation and without forgiveness. By the time the book begins, he has fought many bitter battles and spent years in obscurity, but he knows that He-- and he alone-- is meant to be king. It is not that he is infallible, but that he has spent his life preparing and training for his part. When finally the day comes for Aragorn to take his place as King, it is in a battle almost sure to be lost, but he goes forward bravely, knowing that this was his time to be brave, whether it ended in death or life.

It was what he had prepared for all his life.

It was the summation of his character.

It was his part in the story.

Not realistic. Too Resolute. Too Good. Nobody is that noble.

I wonder if the reason we have lost our trust in heroes is because we have lost our sense of story. All good heroes know that there acts of bravery are not about them, but about the people, the values, and the goodness they believe in and want to preserve. Heroes seem supernatural, because in their actions they affirm that there is a true and even supernatural narrative that is worth protecting, and even worth laying their lives down for.

Heroism is not about glory, it is about story.

Perhaps more people would be real and authentic heroes if, rather than making themselves out to be great and noticed, they spent their lives, like Aragorn, in silent preparation of character, daily building spiritual muscle to fight, making decisions in quiet moments to walk towards the light and dispel the darkness, so that when their time came to lay down their lives for what is right, they would be ready.

As I write this, there is a breath stealing heat lightening show happening outside my window. It is like nothing I have ever seen. The clouds are piled miles high and the stars a guarding the clear air around them. Inside the towers of clouds there are great silent flashes of light flashing, as though Gandalf himself is fighting Saruman. I feel small.  

And I am.

I am grateful for these moments, because in their inaudible and yet articulate way they remind me of the Great Storyteller, and the Great Story that I am a part of. I want to be hero.

The story is not over yet, and more than ever we need heroes. A cursory glance at your newsfeed or will reveal that light and goodness are being challenged, and sometimes seemingly darkened, every day. But just like Aragorn, I want to know my place in the story, prepare my heart, stretch my spiritual muscle to be ready for my part in the story.

We need to believe in heroes.

We need to read stories about heroes.

We need to become heroes in ready wait for the true King and Hero.

"Suddenly Faramir stirred, and he opened his eyes, and he looked on Aragorn who bent over him; and a light of knowledge and love was kindled in his eyes, and he spoke softly. 'My lord, you called me. I come. What does the king command?'

'Walk no more in the shadows, but awake!' said Aragorn. 'You are weary. Rest a while, and take food, and be ready when I return.'

'I will, lord,' said Faramir. 'For who would lie idle when the king has returned.'" -Return of the King

Find Joy at:


Joy--getting ready to leave for Oxford next week! I will miss her, but she will be blessed, I know!

Anyone want to see Sarah Mae and me at Focus on the Family?Tuesday !

desperateHi, Friends, Sarah Mae and I will taping a show for Focus on the Family to discuss Desperate this coming Tuesday, August 26, at 9:30 a.m. and we would love to have you in our audience and will be available to say hi after the taping. If you would like to join us, you have to register, as they have limited seating. Here is the information:

Here's info from FOTF: If you would like to attend a taping, please note the following information:
Seating is reserved. Please call (719) 531-3400 and ask for extension 1907 to reserve a seat.
Children under the age of 10 are restricted from attending broadcast tapings. Additionally, there are occasions when the subject matter is not appropriate for anyone under the age of 18. If this is the case, the information will be available when you make your reservation to attend a taping.
Please call a day or two before your planned visit to learn of any schedule changes.
If you are not able to attend, please call the above number to let us know. We appreciate your thoughtfulness.

It would be so fun for us to see you and have a full house! Hope you can join us! Tell your friends! See you soon!

Identity Girls site launch! {Celebrity Guests & BIG Giveaways!}

promo{Today, my daughter-in-law, Rachael Lee Clarkson, is sharing some very exciting news about the launch of her new contributing blog for young women!}

Hollywood has been the place I call home for the past 5 years now. While I love my career as an actress and model, at the end of each night in Los Angeles "living the dream", I always felt something tugging at my heart. There was this desire for purpose in me...a desire for all of my work to actually mean something, for my life to mean something.

Living in LaLaLand, where I was constantly surrounded by unrealistic standards and photoshopped magazine models, I began to lose sight of my own value and worth. Who was I? What was my identity? Our surroundings, relationships, and experiences begin to form who we are as young women. Through the movies we watch, the books we read, and the company we keep, are we truly living out who God designed us to be?

I knew that I wasn't living out God's design, because I did not feel wonderfully made. I certainly did not feel like a valuable treasure. My heart and soul felt no strength and dignity.

God didn't call me to live in Hollywood for no reason, and I know He didn't bring me here for this hard work and struggle to amount to nothing. I used my own personal struggle as a fire to ignite the passion in me, to help other young women overcome their insecurities and step into who they were made to be.

Today is one of my favorite days ever. On this day, I am launching the Identity Girls blog...a contributing online community with the most incredible team of young women. The Identity Girls are Hollywood actresses, professional models, writers, chefs, singer/songwriters, health and wellness coaches, fashion stylists, and more who all have the desire to use their platform to inspire and encourage young women.

What makes Identity Girls unique is the fact that each young woman involved is not only successful and living out her God-given identity, but has the desire to be a role model for young women everywhere. This site will be a place where girls can come to be refreshed and do life with others who are sharing their stories, wisdom, and applicable ideas on how to become confident with the girl in the mirror. Our goal is to encourage young women to overcome insecurities and step into the life God has for them. I believe in being a well-rounded woman, which is why the team of writers is so diverse! We will have topics on recipes, fashion, decorating on a budget, health and wellness, resources, and more...all from a godly perspective. The Identity Girls believe in tackling the difficult issues, such as: anxiety, depression, body issues, deep rooted insecurities, how to have healthy boundaries, and more.

There are 20 AMAZING women on the Identity Girls team, but I am going to introduce you to 5 of the ladies on the writing team:

-Tanya Chisholm {Lead actress from Nickelodean's "Big Time Rush" and Disney's High School Musical 2.}

-Shannon Stewart Ratliff {Runner up on America's Next Top Model cycle 1, runner up in Miss Ohio USA, and a model for Sephora, Teen Vogue, Elle Girl, Allure, and many more.}

-Beverly Bautista {Professional dancer in Hollywood.}

-Rachel Zeskind {Health and Wellness Coach.}

-I am SO excited to introduce our very own Brandee Knowles who often shares her delicious recipes on I Take Joy! She will be writing our articles on food prep, cooking, and many tasty recipes so that young women feel encouraged and equipped to take on the kitchen!


Our writing team is so unique because so many different elements make up our identity! Learning how to be a well-rounded woman includes cooking, decor, fashion, beauty, health, wellness, art, and great godly wisdom. Visit the site to meet the rest of the Identity Girls! The team is so incredible, diverse, and will be able to reach so many young women!

During our launch week, we will have many celebrity guests, surprises, and BIG giveaways! You won't want to miss out on any of the excitement, so make sure you subscribe today to the Identity Girls blog. Since it is launch day, I have some exciting giveaways to share with you! All you have to do is go to the bottom of this page to find the giveaway, which will give you the instructions! Once you have subscribed to the blog, followed us on Twitter, and liked the Facebook page, you will immediately be entered in to win one of the 6 prizes below.

We are giving away 6 prizes, which means 6 ladies have the opportunity to win something fun! Enter below, and be sure to share Identity Girls with the ladies in your life.

Thank you for believing in Identity Girls, and for supporting young women everywhere as they begin the unique journey God has for them.










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Encouraging Our Children with Dayspring

By this time of the year most of our children have returned to routines and sharpened pencils, lunch boxes and math books.  As they adjust to the newness, we can be extra thoughtful to pour on the encouragement.  The little ones need to hear of our confidence in them, our grace toward them, and how much dear Jesus adores them.  

Our friends at Dayspring have created some beautiful Vinyl Scripture Art that we can utilize to encourage those brave little hearts.


What child wouldn't love to wake up and see this singing away at them?


I also thought these smaller Vinyl Art Pieces would encourage the hearts of mothers and fathers as we all push through the daily work and suffering in order to draw those in our home closer to Jesus.


As the older children go off to school or work on their lessons at home, sometimes the youngest children can be engaged by bringing in a fun new item.  This coloring book of Bible Stories teaches while it provides "work" for a younger one to do alongside their older siblings.


May the Lord bless you as you launch your little ones into a new year of learning.

Nurturing God-sized dreams in the hearts of your children Part 2


Gustav Corbett

Mamas are made to dream for God, as well. God has work for us to do!

Part 2

Excitement bubbled up in my own heart again yesterday, when I heard one of our pastors speak. His message was about not settling for life, but becoming an overcomer. There was this little familiar flurry of excitement stirring in my heart. It melded with some of what I have been thinking about lately.

 All of us were made by God to do a work in this world that would bring Him great glory and that would point to His light and beauty. We were created in His image, in His spiritual likeness, but with our own personality, skills, messages and drives. Each of us has the opportunity to live out a great story--one in which His power, His love, His light can touch everything we do. But only if we are dreamers--dreamers for His glory.

To live by faith, means to live as though the Holy Spirit is truly living through me--If the Holy Spirit looked at my marriage, my children, my friends, my skills, what would He be planning for my life? How would He be living it differently than I am living? What would He be planning according to His power and resources? How would He be bringing glory to His Father through the ways He would have me step out in faith, the ways I would be generous extending His love, the ways I expressed compassion and redemption to a lost world, as He would?

As I see the huge needs in our culture for Christianity to come alive--a need for teachers who love children and want to inspire them to have a great moral character and to learn how to read (as our test scores as a nation have gone down every year for almost 20 years.) When I hear of all the latch key children, I want to find a way to train more mothers to find ways to stay at home, or to spend more time with their wee ones,  in order to fill the emotional, spiritual and moral cups of their children. When I see the immorality, violence, emptiness and lies in media and in movies, I long to see passionate, artistic, insightful and skillful Christians rise up to reclaim the arts for the Lord.

And on and on. Christ has a passion for bringing God's glory in every arena of life and He seeks to raise up those who would boldly redeem back areas of darkness in His power and in His name. Yet, he has designed that there would be specific trainers of the next generation that would be able to train up godly, inspired leaders---mothers!

How Did Dreaming express itself through my life?

I remember in the movie, The Chariots of Fire, when the olympic gold medalist Eric Liddel was talking to his sister about his running, He said, "When I run, I feel His pleasure--God made me to run!"

I feel that same thing about speaking. When I stand up to speak to a crowd of 10 or a crowd of countless women, I feel His pleasure--I feel that there is a blessing and power that I was created to walk in. I understood what Eric meant!

I remember that when I was a young woman, I dreamed about speaking and writing--I was driven toward it. When we nurture the Spirit of God in our lives, we will find pleasure and passion in those areas that God has created us to do. Of course, it may take hard work and most of our lives is about faithfulness and growing, but each of us was designed by God to accomplish His work through our lives.

One of my friends was having coffee with me in Vienna many years ago, once and she said, "You know, Sally, lots of people want to write books, but very few get to really be published.

"Do you really think you will ever get a book published? Is that realistic?"

Of course her words troubled me for a while, but as I prayed, I gave my skills to the Lord and told HIm that I would be faithful in all areas of my life, but that I would also try to be faithful to practice writing and speaking--to use it to encourage my friends in letters, that I would speak to children, adults, whoever and wherever He took me, for His glory.

And if He wanted me to get published, fine, but meanwhile, I pledged to be as faithful as I knew how. Many of those years, I was speaking to my children in our own home, passionately sharing from what He had given to me in my quiet time. This is where I found my joy--sharing passionately with those I loved the most! It was from this small arena, that God caused my ministry to blossom, from practicing being faithful in small things.

Part 3 tomorrow--What are your gifts? Dreams? How are you defining them and acting on them?

An Ode to Tired Mamas Revisited: Desperate Chapter 9



There once was a sweet mom with children, Who worked day and night just to serve them, She cleaned and she cooked and she taught and she booked, Till she died of exhaustion and left them.

Ok, ok--it's not great poetry, but I did think there should be a short dedication to all the moms who have given and given and given, with nary a one to appreciate them!

I got tickled a while ago. I had written the blog about taking Nathan to dedicate him to the Lord after taking him out to lunch and a hike, and then the little story about taking Joy out for her 13th birthday. A sweet mom who read the blog was probably sending a comment to a friend … but accidentally pushed the reply button and sent her email to me which said, "She makes me tired!" (I have done this before, too, much to my horror--meaning to send a comment to Clay and instead sending it to the person who wrote it! Grace and peace--don't worry!)

We all compare ourselves to others too often and we all come up short on someone's scale. When you compare yourself, it leads only to pride and causes you to criticize others, or you will have envy and think, wrongly, that others are better than you and wish that your life was different. Comparing never accomplishes anything positive in the long run--and thank goodness, God does not judge us by someone else's arbitrary standard. (Though we do have so many voices in our heads telling us otherwise.)

But, I do think this task of "ideal" mothering is such a tiring calling and we all put ourselves under so much pressure to be perfect when we have too many sinful children, no support systems, no breaks, no full time maids, and they all want  to eat and wear reasonably clean clothes every day !  And we are responsible for their character, manners, education and spiritual outcome, sense of well-being and happiness! A lot to ask.

If there is one area of family life that takes the breath out of me, it is housework.

The relentlessness of housework is probably my biggest source of stress. I was never taught how to keep house or how to cook or wash clothes or how to organize, or or or.

The work just happened in my home (and my mom did have outside help!) But I just never took notice.

Clay is naturally organized and is much better at organizing the house than I would ever be. I am great at decorating and building ambiance and loving, but all the things that have to be organized and the details of the fridge, the wash, the bills and the toys and the papers--well, you get the picture--these are just too much for me.

But God gave me my personality and He knows my limitations and isn't biting His nails to see if I am going to be perfect at the task. 

Knowing that He knows my limitations takes a little pressure off. A perfect house, a Martha Stewart standard is not what is expected.

As Joel, my son, once well said when I was in a tizzy over the messy house. "Mom, we will clean the house and it will just get messy again. But when you are sad, we feel guilty, like we have done something wrong. But when you are happy, we feel happy and like we are the greatest family in the world.

So, Mom, lighten up and we will all be ok!"


We moms are giving out at a much faster rate than we are taking in and so depletion and exhaustion are normal.

Add to that, the fact that most of us were never trained. I love the verse in Proverbs that says, "Where there are no oxen, the stalls are clean." I have at least six oxen in my stalls all the time, so my stall is always in different degrees of clean-ness!

So, I will give just a few tips that have helped me. I have learned that my capacity to keep everything going and to create a home that is orderly is much more than I thought. I have learned to work harder and to accomplish more than I ever thought possible. It is like exercising a muscle--eventually you do become stronger. Doing it for so many years over and over again has shown me that I have gotten stronger and more able to do a lot of work.


1. Copy other organized women. I am not natural at this, so I actively take notice of other's systems and articles that give me practical advice.

2. Have at least one time during the week when you do a basic cleaning. (Bathrooms, vacuum, dust, etc.)

3. Daily, put on up-tempo music and pick up the main areas (with your children all helping) for 15 minutes. It makes going into the evening a little easier if the messes are not all over.

4. When possible, simplify--fruit and homemade bread and cheese or nuts for dinner. Simpler and fewer clothes. Boxes or drawers or bags for everything to go back into at nights, routines daily that teach and give expectation to the kids and you what needs to be accomplished as an anchor to the life of the home.

Another essential is to always make sure your children are involved in all of the tasks, starting when they are little. (I started all of my children around 3 to put the silverware in the silverware basket. It helped them to learn sorting and they actually liked it! This is to give them a self-image or sense of it being a "part of their lives" to help and work hard. My kids have learned to do a lot of work, learning one task at a time, and practicing it over and over again. We had a "team" effect in our house--we are all in this together sort of community--it was an expectation and so we didn't have to talk about it daily.

I just want to affirm all of you who are hard on yourselves and want to give up---

You are making a difference in this world! Your work is eternal and extremely important! Your little ones don't know if you are good or efficient at housework, they just want to enjoy that place they live and have a happy mama. 

Don't give up-- ever, ever, ever!

But ...

take a break!--schedule it in--every day, for a one-woman cup of tea or coffee and tell yourself, you are good, you are valued, you are precious and you matter a whole lot! Live only in grace and not overwhelmed-ness--even 15 minutes a day of a self-pep-talk and peace can make the whole day work better. (I see the pep talk as taking every thought captive to the truth about you--He loves you and is with you.) A little mama break is as important as getting all the rest done--because you can do it all with a lighter heart and maybe even exercise joy!


Blessings and blessings, oh dear fellow mama civilizer!


What is your most difficult task in housework? What gets you down the most? How can you make a plan to lessen this stress?