mothering in the deep

IMG_2481Lately I have been thinking of a phrase Grant mentioned in his sermon a few weeks ago, God for God. Last summer, God brought us our son, Patrick.  This little boy’s presence in our home has brought such joy. I cannot contain myself from documenting and enjoying and thanking God for all the moments with him!

But I don’t want to just love God for the blessings He brings, I want God for God. It can be easy to talk about God as a means to an end ~ wanting God so I can be a better wife, a more loving mom, or have more well behaved children. So much of this conversation focuses on what God does for me.

This is a shallow faith. A faith that focuses on the external and the temporal. A faith that can easily put Jesus in a tag line, as if He is the same as other loves.

I want something more than that kind of faith. I want something deeper. I want something deeper for my children.

For in the deep is where our children learn about God. It’s where they learn that they are small and God is big. In the deep they learn that there is a great Creator who made all things and holds their very life and breath.

Motherhood is not about playing in the shallow end. Godly motherhood is about going deep.

But how do we do that?

I think the only way to go deep with our children and disciple them the way we ought, is by going deep ourselves.

By loving God for God.

Because here’s the thing, we can’t take our children places we’ve never been.

Here is what I am realizing about myself: I am prone to a life of superficial shallowness and it takes intentionality for me to go deep with my children. It takes commitment and a discipline to use ordinary moments to take them deep.IMG_2307

And to do that, I have to be willing to go deep with God myself. But realistically, how do I do that in the chaos? How do I make that happen when there are little ones to feed, interruptions, and messes? How do I go deep with God in the mundane day-to-day?

First, and absolutely the most important thing is to be in a church where the Bible is taught every week and Christ is at the center. The church is where Christ ministers to you. It’s where you encounter the Word of God outside of yourself. It’s where you encounter Christ’s body. If you aren’t in a church like this, share with your husband your desire to be in a Christ exalting, Bible believing church. If you aren’t faithful to be in a body of believers where the Word is taught, you will dry up spiritually. A great place to start is right here. I look forward to Sunday all week. Some weeks I feel like it’s Sunday that sustains my Monday through Saturday.

Secondly, be in God’s Word daily. There’s no other way to hear from God than through His Word. This is God speaking to you. So to go deep with God, you must hear His voice. I think too often as women we let this slide because there are so many needs around us to attend to. But this is something we cannot live without. Just like you need physical food to power through your day, so you need God’s Word. I’ve had to let go of my expectations of how this time will look for me. Sometimes, I’m reading with children on my lap. Sometimes I’m reading with kids running around the house. Sometimes I’m reading in the car or listening to the Bible on audio while I get ready for the day. But whether it’s fast food or a sit down and enjoyable dinner, God has shown me how desperately I need His Word. If you don’t know where to start, this is the plan I use. I use it like a checklist and worry less about the date, and more about the fact that I am moving forward in His Word, and I am being nourished.

IMG_4850Third, I listen to sermons and podcasts during the week. Paul instructs us in Philippians 4:8 to set our minds on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, and excellent. He also says in Colossions 3:2, “Set your minds on things above.”  I do my best to grab pockets of time when my children are working on an assignment, having rest time, or I’m folding laundry. My favorite thing to do is listen to a pastor expound a text that I just read in my morning Bible reading. There is so much I read that I don’t understand. I have been amazed by how the Holy Spirit has grown me through this practice! I also love listening to old Elisabeth Elliot’s broadcasts or listening to hymns to feed my soul on doctrinal truth.

Fourth, reaching out to godly women for help. This is why Titus 2 is so important for us as women and as mothers. We can’t do it on our own. We desperately need older women to teach us what it looks like to swim the depths of life. We need women we can pick up the phone and call when we feel like we are drowning. We need to see what it looks like to be ALL IN with our kids in whatever season we are in. We need women in our lives who aren’t content to sit on the sidelines, but have spent years diving into the depths of God.

Fifth, prayer. Prayer is more than me making my requests known to God. Prayer is communion with God. Prayer is intimacy with God. Prayer is knowing God. To strive to be a woman of depth, but fail to be a woman of prayer, is to fail all together. The deep women of God, pray. As I grow in my walk with the Lord, prayer has become easier. I notice that I’m using more Scripture in my prayers. That when I pray, I mean it. A couple weeks ago I read the book of Jonah. Before I knew it I had prayed with my kids, “Lord, just like you caused that great fish to vomit out Jonah, will you answer this prayer?” (my kids thought that was pretty funny too). But wherever I am and whatever I am doing, there is an opportunity to go deep in my prayer life with the Lord. That the God of the universe, maker of heaven and earth would heard my prayers is truly amazing.

I want to go deep with God and I want my children to go deep with God. I want to go to places I’ve never been in my relationship with Him, and I don’t want to leave my children in the shallows. I want to take them with me. I want God for God.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! Romans 11:33

 

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PS ~ trying to post here more, but you can find me the most on instagram, @castleberryhearts

 

 

Dream Big, My Darling Daughters

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It was Saturday morning and I turned on the Disney channel for my girls to watch Doc McStuffins while I cleaned the kitchen after our slow and sticky breakfast.

I tuned out the noise of their show, until a Disney commercial drew me back in and I leaned over the sink to get the TV in my line of sight.

My little girls were glued as Disney princesses began to dance across the screen and the narrator opened with,

“For every girl who dreams big, there is a princess to show her it’s possible…”

Then the catchy, motivating, inspiring music came on,

You could be the hero

You could get the gold

Breaking all the records they thought, never could be broke

As the song continued, little girls did brave things on the screen: splashing into a lake from a rope swing, hitting the bullseye with a bow & arrow, and diving off the diving board to name just a few.

The music continued,

Do it for your people

Do it for your pride

How you ever gonna know if you never even try?

Do it for your country

Do it for your name

 

Besides the catchy and inspiring tune, there was a lot to like about the message of the commercial. Be strong. Be brave. Try even if it means you fail. Do something for your people. Your country. Your family.

But then the next part is what really hit me.

‘Cause there’s gonna be a day

When your standing in the hall of fame

And the world’s gonna know your name

‘Cause you burn with the brightest flame

And the world’s gonna know your name

And you’ll be on the walls of the hall of fame

I watched my little girls’ faces as the song came to a close, Pocahontas staring off in to the distance, rose petals swirling.

I began to think about what I would say to them. How I would point to the good while denying the message of self-glory that permeated the song?

And that was it – the self-glory – that was what caused an ache deep inside me somewhere.

I want my girls to be strong. I want them to be bold. I don’t want them to be afraid of failure.

But I never, ever want them to believe that their greatest accomplishments are the ones they see in this life. That being famous, popular, or taking the gold is where true happiness is found.

I won’t be sad if they are successful materially or socially in this life. I wan’t them to do what they enjoy and love. But I pray that whatever shoots they grow here in this world, their roots in God’s kingdom are at least twice as deep.

This is where the invisible line is drawn.

Between the girls who grow up to believe that this life holds true happiness and the girls who know that this world is just the shadow.

This of course is the message of God’s kingdom versus the message of the world.

The world says, “Let the world know your name!”

Jesus says, “The meek will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).”

The world says, “Be first!”

Jesus says, “The last shall be first and the first last (Matthew 20:16).”

It doesn’t make sense, but it is the gospel.

We bring nothing. He offers everything (2 Kings 5:13-14).

He was born in a manger not a palace. He suffered on a cross instead of bringing a political and military victory. A crown of thorns instead of gold. Buried in another’s  tomb instead of the royal burial He deserved.

He said His way is narrow and not broad (Matthew 7:14).

It is all just so paradoxical.

That living for His glory not our own is what it actually means to invest in the Kingdom.

It all matters so much. The things nobody sees but that are done in the name of Jesus.

The young woman serving on the mission field. The single mom trusting God with her future. The seminary wife living on a tight budget. The mother rocking her baby in the solitude of the night. The daughter caring for an ailing parent. The mom pleading to God on behalf of her wayward child. The woman who serves faithfully week in and week out in her church.

Some of the greatest acts of valor may never be known in this life. But there are women all over the world investing in a kingdom that cannot be seen. Because they love Christ, they have given all they have. They have broken the vial of costly perfume and poured it out on the head of their Savior because they love Him (Mark 14:3).

img_0385-1That is what I want my dear girls to know. That their greatest acts aren’t done in their own strength for their own glory, but for Him. And in those moments, and in this land of the dying, they will find a happiness that cannot be rivaled. It is better than if the whole world were applauding them.

Cause there will be a day, when we are all standing in the true hall of fame. And Jesus will be there – the brightest flame – and we will wonder why we ever wanted to live for our own names. We will forget ourselves and we will thank God for every act of grace He gave us on earth to see beyond the temporal.

So dream big, my darling daughters, because if you are His, He has made it possible. Because you belong to a royal kingdom. And in that kingdom is where the true and happy daughters dwell. And all their dreams come true because they find their beginning and ending in Him.

Being Theirs: squiggly lines and all

  I sat across from my four-year-old at the kitchen table. She had her bundle of brightly colored markers and I had my pen and paper, jotting down items I needed to pick up at the grocery store later that day. 

My preschooler loves to draw. And I am the mom who has a difficult time throwing away any of her masterpieces. I can be ferocious when it comes to cleaning out a junk drawer or my closet for that matter, but the scraps of paper I find all over the house with “mamama” written on them, those are here to stay.

Today though, I heard sighs as my AudreyKate attempted to draw Santa and his sleigh. I had turned on a step-by-step art instructional video when she told me her desire to draw Santa. I felt some extra help was needed. 

And usually she loves following the directions geared just for her age. 

“Mama, mine doesn’t look like his.” She finally exclaimed, disappointment in her voice. 

“It doesn’t look like it’s supposed to look. It doesn’t look perfect.” 

I compared her squiggly lines to the instructor’s smooth and clean ones, and I loved her interpretation all the more.

Santa’s sleigh had character and his bag of gifts was much too big for a sled of that size to haul. Just magical enough. 

And I loved the sweetness of her little hands drawing it just so. 

I turned off the  video and looked into her eyes.

“AudreyKate, I love it! But listen to Mama, the more you practice, the better you will become. But you also need to know that I love what YOU draw. I don’t want what that man drew, I want you! I want your perspective and the way you do it. Just look around the kitchen.” 

Her eyes scanned the room where I had her art taped up all over the sliding glass window and the fridge. 

“See? What would I do without all my AudreyKate drawings? Our house just wouldn’t feel the same.” 

As I spoke words of affirmation into her heart, I was immediately struck with the truth of my own words.

How often do I think, I just wish could do things better.

Keep my house cleaner or more organized. Plan better. Get up even earlier. Eat healthier. Read more. Be more creative, thrifty, and articulate.  

If I could just have it more together like her.

If I could just do it perfectly.

If my lines could be a little less squiggly and a little more smooth.

But as I sat across the table from my almost five-year-old, I realized she doesn’t want that person.

She wants me. 

She likes the way I do things. The way I give hugs. The way I read to her. My smell.  The way we wash dishes or fold laundry together. 

She never once has told me I need to just do things a little more perfectly. 

And neither has my husband.

He loves my cooking.

He tells me I’m “so gifted” and “I love your style,” even though I think he would say that no matter what. 

He likes the routines I’ve developed at home, my efforts at teaching and training our children, and the dates out for the two of us that I randomly schedule. 

“You’re doing great. I love the way you do things,” he says.

I know I have areas where I need to grow, much to strive and reach for, but my family doesn’t see all that, they see ME.

Titus 2:4 says “urge the younger women to love THEIR husbands and children” (emphasis mine).

Not someone else’s.

 Because they don’t want anyone else. 

 They want YOU.

At the end of the day, your husband doesn’t want someone else’s perpective, he wants yours. 

He doesn’t want someone else’s touch, he wants yours. 

He doesn’t care how so-and-so blogger does it, he loves how you do it.

And your children don’t want adventure mom, minimalist mom, vintage mom, fixer-upper mom, clean-eats mom, running mom, trendy mom, or scholar mom. 

They want THEIR mom.

Whether you’re all of those things or none. 

Because the song of your heart is more beautiful to them than the perfection of any symphony. 

Just like drawings taped to the refrigerator door, your talents are what they long for because they love you. 

So as you start a new week, remember that God has called you to the best sort of task – being THEIRS. 

Squiggly lines and all. 

The Dior Woman and True Freedom

Many people would look at my life (with a husband and three children) and say that I have no freedom. Today I share my heart on these things at CBMW

  I usually do not give much notice to commercials (fast forwarding whenever possible), but recently an advertisement for the perfume, Miss Dior, did exactly what the producer intended – it caught my full attention.

In the film, Natalie Portman stars as a runaway bride. The wedding venue and dress exude absolute perfection. But the film is strangely black and white.

Read the rest here 

Praise, Pray, and Peg Away

  
I really want to be a good mom. I want to be generous in love and consistent in discipline. I want to dig in, not merely get through the day or a stage. 
And the honest truth is, I love this task I’ve been called to. I really do. 
I love the newborn and baby stage. I love the toddler age. 

I know there are many events and opportunities I’ve “missed” these past four and a half years, but I don’t even care. The moments spent with my children have been worth any experience I could have had otherwise. 

But with that being said, this job is hard. Really hard. And there are two realities that annoyingly get in the way:

1). I am a sinner. 2). My kids are sinners. 

And some days, we seem to be a little more sinful than on others. 

I was recently having such a day and I expressed my frustration to Grant saying, “I don’t know if it’s me or if it’s them.” 

He replied, “Both.” 

“Thanks, Grant.”

This week, we have been in Wheaton, IL while Grant is conducting PhD research in the Billy Graham Archives. 

Today, while he was going through documents, he thoughtfully pulled an article he knew I would like. It is a little piece published in June of 1957 on Ruth Graham, highlighting her role as wife and mother. 

I haven’t read much on Mrs. Graham’s life, but the article mentioned that she had a motto she put into practice, “Praise and Pray and Peg away.” 

Mrs. Graham was often mothering alone (5 kids) while her famous husband was away preaching. 

She did not have it easy. 

As moms, at times we may be tempted to think that our lives are particularly difficult. 

Our child is more strong willed than someone else’s. Or our husband travels more. Or you name it. I know I’ve been down that road. 

While this may be true in some situations, I’ve humbly come to realize that for the most part it is probably not. Everyone has their struggles.

The biggest punch in the gut comparison is more accurately how we handle it.

Mrs. Graham, for example, lived by a little motto. 

Praise. Pray. Peg away. 

I love that. 

Praise God when the first inclination is to complain. Praise Him that He is doing something good even when it feels like He is not. Thank Him for His innumerable blessings. Praise Him for His ever available grace.   

Pray. Get on your knees and cry out to God for help. The bed wetting situation? Pray. The picky eater? Pray. The obedience problem? Pray. 

He didn’t just promise to listen when you are in the pew. He is always listening! 

“For you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10

Peg away. Keep moving. Do the next thing. Wash the next dish. Wipe the tears. Make dinner. Trust God to work in great ways. 

I don’t know what tomorrow will hold, but thank you Mrs. Graham for living by a motto that aligns my heart in the good way. 

That’s better than any “pick me up,” “me time,” or “break.” 

Because being a good mother means quite simply walking in the good way. 

So tomorrow I want praise more, pray more, and keep pegging away. And as the insightful Anne Shirley said, “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” 

A World With Octobers

IMG_1563As a young girl, October was always my favorite month of the year. Its arrival meant my birthday, the much-anticipated harvest festival our church held at a nearby farm, and being able to sit on the front porch instead of inside to work on school lessons.

I can pretty confidently say October is still my favorite month, though I have learned I really do love all the “in between” weeks nestled in each season the best. Those glorious days when spring finally breaks through the cold of winter, the inaugural “hot” day of summer, the first snowflake of winter, and of course the transition from the warmth of summer to all that is so beautiful about fall. What a blessing the Lord brings change into our lives and that even the weather has a dynamic rotation.

But as much as I love change, when it comes to mothering and life in general, transition is not always easy. Just yesterday morning a new picture greeted me from my Timehop, transporting me to a memory three years ago.

My oldest was basically a baby and all the thoughts and feelings of that day and the emotions of that fall of first arriving at seminary came flooding back. The people. The places. The joys and the struggles.

How has it been three years already?

And the shocking thing about being a mother is the realization my children grow so quickly, and with each change of the season, they are not the same.

As I opened my Bible, pondering these things and praying through Psalm 1, my soul immediately found perspective:

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,

Nor stand in the path of sinners,

Nor sit in the seat of scoffers:

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,

And in His law he meditates day and night.

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,

Which yields its fruit in its season, 

And its leaf does not wither;

And in whatever he does he prospers.

When I look back on the past few years and even further, I am grateful for the Lord’s faithfulness. Every day I get to be a wife to Grant and a mom to my kids is truly a privilege and a gift.

My heart fills with nostalgic joy when I remember the day Grant and I got married and for each day we have had with our children. I cherish the fruit the Lord has brought in each season.

But I cannot go back. And just like it is impossible to store produce for very long, I cannot cling to the things of the past.

And each day I live, my memories from each new season only grow.

But what an encouragement it is when God brings a new season.

There is fresh and good fruit to be produced in my life today. New ways to pour out my heart to God. New ways to encourage my husband. New songs to sing to my children. New memories. New ways to see God working. 12068505_10107201162060384_8776554053182777259_o

It would be hard to live in a world without Octobers. But even harder to live in a world where God did not faithfully make things new in our hearts.

There is new fruit to be produced.

And that warms my heart this October.

“Choice fruits, new as well as old, which I have laid up for you, O my beloved.”

Life Update & Conference Messages

It has been IMG_7677a busy season for us and I have been meaning to post a bit of an update here on my blog for quite a while. Grant graduated with his M.Div. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in May. We are thankful to the Lord to have made it through this phase of his theological training. It was indeed a “phase” of sorts because he will continue his education over the next few years and Lord willing, receive his PhD! More about that later though.

Right before Grant’s graduation, we flew out to Colorado for Grant to teach a conference on marriage, biblical manhood and womanhood, and sexuality. I normally do not travel with Grant when he speaks, but since it was Colorado, he made all the arrangements for me to come along.

It was a very busy and packed trip as Grant was also studying for finals in his spare time when he wasn’t teaching. We were incredibly blessed by the body of Christ there and made some wonderful relationships I know we will keep!

That being said, I’ve been wanting to get some of Grant’s talks up here ever since May!

They are linked below. I hope God encourages your heart through them!

Castleberry2015-0722cropThe Honor of God in the Cultural Storm

Biblical Overview of Marriage and Biblical Manhood & Womanhood

The Beauty of a Christian Marriage

Speaking the Truth in Love: The Christian Response to Homosexuality

Thank You Mrs. Elliot

  I was 15 years old when my mom first gave me a copy of Passion & Purity. I sat in a lawn chair in our backyard and almost read it straight through until I was drenched in sweat and the morning sun had turned into a blazing afternoon.
I couldn’t put it down. 
In the coming years I devoured her writings….

Read the rest here

Always Room

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I put together a beautiful nursery for our oldest, AudreyKate, months before she emerged from my womb. I chose a soft green color for her walls and an artist from our church painted the most beautiful and delicate birds “perching” in different corners of her room.  With each passing week of my pregnancy I would add another finishing touch to her space. It was a way for me to say, “You are loved” before she was even born.

She was in that nursery 17 months before God called us away from our yellow house with the screened in porch and my “kitchen sink river view.”

I didn’t know how much I had to learn as we drove miles away from the coast I’d loved since I was a child.

Our first few weeks in our apartment were hard for me. The place seemed dark inside, even on sunny days. A grandeur cliff blocks much of the sunlight along with the limited windows that come with living in an apartment.

I quoted lines from Great Is Thy Faithfulness to comfort my soul on those new and unfamiliar mornings.

Of course, hardly anything from AudreyKate’s old nursery fit in the girls’ new nursery (yes girls, Evangeline was born 2 months after we moved).

I rearranged then gave things away.

Rearranged and gave more away.

All those little touches of love I had put up before seemed to be walking right out the door. This wasn’t the sweet “crowded but full of love” seminary home I had pictured.

I became incredibly thankful for the unusually spacious closets in our new place.

It was a life changing moment the day I discovered the pack n play fit perfectly inside. There was even room for a fan to keep fresh air circulating with the door cracked.

I got rid of more of my things.

My new nursery.

And so it became for our sweet Charles too. No baby blue bedding and no place to hang the “cow jumped over the moon” print I had been saving since my sister-in-law passed it down to me.

Not much room.

But just enough.

It is amazing what tiny walls can do for a crowded heart.

Moving out selfishness and reminding me that sacrifice is not just something someone else does when they battle cancer or move overseas.

Sacrifice is what God has called me to right now. Whatever it is.

His call is resoundingly and often difficultly clear, “Follow me.”

And when I do, I realize that true joy isn’t found in what I have or don’t have or what I long for, but in how I serve.

Because that is what Christianity is truly all about.

His exultation was not in fan fair or “number of followers” or “likes,” but on a wooden cross of shame.

He became poor so that we might become rich.

He “came to die.”

There was a song I sang as a child that went like this:

What can I give Him poor as I am? If I were a shepherd I would bring Him a lamb. If I were a wiseman I would sure do my part. What can I give Him? I will give Him my heart.

No sacrifice is too great for Him. But none is too small.

Because it’s not about the nursery, or the lack of space, or whatever it is for you. 

It’s about your heart.

You are LOVED.

And with Him there is always plenty of room.

Let’s Stay Home

It’s been two months since I made the big transition from being of mom of 2, to a mom of 3!

Phew!

With that transition, I’ve spent a lot of time at home. Including my first week home from the hospital when a blizzard hit and I didn’t step out the front door for a week. A week! Never in my life has that happened and I kind of hope it never does again.

Times of transition and change always seem to provide a good opportunity to reflect and reevaluate things in my life. When it comes to mothering, I look back on what the season has been like, the challenges I’ve faced, and the areas I most want to grow.

With adding a third baby to the mix (and currently not getting out as often as I was), I’ve come to appreciate being at home even more. The Lord has been faithful to remind me that my home is where I am most needed and along with service to my church, is the most important place I spend my time.

Here are just three things I’ve been pondering the past couple weeks:

My children need me to be home

Even as a stay-at-home mom (which I like to call work-at-home mom ;-)), it can still be very easy to always be on the go. There is often so much to do and a plethora of options to fill up my time: groceries, errands, library, park, play dates, post office, ballet, swim, gym, and of course, Target!

I love being active and getting things done during the week. But I am also realizing that when I am constantly on the go, I’m more prone to miss things with my kids. I’m buckling carseats and making sure hands are held and the baby isn’t crying and lists aren’t flying and no one is wetting their pants for goodness sake! It’s much easier for me to get impatient, stressed, and misjudge situations with my children.

These days at home have taught me the importance of streamlining my week as much as I am able (because all of the things above are good things) so that I have more undistracted time with my children at home.

I need to slow down and really listen to their stories and made-up songs.

IMG_6618I need to say “yes” more than “not right now” when they say, “Mommy can you color with me?”And maybe even learn to draw a strange creature called a “minion” (even if I have to watch a youtube art lesson).

I need to show them how to clean their room (and not just expect them to know).

I need to pray for them and with them when they tell me that they want to believe in Jesus but they don’t understand why they can’t see Him right now and that they really wish He would just come sit on their bed.

I need to take the time to lay down with them and tell them story after story of “when you were a little girl” because one day they won’t be either.

A relationship cannot grow unless it is cultivated. And their little hearts are the softest kind of soil.

I need to be home

I think there can be a lot of pressure from others and even from ourselves, to always be on the go. 5 little words have been a great comfort to me lately, “It’s okay to stay home.”

And it is not only okay, it is good.

Titus 2 teaches us as young wives and moms that our home is not only where we should be busy, but that we actually need older women to remind us to spend our time there because we often forget.

What a load of pressure was recently lifted off of me when I shared with an older woman that I couldn’t seem to get out the door the same way as before and she gently reminded me I didn’t need to.IMG_6764

It’s okay to not get all those errands accomplished. It’s okay to not make every play date or library hour. It’s okay to spend an hour coloring and then two hours trying to clean it all up. It’s okay. 

I recently found a sweet print online that says, “Let’s Stay Home.” I printed it out and put it on my fridge because it reminds me of a little four year old who says to me often, “I just want to be home today.” 

And I want to say on more days than one, “Yes, that is exactly the plan.

My husband needs me to be home

It’s often said, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” It’s true though isn’t it? I’ve found that when I try to do too much outside my home, I’m not the happy and kind wife my husband loves to love.

When I make more time to be in the Word and focus my energies where they truly need to be, I am less frazzled and more content when my man walks through the door.

And even my Texan who thinks big and doesn’t analyze details will express in his way how much he appreciates how I’ve made our place a home.

He wants to come home not just because I’m there, but because he knows I want to be there. And that makes all the difference.

Because when I’m happy to be home, all those moments of cleaning up spilled milk, folding yet another pile of laundry, organizing a junk drawer, or wiping down a dirty toilet lid, show how much I love this life we’ve made together.

It says this home matters to me because you do.

I’m not just a “cleaning lady” who cleans to clean, I clean because I love.

I wash dishes because I love.

I wake up in the middle of the night to feed a baby because I love.

I clean a dirty oven because I love.

I make my husband his favorite dessert because I love.

I read stories in my pajamas without make-up on because I love.

I make paper chains and paper snowmen not because I’m “crafty” but because I love.

I do things that may seem meaningless to others or a waste of my mental energies because I love.

I love my husband. I love my children. And on top of all that, God is happy that I do (Titus 2:4).

So I think I will enjoy this season for a very long time.

And as much as I can, say, “Let’s stay home.”