Currently my husband and I are being mentored by an older married couple from church and I finally joined a seven week mentoring program at my church called Apples of Gold. I say finally because I have been wanting to do this program for probably five plus years but the timing never fully worked out for me. Honestly the timing now is a bit crazy too but Im starting to realize there may never be a perfect time in my life right now. This program is led by older women who have a passion for helping younger married women.
The two main focus scriptures is Proverbs 24:11
A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver
Bid the older women likewise to be reverent in their behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be sensible, chaste, domestic,kind, submissive to their husbands, the the word of God many not be discredited.
Many of the women have been married for forty plus years and you can feel the love and their gift of hospitality as soon as you walk in the doors. It is held at one of the mentor's home and they teach many different lessons that I sum up to "how to be a good wife, mother, and woman of God." They cook a full sit down meal for us each week, give meal prep demonstrations, recipes, bible study, and host a sweet couples dinner/date night with our husbands. So far it has been such a blessing to be apart of and I am so thankful my church offers this program.
At a recent Apples of Gold session, as prayer requests were circulating, I noticed that a common prayer among us younger ladies was for God to help us to not be so hard on ourselves. There was a feeling of not being enough; some in our work lives, at home as wives, or as mothers. It wasn't that anyone was telling us that we weren't doing enough, it was our own minds tricking us to believe that we were not. I know I personally question if Im being a good enough mom to my girls.. Am I letting my daughter play on iPad too much or do they watch too much tv. I'm guilty of using sesame street just to cook, shower, breathe! Are they getting healthy foods to eat? Am I praising her enough when I feel like I am always in the middle of some reprimand about not sharing with sister, or begging for her to finish her food, and pick up her toys . Society tells me that I am supposed to be this strong woman who can do it all. Im supposed to be able to work full time, be a mom full time, be a wife full time, AND have a booming social life, all while looking great the entire time. Sure there are women out there that can DO IT ALL but that doesn't mean that is what God has intended for my own life. Its ok for me to focus on the season I am in now and NOT be SUPERWOMAN all the time. I am learning how to embrace God's plans for me without comparing myself to others.
One of the ladies said, "that if we believe that God is all powerful, all knowing, can create something from nothing and that He created us in his own image, how could we ever feel that what He created IN US is not good enough FOR US, without saying that God made a mistake." When God knit me together in my mother's womb he made me important and good enough from the start. If we start looking at ourselves the way God looks at us and stop comparing our lives to others we would understand the love and purpose He has for us. I don't say this to say that we can never strive to do more with our lives or fulfill God's purpose whatever that may look like for you, but please don't think God made any mistakes when he created you just the way you are. Just strive to be the best you!
I grew up hearing "I am too blessed to be stressed" and don't get me wrong I completely understand the phrase. I know that if I focused solely on all the good that God has done and changed in me, I wouldn't have as much time to stress about the things I can't control. I also know that high levels of stress and worry in your life is unhealthy and definitely not the way I believe God would want us to live. Soooo now that I got that out of the way. The other day as I sat in church, I randomly thought about that saying and how I truly feel blessed in my life but I also have some stressors too. Can I not be blessed and sometimes stressed all at the same time?? Is it possible that some of the many blessings in my life can cause some level of stress as well?
Well I am a mother of two children under the age of 3 (need I say more??)
I am so blessed to have two beautiful daughters who are healthy and smart. I am grateful to God for allowing me to be their mother but lets keep it real parenting brings a certain level of stress in and of itself. My husband and I just dealt with about two weeks of the typical childhood virus that ping ponged between both girls. Between birthday parties, library and park visits, nursery, school, and play dates there is NO escaping those germs. It was an exhausting couple of weeks getting them back to normal only to know that the next germy virus may be right around the corner.
What about the messes that children make? After having children I have relaxed my OCD standards on clean a bit. I would have to clean up every twenty minutes just to keep everything in its place and in the words of Sweet Brown, "ain't nobody got time for that!" The play dough bits under the table, the crumbs to feed a brigade of ants, the purple ink drawing on my dining room table that Im too lazy to sand out, not to mention about 75% of the time snack, lunch, and dinner (when Im able to get my two year old to each anything other than french fries, goldfish and fruit snacks) ends up someplace on the floor. For my personality this SCREAMS stress. I've even put a large smock on my daughter before she ate ravioli, which she now calls a "raincoat." Laugh if you want but seriously less than five seconds later (After this picture) the whole bowl of ravioli fell and spilled all over that smock and none got on her clothes. I was prepared this time!!
How is it that I had no clue of all the explaining, repeating, and repeating some more I would have to do as a parent. I thought I had it all figured out-you know before I had kids when I was an expert in child-rearing and discipline. Yes I was THAT person who knew what everyone else needed to do to have well behaved kids out in public. I mean seriously how hard can it be to get a two year old to listen?!?! HARD! I'll just say God has truly humbled me. I am blessed to have a head strong little girl who is not afraid to speak up, but I would be lying if I said it was never stressful. Only God knows how she has the ability to bring me to my knees in prayer just to make it through some days. My babies bring me such joy and my life is full with them and no matter how many times I have to sweep up goldfish crumbs, I know that I am blessed too.
There are many other factors in life that can bring stress: marriage, extended family, work, friendships. Wesley and I have been married eleven years and its sometimes hilarious (well only after the fact) the dumb things we get into "heated conversations" over. For example which route to take to get from point A to point B and then when its all said and done we finally realize that we were both essentially saying the same exact thing but in different ways after we've already wasted 10 minutes of time. I sometimes feel like we are in that Geico commercial, where the couple is in the jungle arguing over directions. Im sure I can come up w/ many more examples of the blessings in our lives that create a bit of stress as well. The next time you are having a particularly stressful day or in the middle of a stressful situation know that it doesn't make you any less blessed. It may seem like a bit of an oxymoron to say that one could be blessed and stressed at the same time but SERIOUSLY that's just the place I'm at in my life right now and Im sure many others can relate.