"She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her."
- Proverbs 3:15
Early this new year, I had an opportunity to spend some time visiting with my branch pastors. I did so after getting a prompting that I first, needed some time to think, and that secondly, there was something there for me to learn. In my twenties, I spent a great deal of time focused on order. From my schedule to my closet, to my relationships. My boundaries were locked tight and impenetrable, and mostly unbearable for everyone else who had to live with them. Meeting my husband began what I called “The Unraveling of the Alpa Woman", which needed to happen in many ways because of the motives behind the order. You see, growing up in an environment of emotional conflict made me very attuned to controlling my physical space. It also made me quite rigid. This rigidity showed in my workplace, friendships and really any environment I found myself in. But all of that changed as life happened to my family these past five years. It was as if God was tearing me down, only to rebuild me.
As my family enters a new season, I feel God calling me to restructure and rebuild my Iife, but this time, with different intentions. A wise woman builds her home. As I spent time observing our pastor’s wife, who I lovingly refer to as “Mama J”, I observed how she “mothered” everyone around her. Breakfast was made early in the morning and so were to-go bags. Lists were neatly posted on the wall, telling her children what was for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Everyone entered the house, removed their shoes and washed their hands. The house was peaceful, but not because there was no fun. Even with a teenager and young children, you could feel the peace. The family woke up early in the morning to pray. It reminded me of being with my mother before life hit my childhood home with more storms we could bear. My happiest memories of my childhood were created while growing up in a tiny home, where I shared a room with my two sisters. It was the birthdays, our bike rides, and family movie nights that made our childhood so special. No matter what was going on, my mother never showed it, she just loved. Over and over again. Her love became our stability amidst great confusion. Even today, that love remains constant and stable. I think God was trying to teach me I needed to rebuild my home on a foundation called love. As grace would have it, I walked away from that weekend carrying away four important lessons from Mama J about motherhood.
Here are four things I think every busy mom should remember:
“Proper planning prevents poor performance.”
When your life is busy, you need a plan. Whether it is a simple meal plan, or a complex strategic plan for work, planning time is essential. This year, I am setting aside a few planning days each month. Some time where I can be still and with my thoughts to think through my complex Iife and sometimes unpredictable schedule. While the intent is to remain flexible, some pieces must be in place to ensure proper execution and performance.
“Exercise. Get in where you fit in.”
If you find yourself struggling to find time to squeeze in the gym, walk the grocery store. Mama J advised me to use your shopping time for exercise, walk the entire perimeter and aisles of the grocery store even if you are buying just one item so you can build up those steps on weeks you simply can’t make it to the gym. We tried it last week, along with the meal plan, and I must say it made my week 10x less stressful.
"Remember things accurately. Don’t blame people for things they didn’t know.”
One of my greatest pains from the NICU came from people not reaching out and supporting the way I thought they should. However, as Mama J provided her perspective on the experience, she explained that most people felt we only wanted a limited number of people around us. Which was totally true. Nonetheless, God’s grace was sufficient, which I think the Lord used our experience to teach me that as long as my eyes were on him, he wouldn’t let me fall.
"When we walk with the Lord, God hears the prayers of our hearts and answers before we even have a chance to say them out loud.”
The bible teaches us that sixteen-year-old King Uzziah was “MARVELOUSLY HELPED” until he was strong. This is a prayer I keep on my heart for my family and son on a regular basis. During our conversation, Mama J shared some of her struggles with managing working full time, ministry, marriage, and raising three very intelligent and active children. She told me how she said a prayer in her heart and God answered her before she could even speak it out. She reminded me that God could hear my prayers, even the ones I hadn't said yet, and that he would answer them before I could call. It was truly comforting.
All in all, my time at Mama J’s gave me rest and solace from my very busy life and taught me that even though my life would never go back to the gated community of hyper-structure it was once, there was a way to create peace and order in the chaos by inviting God into my situation so he could calm the storm. I hope these four lessons help you as much as they helped me. You can reach Mama J on Instagram and see her every Sunday at our church, Jubilee Place in Lindenwold, New Jersey. She is truly a sight to behold.
Iron Sharpens Iron...
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