living on pb & j

Ordinary moms living on Prayer, the Bible, and Jesus!

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The Person in the Front Seat

I have one little worrier in my pack of small children. They can all be emotional and upset at times. But I have one who worries, and worries! If we are headed to storytime at the library, he starts worrying. “Can I stay with you?” “I want to sit right beside you!” “Do I have to do the craft?” … all in a super-whiny voice.

I recently drove 5 hours with all 4 kids (I still feel proud and grown up!) to stay with my mom for a few days. At their church one evening, they had a youth night for children of all ages. My oldest, non-worrying son wanted to go, so we went. On the way there, the little worrier in the back seat kept asking the Mom in the front seat worry-type questions about the evening.

“Can I stay with you the whole time?” “Do I have to play games?” “Will you be in the same room with me?”… all in a super-whiny voice.

I gently tried to reassure him that it would be fun, I would be right with him, and he would love playing the games. But he just kept on, and on.

I finally said, “I am bigger than you, and I know what this evening is going to be like. You will be fine. You need to trust me! I have it all figured out, so stop worrying!”

Then he fell asleep.

Immediately as I said those words, the Lord pointed that little finger right back at me. How many times have I worried about a situation beyond my control? How many times have I tried to ask or tell God what I need Him to do? How many times have I asked for His reassurance, although He has promised His presence over, and over again?!

It was like Jesus said to me, from the front seat, “I am bigger than you, and I know what your life is going to be like. You will be fine. You need to trust me! I have it all figured out!”

Just remember, dear moms, that the Lord is bigger than we are, and He has it all figured out.

<3 Joy

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Coffee With A New Mom

Hey there New Mom!

How’s it going? You just had a new baby, how do we all think you’re doing, right? :) You’re tired aren’t you. Probably feeling a little overwhelmed? Maybe you’re little one is a newborn or maybe he or she is a few months old and the daily grind has set in. I’m currently going through my sixth newborn season. How about we commiserate together for a few minutes? Grab some caffeine (you know you need it), ignore the laundry, and let’s chat.

So maybe your spouse isn’t as helpful as you’d like, especially with those middle of the night feedings. I mean, seriously, doesn’t he understand that 2 A.M. is your prime sleep time? *sigh* Men.

Having trouble getting anywhere on time? Yeah, I understand. That little treasure loves to give out treasures just when it’s time to leave or better yet, they are absolutely STARVING and simply must nurse RIGHT NOW or that car ride is gonna be very loud.

You probably don’t feel like you look your best. Kinda hard to get to the salon isn’t it? And frankly, you still haven’t quite squeezed into your pre-pregnancy clothes yet. I totally understand. My closet mocks me every time I open it. I’m not even sure why I leave those clothes in there that fit me four babies ago. I know it’s just wishful thinking. A girl can dream though, right?

Do you feel pressured by your social media friends and family to post a photo of Junior every hour? Do you worry people might think you’re a questionable mom if in that next photo the baby has on the same onesie they had on in the previous day’s photo?

How about feedings? Worried that little bottomless pit isnt getting enough? What about that random rash or fever? What about finding a pediatician? Maybe you’re just feeling utterly inadequate to raise another human being to adulthood. Maybe, maybe, maybe, if, if, if.

Now, take a deep breath.

Take a loooooong sip of that coffee / tea / carbonated beverage.

If you and I could look each other in the eye right now, I would say to you, it’s all going to be okay. Maybe your husband doesn’t do 2 A.M. feedings or maybe he does. If not, just remember, your little one will sleep through the night eventually. I promise. Trust me, you’d rather have a happy, well-rested hubby than a tired and cranky one. And then you know what? Just when you get used to it, and start enjoying those infomercials they show during the times of night when you’re most vulnerable to buy that collapsable pasta strainer for the unbelievable price of only $9.99 plus S&H and by buying in the next ten minutes you get a second strainer plus a pot and a random flashlight, all free just pay separate S&H, (Maybe I know from experience or maybe I don’t. I’m not telling.) (deep breath) Junior starts sleeping five or six hours straight. Then you will wake up and run to his crib just to make sure he’s still breathing. Then you will start sleeping all night again. Wow! That sounds really good right now doesn’t it? :)

As for getting out of your house and not being late, eventually you will have your little darling worked into the family schedule. I also promise you won’t look haggard forever. People know you’re a new mom. They know those dark circles under your eyes are because you lack sleep because you’re a great mom who feeds her child. And only you know it’s also because you just couldn’t lay that little snuggler back down in their crib after that midnight feeding. (They’re so fun to snuggle aren’t they?)
Maybe you’ll never fit into that pre-pregnancy size again. After all, pregnancy changes the “lay of the land” for good. What better excuse to hit your favorite shops once your body shape figures itself out? Don’t feel bad about it. The new you is a badge of honor. Even if it doesn’t seem like it. You never liked that weird dress your mom got you anyway. (I’m trying to help here! ;) )

And as for all those other things, don’t sweat it! Remember I said I’m going through my sixth newborn season? That means I’ve been on the other side of it five times now. I’ve been where you are. I’ve cried many times over the helplessness and inadequacy that I felt. Look here, don’t you be afraid to ask someone for help. You don’t get a cookie from anyone for “staying strong” and running yourself on fumes. Know your limits. You can do this! But everyone needs help somtimes. :) And you know something else? The Bible says in Psalm 127:3 “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” If God saw fit to bless you with a child, He will sustain you in raising that child! He knows your greatest worries and fears. You can leave them all with Him and just love on that little whipper snapper.

As I leave my empty cup on the table let me say I’ve known a lot of new moms and I’ve been a new mom. We all put up a front, don’t we. But you know something? We all know that we are each going through the same thing. We all feel forgotten, inadequate, fat, frumpy, and hormonal sometimes. And that’s okay. Because at the end of the day, that precious little one is going to snuggle up next to your neck and you will be the greatest thing in their life. They won’t care if hormones are making your hair thinner (temporarily!) or if you are still hanging onto ten pounds of baby weight or if you haven’t had a shower in three days. They will look at you like a super hero. And they will be your greatest accomplishment. Giving birth. Creating and sustaining a human life. You go, girl! Always remember, God loves you. Your spouse loves you. Your family loves you. Your church loves you. And me? I may not know you personally, but you’re a new mom, and I love new moms.

Thanks for letting me spend some time with you. You’re going to be great at this whole mom thing! I’m cheering for you! (Minus the acrobatics. I don’t want to hurt myself! Haha!) Now while the little princess is snoozing like a little angel, go take a nap! :)

P.S. Some of you new mamas out there may have had the joy of adopting a baby and while some of the physical changes may not apply in your case, I’m sure a lot of the things I mentioned will. I want you to know that I think you are just as special as any mom out there and I am proud of you! That little tater tot you chose to love and raise may never know how blessed they are to have you in their life. You are amazing and I applaud you for making a difference in a child’s life!

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Life Lived in a Goldfish Bowl


If you are in the ministry as a full-time wife and mother, these words from my heart are especially for you. Hopefully, you are content,excited, and joyful about the amazing life you lead in the ministry. However, one area that is often very challenging is  managing and training your children publicly for all the world to see. People want to know the how and why you do what you do. They also will have an opinion about any direction you may take. That is where it is such a comfort to know that you are doing your best for an audience of one who is Jesus.

I personally lived in the goldfish bowl of ministry and then have watched our own three children swim there too.These are just a few that I have learned along the journey.

For those of you living in the goldfish bowl

1. You must love your children so deep and nurturing that they are totally secure and confident. Many times the busy pace of ministry and in serving others can supersede relationships. Our children can easily feel slighted or unattached. We must always keep our primary mission and that is always to nurture our children. To nurture simply means to nourish. The strong connection you have with your child is so important. Many times as you talk with others noticing your child can be so reassuring. It might be through a touch or a wink that your child knows that you are totally aware of them. It gives confidence and at the same time they are learning patience and flexibility.

2. Your children must know the boundaries in their behavior and that you will keep your word. This is a tough one because situations are always changing. It is difficult to give these boundaries to our children when people in the church have so many different  opinions about raising children. However, God is always faithful  in giving you wisdom for every difficult situation. One note to keep in mind is that your  children are your first priority always.

3. Keep the thought that your children are children and not small adults. No matter what pressure you may feel for them to be perfect, it is just not reasonable to have that expectation. Most of the time people are understanding, so do not worry. Then, there are those who do not. Just bless their hearts anyway.

For those of you who are observers of those in the fish bowl

1. Please, make a special effort to love ministry children. The smile you give, the word of encouragement, the piece of candy, a special small gift will endear that child to you forever. I have very sweet memories of special people who loved me as a pastor’s kid when I was a young child and especially as a fearful, unsteady teen. You have an opportunity to encourage and uplift these little people who often have many needs. You can make such a difference. The flip side to that is discouragement and sadly, there is far too much of that.

2. Your understanding goes such a long way. You may not know how many hours that “naughty” missionary child has sat in their car seat. The pastor’s child may have been on a very long visit with his mom or dad. I remember once my brother and I sat for eight hours in a hospital lobby. There was not a babysitter available and of course mom and dad checked on us every hour but, to this day I remember that very long day. I know that Jesus had a patient and understanding view of little ones. When the disciples were quite disturbed and agitated with the children, Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me”  This should especially encourage us to love and to care for all children and especially those who are known as ministry kids.

Along the way it may seem difficult bringing up your children so publicly, but His grace is always available and enough. I can truly say that it is worth every mile and the journey is sweet as we lean upon Him. So notice those little ones and teenage ones that are among you and encourage them in the same way that you want your children to be encouraged and helped.



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