Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. -C.S. Lewis
Last year I started speaking and writing about being brave. I can’t tell you how many women have come up to me and said, “I don’t feel brave.” And if that’s you, I want you to know you’re in good company. If I waited to feel brave before I did anything, can I just tell you, I wouldn’t do much! Brave isn’t a feeling, its just something you do.
I think of my beautiful sister in law who found out a year and a half ago that her husband had cancer- and she’s had to be brave ever since. It wasn’t anything she felt, it was just something she did and continues to do every day. Every time she had to leave her 2 year old for a week at a time, everyday when she’s had to dispense multiple pills and medicines and take her husband to doctor appointment after doctor appointment and therapy and Houston, all the while trying to be a mommy to a 2 year old (now 3 year old). That ladies is Brave.
Before I ever even knew about the Mops theme last year, the Lord began speaking to me on this topic of being brave, starting in Jan. 2014. He began birthing the theme brave into my own heart. The Lord started to change my view on what brave really is. I use to think brave was hiking across the country, mountain climbing, running a marathon, or perhaps fighting world hunger. All of these people in the magazines and on the news looked so brave (and they are). But as I prayed about this new season and the theme He was putting on my heart, I realized I was running into brave people everyday. And if they wore capes, they were invisible. And if they jumped out of tall mountains, they were mountains of laundry. And if they traveled, it was to the grocery store with toddlers. And if they were earning money to feed the hungry children, it was by clipping coupons to feed their hungry children.
I have some friends that are single moms, and let me just tell you- they don’t feel brave, they just know they have to be brave for their kids.
What does it look like for you, as moms of preschoolers to be brave in your everyday lives? Here are 6 characteristics of a brave mom-
1) Brave moms embrace their season. I used to hear all the time, “Enjoy them, this season of them being little only lasts a short time” and I remember thinking, “Then why does it feel so long?!” But now I look back and think about all the times I said, “I can’t wait until…they talk… they walk… they stop whining…” You get the picture. I had so many expectations and worried when things didn’t look like I thought they should look. So I say to you today, embrace your season- the messy, the crazy, the exhausting, and the tender. Because it’s all part of the plan!
2) Brave moms don’t compare. I am so tired of all the comparing that goes on. I look back on the years and realize I have wasted too much of my life comparing what I am doing compared to what someone else is doing. See, the Lord has called us to run our own race and run it well. But I fear we’ve gotten so caught up in what others are doing, we forget who we are and what’s best for our family. And we are critical of other women when they don’t do things like we do. “Oh, you give them formula… oh…” says the die hard breast feeder. “Oh, your child is in public school…. oh…” says the homeschool mamma. Seriously, I could go on all day here. The comparison game is never ending- Spanking vs non-spankers, working moms vs stay at home moms, Homeschool moms vs public school moms vs private school moms. All organic gluten free vegan mom vs… well, the rest of us. I wonder what it would do in our relationships and with our family members if we asked the Lord to help us in this area? To show us areas where we’re comparing ourselves and the way we raise our kids to what everyone else is doing and then ask the Lord to help us to stop comparing. God has a specific way He wants you to raise your kids that may be different from other families- and that’s okay. We gather wisdom, seek advice, read books, pray- and then lead and guide our family with what we feel is best. But just remember- don’t criticize other mamas. We’re all in this together.
3) Brave moms realize their most important ministry is their family. When all of my kids were littles, at times I felt like the ‘adult’ world was passing me by and my brain was turning into mush. Friends were furthering their education, climbing the ladder at work, and doing things that looked so important. All the while my days all ran together, getting dressed up was a nice top with yoga pants, and fancy dinners were at Chick-fil-A. At times I felt like all those things I had dreamed about or wanted to work on were just not going to happen. As I look back I realize I was doing the greatest ministry ever known to woman- motherhood. I was home- nurturing, encouraging, training, teaching, disciplining, and refereeing…lol. The day in-day out stuff, the movie nights and the game nights, and the zoo days- that’s where it’s all at. These little things are the big things. When I look back I’m so thankful I had that time with them. And guess what? They are older now and still need me but in a different way, and now I can invest more time into some of those dreams. I think I thought I was going to be so old with no energy by the time we got here. So silly. Ladies, we create the temperature in our homes. We keep things together. Don’t resent your husband if they’re not organized enough or maybe they don’t do enough. I wasted so much time focused on what my husband didn’t do, that I couldn’t see all of the wonderful things he can do! We’ve been given the gift of doing these things around our home, staying on top of our activities, finding things. And our husbands need us to encourage them. Sometimes, if they feel like they can never do anything right, they stop trying. Don’t resent or despise your most important ministry, your family.
4) Brave moms get their strength from Him. Let’s face it, in this world you will have trouble. True story. And in our days, we have more than our share of meltdowns, breakdowns, and tantrums. And then there’s the kids… lol. As a mom, everyday has unexpected twists and turns. It can get so exhausting, feeling like you’re carrying the weight of the world. Brave moms find time, even if it’s only 3 minutes. While you’re changing that first early morning diaper, “Lord bless this day, I surrender to You. Give me strength and patience today.” Or perhaps when you are going pee, have some 4×6 index cards with your favorite scriptures on them right by the toilet. Gods Word is powerful and even just a few scriptures in the morning can give you strength and peace. Some great ones- 1 Chron. 16:11, Is. 41:10, Phil. 4:13, Ps. 18:32-34, Ex. 15:2, Duet. 31:6, Ps. 23:4. We need to pray for patience, peace and joy. Brave moms know we can’t do this thing on our own and in our own strength.
5) Brave moms say no. Brave moms say no so that we can say our best yes! Have you read Lysa TerKeurst’s book ‘The Best Yes‘? This book goes into more detail on this topic, but here are a few of my favorite quotes from her book. “A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an overwhelmed soul.” She also says, “I know I’m caught in the rip current of people pleasing when I dread saying yes but I feel powerless to say no.” And finally, she says, “Saying yes all the time won’t make me wonder woman, it will make me a worn out woman.” Every single time you say yes to someone else, you’re saying no to your family. So make sure that your yeses are your best yeses! See, I might be good at a lot of things, but I can’t be doing everything. If I did everything I could do, I would be directing kids choir, working in kids church, volunteering in the nursery, speaking, writing, acting…. Do you see what I mean? There is a season for everything and we have to pray about every potential opportunity, because it will be a commitment. We need to pray for wisdom. Right now I have to do what I feel like Gods calling me to do. Don’t get me wrong- we need volunteers- in our churches, in our kids schools, at Mops. But if you’ve been doing it for years and you’re feeling burnt out and you stress out every time you have to get ready for that thing, and you stress your family out because of it, but you feel guilty asking to step down or for a break, well, maybe it’s time to take a break. We can’t do everything. We can all do our part, but we should never feel guilty for using the no word. We are the keepers of our family’s schedules and we must protect that time. They need us to. We went through a season about 2 years ago where we basically laid everything in our lives down. I began homeschooling and my husband stepped down from being the Children’s Pastor at our church. There were no school activities, no fundraisers, no sports, and no church requirements. It was quiet and weird. At first I wanted to immediately fill our schedule back up with things to do. We had been serving in Children’s Ministry for 15 years and for the first time in our marriage we had no ministry responsibilities. Like I said, it was just weird. And over the years, as we have slowly added back things into our lives, I’ve had many opportunity to say yes, but I make sure that they’re things that fall into line with what I feel like we’re supposed to be doing. And with each new opportunity I pray and I count the cost. And I’m okay with saying, “Thank you for thinking of me but I won’t be able to at this time.”
6) Brave moms trust that God will get them through. There are so many things out there that could really stress a mamma out. Amen?! Ebola, Isis, our kid’s schools, wars, diseases. And we all have our own mommy fears- Will my kid make friends, will my kids go to a good school, what if my kid gets bullied, what if my kid ever walked away from following God, what if my kid is the bully? You get the picture here. With all of our fears and all the depressing news out there, it’s enough to make you want to lock your kids in doors and throw out the TV! But brave moms look up. Brave moms realize that no matter what we might go through that God is in control and that God has the final say. Brave moms know that God loves our kids even more than we do. Let me just encourage you today- He sees everything. When our heart breaks, His heart breaks. He hears our prayers and I believe that He’s working everything out for the good for those who love him. Brave moms trust that even on our worst day with Him, it’s better than our best day without Him.
I encourage each of you to your own best brave. Whatever that looks like for you in this next season. Buy a Brave journal– Journal it; document it; and let God guide and direct you to being your best brave mommy. Amen!