When You Need a Bit of Warmth to Get Through the Winter {Mom Heart Conferences in 2014 are Just the Ticket!}

bg-collageby Kristen Kill

The pudgy fingers of my toddler clings to my shoulder as I to type this, a bit slower than my usual speed as I listen for the cues in her breath that tell me she is still sound asleep. Her other arm is stretched across her brother. Yes, there are two of them that have taken over tonight, friends, finally sleeping soundly after one of those drag out bedtimes. Its not every night that my children collapse in my bed, but stretching back into a school routine has us feeling rather harried and just plain worn out. I’m weary and find myself wondering if you might be just a bit weary today too?

Ruth and Misty

The lists don’t ever end and as Autumn blazes on, we are already planning for Thanksgiving and then Christmas and up the hill for one final push to get us back on routine once again. The beautiful part about the cold of winter though? Tea and knitting and movie nights with popcorn….and Mom Heart Conferences. Because mamas,  bit of refreshment is in order for our own hearts and souls. At a time when several of us often feel the cold seems the bear the greatest chill and we aren’t sure we are cut out for this life you are carving and crafting at home, there is a place where you can come to be reminded of beauty and friendship. A retreat for your soul to be warmed and to exhale and recommit your heart to being a bearer of beauty and light and Jesus to our families. Maybe When you need a bit of warmth to get through the winter , you’ll think about joining us?

Our band who represent momheart and itakejoy,  love big and hug long and share openly. We’d love to get to know you; because maybe even more important than the rest (I’m talking sleeping through the actual night and eating a full meal and nibbling on chocolates kind of rest), is the linking of arms and gathering of hearts that want to live this life together.

This year, our conferences have some of the most encouraging speakers ever, a beautiful book table that is full of all the Clarkson Family favorites and opportunities to nurture your heart along side kindreds.

And friends? Right now, we are Giving AWAY a ticket! If you register before midnight on October 31st, you’ll automatically be entered to win a drawing on November 4th. If you win, your ticket price will be fully refunded- how cool is that?! Check out the details for the conferences below and visit www.MomHeartConference.com to register.

Mom Heart Conference 2014

Denver, Colorado- January 24-25, Denver Marriott South

Irvine, California- February 7-8, Irvine Marriott

Irving/DFW, Texas- February 21-22, Dallas Marriott Las Colinas

Click on the image below to see all the details about this year’s conference locations and speakers!

and this poster is printable or downloadable to share with your support group or blog!

MHC2014-PDF-PosterHOPE YOU CAN COME! WE WOULD BE SO PRIVILEGED TO HOST YOU, PRAY WITH YOU AND HAVE YOU IN OUR MIDST!

Would you help us please, and share with your friends on facebook, twitter and in your support groups? Thanks so very much! And please leave a comment and let us know if you have been to a momheart conference and how you enjoyed it!

 

When Life is Too Overwhelming to Ask for Help

Pam

Thankfully there are only a few times in life when things become so overwhelming, it seems impossible to ask for help. I know I need support but crises are coming like rapid fiery darts. As my being shifts from one difficulty to another, the thought rests in the back of my head to reach out for help. Yet, dodging the darts seems to occupy every second.

I think about sending out a prayer request email but quickly decide that the circumstances of my life presently sound like a bad soap opera. Realizing it would take forever to draft the email, I resolve to “lift my eyes unto the hills….where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord the maker of heaven and earth”.  I mouth the prayer believing it in my head while counting on it to make it’s way down to my heart.

My conversation with my Heavenly Father goes something like this, “Lord, I believe you are sovereign. You are aware of my problems. You have even orchestrated them. …(Well, I probably wasn’t ready to admit that at first, even though I knew it to be true)…. Father, I need some help but can’t get it together enough to even ask. Lord, I think I need about five Aarons and Hurs to lift me up. Father, I don’t even know who they are right now. But I believe I need about five. Would you send them?”  Then I just proceeded to dodge the next dart. He is still patiently waiting on me to embrace the fiery darts and welcome the trial as James admonishes us to do as believers.

Remember when Moses was fighting the battle of the Amalekites (Exodus 17) and as long as Moses held up his arms, the Israelites were winning. But as soon as he dropped his arms, they began losing the battle? So Aaron and Hur each held up an arm of Moses in order for the Israelites to win. I knew I needed some women friends holding my arms up.

I could go into details about the nature of our family’s problems to try and help others know things can get really bad even when you follow Christ. But then the problem gets glorified.

Or I can expound on what God continues to do in spite of my problems. And He gets glorified rather than our problems.

My situation bottomed out on Friday. But on Saturday, at my son’s football game, an old friend approached the bleachers. She did not even have any children playing. She simply came to support a mutual friend’s child.I jumped up to say hi and give her a hug not realizing I would fall apart in her arms. She listened and encouraged me but did not stop there. The following week she showed up at the store with flowers and a card letting me know she had been praying for me. My friend Kelly, who I only see sporadically at surprise times, became an Aaron for me.

Later in the week my first night of community outreach was to begin. Because of circumstances, I was feeling quite disqualified. Yet, God placed me here as leader. I took a deep breath and glanced over the parking lot as women and children arrived. A new attendee named Kay popped out of her car. I was so excited to have her even though it was a surprise.

I could not help but laugh out loud when I actually realized she was my next answer to prayer for an Aaron or Hur. As my story unfolded for Kay, she realized it was divine intervention for her to be there. Kay is the mightiest prayer warrior I know. Because it was our first night of outreach we were able to spend the full time in prayer.

One after another, the Father brought me my five…each a tangible expression of God’s loving kindness and care for his children. They were not the usual ones I reach out to on a regular basis. I was paralyzed. But they were the ones God desired to use.

Once the five prayed me through the first week, I was able to reach out online to long distance prayer support from women who have practiced being intentional to cultivate a relationship even if long distance. We share a common love for God and a common desire to see Him high and lifted up in our homes.

Sisters, NO MATTER your walk in life, your problems or pain, we need a support system, a community of believers to walk through life with.

I believe suffering is inevitable. God uses it to conform us to the image of His son as we depend on Him. And He is so very faithful to be present in the darkest times of our lives. Do you sense Him near you, caring for you, sustaining you during your times of difficulties? Would you ask God to send you an Aaron and Hur? And, like me, even if you don’t know who they are, God does. Ask Him, look and wait for Him to send them.

The battle you are in is not yours friend. It is the Lords, the maker of Heaven and earth. May our Maker be glorified in and through each of our trials.

Arms Held Up,
Pam

***The 24 hours of the .99 on Amazon is now over, but as an almost full length book, I think you will enjoy it and be blessed at the normal price of $4.99! We were so happy that we were able to do a 24 hour deal for so many of you. Thanks for making the launch such a wonderful blessing to us, who work on the blog and books just for you! You were amazing!

tuesday

 

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost–It has made all the difference!


Recently, at the webinar, a mom asked, “How did you face your friends and family who didn’t understand your ideals?”

Taking a risk to do life differently, better, following God’s trail by faith, has changed the course of the Clarkson history–but, by taking the road less travelled, we have witnessed the miracles and provision of the hand of God in amazing ways.

This, one of my favorite poems, (and I made all the kids memorize it) reflects the faith, following ideals, road.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both,
And be one traveler , long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
But as for that, the passing there
had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted I would ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two rods diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

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Since the first year Clay and I were married, we tried each fall to go drive through the mountains to see the aspen when they changed to the golden and read and bronze. A mother is the god-ordained professor who is to open the soul and mind of her children to the truths reflected in God’s creation. God has provided ample evidence of His wisdom, power and beauty in each season.

Last weekend, Clay said that he thought we should take the time to go for one day to the mountains before we left to make time to see the beauty together. Though we were all busy, we are so very thankful for the way it filled our souls to marvel at His handy work and to reflect that each season has its own beauty and evidence of God’s intimate involvement.

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.” What a beautiful poem this is–and such a rich amount of wisdom to discuss and reflect with your children—choices have consequences, whatever decisions you make will determine much of the rest of your life–it is so important to let God’s word and truth direct your priorities and decisions. And I love the last line, “And I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Clay and I took the homeschooling road when no one thought we should. We moved our family into ministry situations with us all over the world when no one thought we should. We raised support when certain family members thought we shouldn’t. We left a good job and security and insurance and went 5 years without a salary to start Whole Heart Ministries when it seemed crazy. We committed ourselves to idealistic discipleship grace-based parenting when others thought we would ruin our children. Obviously we have not lived a perfect life and have made mistakes along the way. However, we made our decisions by faith, based on convictions we found in scripture. Our desire was to please God, to build foundations that could not be shaken. God has been so faithful to us each step of the way–we took the road less traveled by and that has made all the difference.

Today, I celebrated the 93rd birthday of my oldest, sister type friend’s mom’s birthday. We had a chocolate party for her (brownies, cake, cookies, candy bars and mousse–it was her favorites) She has lived through two World Wars, the depression, breast cancer, the deaths of her husband and two of her three children. Yet, she has lived to see God’s faithfulness.

This summer, fire devastated and destroyed 500 homes. Now we are in the midst of a crisis of flood over our whole state. This year, 3 precious ones have committed suicide that are dear to us. Several of my best friends have had cancer.  We could all be tempted to panic when life feels so uncertain. 

Yet, taking the risky roads less taken has taught me that God is trustworthy. He is in control, He will be faithful to us as we walk roads of faith. It is an important for us to teach our children to have the courage of their convictions to take the road less taken-the road of faith, the road of ideals. Life does not always turn out as we would expect it to, but God is always faithful. We all only have one life to live in which to live by faith in God, to trust in Him and rest in His peace when we are tempted to panic. We are given one life to live for His ideals and for His convictions. Then we will see Him face to face.

Let us be bold before His throne in this challenging time. Let us be of those who do not shrink back. Let us be of those whose hearts remain steadfast even in the midst of trials. God will be faithful to us. We will grow and be stretched and become less selfish and more mature and give our children a better model –if we stay faithful to his call upon our individual lives. He will call each of us to different ideals, but He will call us to step out in faith, in courage and in ministry. May His goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our lives and may we resist fear and live by faith until we see Him face to face. May God give each of you a special gift of His grace and peace in the midst of your trials. May He allow you to reflect on His beauty in creation as an example of His seasons and may each of you have a peaceful heart. Many blessings of His grace.

As Sarah recently wrote, “Hard realities–broken hearted facts are not ignored but faced with grace. This rises up with a lifestyle of hard work and community that, while never denying grief, yet seeks to move through life with a fragile but real hope.”

Indeed, God led us to take the road less traveled, and that has indeed made all the difference.

The Discipleship & Discipline Webinar

Over 1,000 moms joined us on the Discipleship & Discipline Webinar! If you weren’t able to attend the live course, now you can get it on-demand. If you would like to get access to the Webinar, simply click here. It was so much fun, and we are so excited to share this with you.
webinar

 

No Time to Waste On Stress

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“But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” -Luke 10:40-42

As I approach 60 years old in another month, I am more aware than ever that life flies by. The most important investment I have made in my life is to seek to love deeply. Loving my children and husband has required sacrificing my schedule and expectations in order to have time to listen, to be a friend, to share mutual joys and to cry together. Taking time to love well usually requires a simpler life that has the flexibility to cultivate “best friendships” with those are most dear.

Much of my life was lived at such a pace, however, that I felt like I was always in a hurry to get some place or to complete a task. These overcommitted times turned me into more a drill sergeant  than a loving companion. How easy it is to focus on all of our “to do’s” and to miss the magical moments of childhood and celebrating it together rather than gutting it out in frustration.

Statistics show that 88% of mothers feel severely stressed and overcome with anxiety due to poor time management and difficulty prioritizing. In a hectic world that is over-stimulated on our phones, computers, social media, and Starbucks addictions, are we losing sight of what is truly important in the midst of the balancing act? My mind ponders the fact that we were simply not designed to multitask to this extent. We often try so hard to juggle one million ideals, and once we drop one of them, we feel defeated.

As mothers and wives, it is absolutely crucial that we learn to breath, relax, and focus in on what should be prioritized. Life is short and ideals are constantly interrupted, so be sure to focus on the most important. The people in our lives should be the priority. Do the priority people in your life (your children, your husband, your friends) feel that you are often distracted by all the things you do? Do they comment on how much they appreciate your ability to give full attention to them or do they complain that you are not listening?

Are you so stressed about making your home squeaky clean that you don’t make time for game night or a stroll at sunset? Is your mind so preoccupied with getting back to the kitchen to clean all the dishes that you forget to actually enjoy dinner with your family? Did you fill your day with so many errands and “have-to’s” that you ran out of energy to extend a kind word, an affectionate kiss and warm greeting to your husband?

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Psalm 90:10,12 tells us:
“As for our days, they contain 70 years or if due to strength, 80, but soon it is gone and will fly away. So teach us to number our days that we might present to you a heart of wisdom.”

Worst of all, is the neglect of our Father. He is so ready to give peace, to guide us in wisdom through His gentle voice, but if we do not still our souls, we are likely to get into a snit as Martha did. We create our own snits by refusing to take time to be comforted in the presence of our living, loving Father.

We must make time to sit at His feet so we don’t get into a huff. If you are too busy, the consequences will be grumpiness, frustration, and missed opportunities. (What is causing you the most stress and depleting your life? What can you do about it?)

Being women of wisdom means setting realistic goals so that we don’t become drained. When we are constantly operating on a tank of gas that is almost empty, we have little in our hearts from which others may draw. It is so easy to listen to the voices of others and feel the guilt of performing up to other’s expectations, instead of committing to the limitations and strengths of our own puzzle of life.

Make a list today of what you can reasonably accomplish and cut out those drainers that are unnecessary. What do you need to cut out? What do you need to add to your life to give your children more of a sense of love, peace and affection? Getting our priorities in order enables us to be better mothers, wives, friends, and women of God.

Today, each of has a choice–will we take time to celebrate the joys that God has provided? the beauty that He wants us to explore? The sweetness of intimacy that comes from investing heart time with those we love.

Take time to experience His pleasure. Remember: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

The chores and responsibilities will always be there, but the time to invest in the ones we love, will soon be gone.

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Filling Your Soul With Love and Grace Divine

Claude Monet, Woman in the Garden

 

“I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3

I have received thousands of responses to my blogs on child discipline lately. I see how many sweet ones there are who truly want to do the best and be the best for their children. But before I do one more post on child discipline, I just felt I wanted to tell you how very precious you are and how much your own personal life matters.

I awakened this morning with you on my heart. I know there must be many precious moms out there who are reading these articles and are feeling inadequate or guilty or condemned–or just worn out!  I have been praying for you all morning.

Motherhood is very precious to the Lord. As a matter of fact, the more I mothered, the more I came to understand Him, His love, His sacrifice, His forgiveness, His patience. Motherhood is not an easy journey. I kept feeling that I needed to have more children so I could do it right at least once!

And yet motherhood is a long journey, a hard and challenging journey, that will require much endurance with grace, much forgiveness, much patience and just a whole lot of energy expended.

You are truly important to God in the midst of it all. He sees you and cares for your dreams and desires. And so I wanted to write a little post just for you.

When I had my first baby, I had never even changed a diaper. I did not know how to hold a baby. I was unprepared for the task. I also did not know how selfish and self-absorbed I was. And I have to admit that over the years, there were many times when I did not feel loving or feel like a good mother or even feel like I wanted to *be* a mother. I was always committed to my children and always committed to loving them, because I knew God wanted me to. But I did not always like them and sometimes that made me feel guilty.

I just put one foot in front of the other because I thought that is what God wanted me to do.

So if you feel that you are not a “natural” mother, or you enjoy doing things outside your home, or you have other ambitions, please do not condemn yourself. I felt all of those feelings and had to learn how to balance the different pulls on my life. But God has loved me and led me through it all.

I know that there are so many of you precious ones with deep scars. Perhaps you came from an angry family, where you were criticized or rejected. Or maybe you were ignored and you still wish someone would notice you and love you deep inside in those places that only you can feel.

Many of you made some bad choices morally that have deeply injured your own heart. Or you have a passive and indifferent or mean and abusive husband.

You are not defined by any of these things–not by what people have said to you, not by your flaws (we all have them), and not by your past failures or present difficulties. God loves you so very much. God is with you. God is your champion.

We read that when He looked out on the multitudes, He had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus sees our needs. He loves us. He cares for how each of you feel deep in your heart.

You are so very precious to God. He is on your side. He will be your warrior God in all the battles in your home. He will help you and defend you and pour out His unconditional love on you. He is the source of your strength and joy. Nothing can separate you from His love. Romans 8

There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

The only way we can truly make it in this life productively is to tend to the garden of our own souls. The only way you can be a loving mother or friend is to have your soul filled with the deep, unchanging, unconditional love of God.

I love the picture above. I picture my soul as a garden that must be tended and cultivated and watered. If my own soul is healthy, then all who draw from my soul, will receive true nurture and strength. However, I do not know of any great women who have not been very intentional about cultivating and building themselves into godly women. They invested purposefully to become who they are.

A wise woman builds her house, but it starts with a plan!

You may find criticism from the world. But in Christ, you will find love, deep, abiding, unconditional love and all that you need for your task. But you must choose to invest your time wisely.

So what are some ways to fill your own soul so that you may have strength and love to give?

1. Surround yourself with good and godly friends.

I once heard a speaker say that he will do anything to put himself in the company of people who make Him want to love God more, who make Him want to be a better person–who inspire Him. But that he would avoid all of those who spread poison or gossip or discouragement as much as possible.

I have a friend, Phyllis, who I know will always point me to God. Just being with her is like being in the presence of the Lord’s encouragement, because she walks with Him and points me to him. Gwen is such a friend, and Deb, Shelley, Lynn, Beth and Sarah and Joy, ……….I gather these friends over the years and invest in them because they invest in me.

Find those friends, challenge a friend to be a prayer partner, to study a book together, to meet with you on a regular basis.

2. Spend time every day with the Lord. Find books, resources, people who can help you with this. (Go though the Psalms and circle or underline every promise or character quality of God. Read one chapter of John or Matthew a day and write down one lesson you have learned. Read through Philippians and note all the ways Paul tells us to follow Jesus.)

3.  Clean out your soul on a regular basis–get rid of the rubbish that has kept you from experiencing God’s love. (If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us from our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.) Don’t hang on to bitterness or condemnation–it will poison you. I have a friend, Sarah Mae, who is dear to me as though she were a daughter. She has recently published an ebook called Core Lies, that she is offering for free. We must rid our hearts from lies that would keep us from experiencing the generous love of God.

4. Surround yourself with books, blogs, people who feed your mind on truth, who draw you to become a better self.  There are many, many women in my life who do that to me. But I wanted to point you to three of my favorites.

I love these women because they have chosen to have integrity in their lives when no one was looking. They have invested thousands of hours in the presence of God. They have chosen to love and serve Him, to always turn in the direction of faith. I know they are not perfect, but they hold fast to a Faithful God who carries them. They are also seasoned women who have chosen to faithfully love and serve their children, and husbands, even amidst challenging times. They have weathered life and from that weathering, have garnered stories of His faithfulness. Feed on their life-giving words. I do so love these women.

Brenda Nuland– a mother of two grown children, who cultivates life, beauty, goodness and faithfulness in her home.Brenda always encourages me, feeds my soul and gives me loyal friendship.

Elizabeth Foss–a sweet mother of 9 children, whose devotion to God, gentle mothering of her children, and great thoughts always challenge me. She is humble and loyal as a friend and has learned to persevere with grace.

Ann Voskamp-an artist with words and photography, who deeply cherishes her precious Lord and wants to sing his messages into the lives of those in her pathway. Her gentle, humble words are always filled with grace that she found from walking closely with Him.

5. Spend time in nature–his workshop. When I see the artistry of God, and rest in the glory of the canopy of His beauty, I find great peace. Creation was made for us. He designed the stars for us to understand His vastness–His strength and ability to be bigger than us, to show us His power. He designed color, flowers, mountains, waterfalls, snow, rain, to show us His design. When I invest time in His works of art, I am inspired to reflect His art and beauty in my home as a picture of His reality in an otherwise dark world. Creation nurtures my soul when I take time to observe it.

6. Restore, relax, recreate. Young moms need a break.(and old moms and moms of teens, and……..) They need sleep. Sometimes grumpiness or depression goes away with just a couple of good nights of sleep or time away with a friend. Moms need to have a friend who understands them and still loves them! They need to laugh and lighten up. Cultivate times of breaks in your life, times of just getting away. Don’t always be serious–it is exhausting.

Our bodies need a sabbath rest. I take my tea time every day with a candle, book or magazine. I collect videos and movies and series of stories that delight my soul. I surround myself with music everywhere–at home, in the car, at dinner, when I am in a plane. I love rhythms and movement. I make time for cherished friends. I make fun for myself with my children so that we can just laugh and play and store up humor–everyone needs a break. (Read my daughter, Sarah’s blog post from a couple of days ago–Christians need to learn how to lighten up and have fun.)

These precious ones are not just public figures to me, but in the privacy of friendship, offer such grace, humility, love and always make me want to love Him more.

This blog is way too long, but the point is, you are important. Your emotional, spiritual and physical health matters to God. If you cherish your soul and become a good steward of your needs, you will be stronger for your journey of life and more ready to meet its demands. But you are the one who must plan how to endure with grace and beauty. You must create a plan that best suits your puzzle of life. Grace and beauty and peace in the midst of it all.