What If You’ve Tried and Tried and Tried? {Encouragement for When You’re Ready to Give Up}

What If You've Tried and Tried and Tried {Encouragement for When You're Ready to Give Up}

I like to think that I am pretty easy-going when it comes to my parenting style.

In general, I don’t stress out over spilled milk, smashed cheerios or broken mirrors. I don’t mind uncontrollable giggles, nonstop chit-chatter, or even a rumbustious game of tag. The only time I am known to lose my patience with normal child-like behaviors is when I need a nap.

When I’ve been sleep-deprived, I am slow, impatient and dare I say . . . mean. I am a firm believer that children behave better and are generally happier when they are well-rested and, well, so do I!

That’s right folks – My name is Wynter Pitts and I am a napper!

When my kiddos were very young our days would be strategically planned around naptime, and bedtime would be deliberate and swiftly executed. We enjoyed our days together and played hard, but we had definitive boundaries and a system of shut-eye!

Then something happened.

Enter my 3rd and 4th daughters –twins.

We welcomed these beautiful girls into our world at once, but apparently they missed the memo. My new angels would . . . not . . . sleep!

It was not pretty.

Desperate for Help

I called for help.

Yes, I did. In my desperation, I reached out to a “baby sleep expert.”

She requested our current sleep schedule and then provided me a revised plan that was guaranteed to help us regain normalcy, well-rested children, and peace-filled days.

The new routine required me to make some adjustments to our already strategic sleeping schedule.  She prescribed intentionality and exactness to ensure the success of the program.  This required waking my sleeping children (wake up at precise times in order to ensure they would be ready to rest again when it was time).

Do you see the dilemma?

As I mentioned previously, sleep is a big deal and I didn’t particularly like to wake sleeping children. Especially a set of twins that were already not sleeping! Several conversations with the “baby sleep expert” gave me courage to begin the program in hopes that scheduling down to the minute would result in two sleeping babies, 2 happy big sisters, and an overjoyed mommy!

Reluctantly, I tried.

And tried.

And tried.

For a few weeks that seemed like an eternity, I would lay my girls down for a certain amount of time and keep them awake for the designated time. The intention was to train them to sleep at night with adequate nap times during the day.

I needed this to work and, frankly, it wasn’t.

I was definitely doing more waking up than they were sleeping, and I was miserable.  My efforts were not paying off and I was exhausted.

In a final attempt, I reached out to my “expert” and shared our trials with her.  I informed her that I was just about at the end of my journey with this experiment. I thanked her for her efforts and time but just before we finished our conversation, she said a few words that would be locked into my memory.

“Keep following the schedule as if it is working, because it will work.”

I am not sure why these words hit me so hard, but they did. I began our conversation with the intention of giving up, but I ended the conversation with a brand new drive, determination, and perspective.

What If You've Tried and Tried and Tried? {Encouragement for When You're Ready to Give Up}

When You’re Just About Ready to Give Up

A few more days went by with me putting down wide-awake babies and waking up barely sleeping babies.

I was working –  hard I may add – as if the plan were working . . . until one day, finally, it did!

One morning I woke up rested from a full night’s sleep and so did they.

Have you ever poured all of your blood, sweat and tears into something day after day with no result in sight? Maybe you are exhausted and just about ready to give up.

Well, I want to encourage you today with the same words that encouraged me . . . .

Keep  ______________ as if it is working, because it will work.

Fill in your blank.  Is it . . .  

Trusting God?

Being faithful in marriage?

Disciplining your children in love?

Friends, I encourage you to keep going as if it’s working. God promises that one day it will. 

~ Wynter Pitts, For Girls Like You

*What is something that you could use encouragement in right now? Anything we can pray about for you? 

Wynter Pitts is the author of the newly-released, Wynter PittsFor Girls Like You: A Devotional for Tweens. She is also the founder of For Girls Like You, a ministry to girls that includes a print magazine. She has a drive to introduce young girls to Christian values so they can walk passionately and boldly. A native of Baltimore, Wynter resides in Dallas, Texas, with her husband, Jonathan, and their four daughters.

You can find Wynter on her blog and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

********

For Girls Like You: A Devotional for Tweens

For Girls Like You DevotionalTween girls have access to an unbelievable amount of media and information with just a simple click of the remote or mouse. Every outlet they turn to attempts to subtly influence their worldview…and what they believe about themselves directly affects how they live.

Wynter Pitts, founder of For Girls Like You magazine, gives girls a new devotional showing them a correct definition of themselves, opening their eyes to God’s truth and the difference it makes in their lives. Each daily devotion includes a prayer to help girls apply the lesson. ~ from the Publisher

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

For Girls Like You!  is available for purchase HERE:

For Girls Like You: A Devotional for Tweens 

Bringing Up Boys: An Encouraging and Helpful Resource for Raising Sons

Bringing Up Boys - An Encouraging and Helpful Resource for Raising Sons

Okay, I’ll just come right out with it.

I LOVE raising boys! 

I never would have guessed when I started this motherhood journey that having sons would be so much fun.

Sure, they’re noisy (super-noisy!) and messy and energetic, but boys are awesome too.

And you know something? Now that our oldest “boy” is no longer a boy – but a young man of 21 years – I’m more convinced than ever that it is more than worth it.

The last time he was home for Christmas and he put his strong arms around my shoulder and told me he missed my hugs  . . . . well, there’s nothing quite like it.

Maybe you’re a mom who is in the “thick” of raising a son and could use some encouragement? Some ideas on how to make the most of it? How to reach his heart?

Bringing Up Boys - An Encouraging and Helpful Resource for Raising Sons

Encouraging and Helpful Articles on Raising Sons

24 Ways to Prepare Your Young Man to Become A Gentleman
Boys Are Awesome and The Best Way to Love Them
9 Things I’d Say My Mom Got Right
What’s the Best Way for A Mom to Show Love to Her Son?
21 Questions Your Son Really Needs You to Ask Him
Instilling Vision in Our Sons
12 Lessons I Want Our Son to Learn Before He Turns 12
Raising Our Sons to Seek After God
7 Steps to Raising A Courageous Young Son

So now we’ve got one son who is off and well on his way, but then there are these three little guys . . . .  noisy, messy, and energetic!

And awesome. 

Bringing Up Boys - A Helpful and Encouraging Resource for Raising Sons

I love raising boys, don’t you?

In His grace,

Signature small

 

P.S. Here’s another resource if you’ve got girls: Growing Up Girls: An Encouraging and Helpful Resource for Raising Daughters

100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson

 (This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Raising Heavenly Minded, Down to Earth Kids (small)*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get 2 FREE eBooks, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage and Raising Heavenly-Minded, Down-to-Earth Kids).

3 Things to Do If You’re Ready for a Real Change

3 Things to Do If You're Ready for a Real Change

Mom? How long before you start to look better?

This question was asked in the middle of a workout. Moving in stride with the Zumba dancers on the television screen, my focus was on keeping my core pulled in while simultaneously breathing properly. Nearly breathless, I had just enough left to gasp. Though she’d asked it sincerely and innocently, this question had the potential to cut. Deeply. The implication was that I did not look all that great.

Truth be told: she was right. I already knew this for myself.

Pregnancies had taken creative license with my physique, pulling, stretching and sagging places that I didn’t even realize existed. While my babies are a miraculous blessing, and I did not enjoy the seemingly permanent changes I now faced as a result of pregnancy. My role, in neglecting physical activity and indulging in too many non-nutritional foods more than on special occasions, did not help either.

I was ready for change.

3 Things to Do If You’re Ready for a Real Change

First, I prayed.

Romans 12:2 (NLT) says “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Emphasis mine.) My frustration with my physical appearance was distracting from my purpose. I couldn’t serve God effectively if I couldn’t serve Him wholly.

I asked God to help me reset my thinking. Burdens in our lives can distract us from God’s best for us. These could be finances, career, romantic relationship, friendship and more. We need God’s help to shift the focus from ourselves to what He can do for us, when we ask.

Secondly, I set realistic goals.

I wanted more energy to care for my family. Exercise and better eating habits needed to be consistent. The idea of one day gracing a magazine cover with my un-photoshopped physique did not interest me. I wanted to enjoy shopping trips again, free to try on all sorts of clothes, without presuming ahead of time that they would not look good on me.

Could I adjust my schedule to allow time for exercise? Yes. Could I plan well-balanced meals and leave certain food items on the grocery store shelves? Yes.

Finally, I had to start.

Forget waiting until this occasion or that holiday had passed, or even until the next calendar Monday. I needed to dive right in and work around whatever came in my path.

I didn’t need God to send me additional signs of whether or not this was right. He’d already been talking to me about this for some time. It was my turn to be obedient to His leading. There are moments when God has been speaking to our hearts about something for a period of time. We know what we should do, yet we stubbornly cling to our way while pleading for additional signs. Obedience spares us from unnecessary stress.

When my daughter asked me ‘how long before I start to look better?’, it didn’t bother me. I had acknowledged it and had begun to prayerfully tackle this issue before her question.

My desire wasn’t just to look better but to live better. I am trusting God with this part of my life, for His glory.

~ Sabrina

*What are some changes you’ve been wanting in your own life? What encourages you to make that change?

Sabrina Jacques-RoweSabrina is a stay-at-home wife and homeschooling mom of 4. As she grew up, she believed that there was nothing worth telling about her dull life. However, God has used various circumstances and people to show her glimpses of His amazing goodness as He pens her story. Amidst all of this, Sabrina has learned that how she chooses to live is what adds flair and makes her story worth telling. Her lifelong passion is to share encouragement through writing. Despite the hectic pace of her life, Sabrina always makes time for music, reading and a large cup of tea.

I hope you’ll visit Sabrina on her blog, Sabrina J~R, as well as on Facebook and Twitter!

100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson

 (This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Raising Heavenly Minded, Down to Earth Kids (small)*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get 2 FREE eBooks, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage and Raising Heavenly-Minded, Down-to-Earth Kids).

Homemaking When You’re in Survival Mode

Homemaking When You're In Survival Mode

Whether it’s a life change such as moving or a new baby, illness, or a busy season with a job, there are times when all you can do is just survive. Forget serving balanced meals; you’re happy that you even remembered to call the pizza delivery man.

How do you keep your home straight when you can’t even seem to find time to keep your head on straight?

These are some of the things I’ve learned about homemaking when I have to face those seasons in my own life:

1. Be willing to accept help.

This is hard for me, and I’m sure it’s hard for most people. It’s embarrassing to let someone see your messy house, let alone allow them to clean it for you. You feel badly letting someone else trouble themselves to cook your supper or watch your kids for you. But if people want to help – let them! They want to be a blessing, and you’ll be glad when you allow them that opportunity.

2. Lower your expectations.

Don’t get upset if you’re not serving your usual home cooked meals for supper.  Let everyone eat sandwiches, be happy they have something in their belly, and leave it at that.   You may be running clothes through the washer and dryer and never getting them folded.  If you have to live out of the laundry basket for a while, don’t sweat it.  Just be glad everyone has something to wear.

Your house will not be spotless.  Accept that fact, do what you can, and don’t worry about the rest.

3. Simplify.

Make everything as easy as possible for yourself. Remove everything from your schedule that is not absolutely essential. Use paper plates at meals. If you’re in the bed and you have small children, try to keep everyone confined to the same room. This will save the house from getting torn apart by curious little hands. Occupy the kids with videos or activities they can do themselves (coloring books, puzzles, etc.)

4. Use the timer.

Whether you’re suffering from illness or are just extremely busy, most people can still carve out one 15 minute cleaning session each day. Set the timer for 15 minutes and straighten the house as quickly as you can, starting with whatever area is bothering you the most. If you absolutely can’t do 15 minutes, try to do just 5. You’ll still be surprised how much can get done!

5. Brighten your mood.

When you’re not feeling well, the house is falling apart, and you feel like a lousy wife and mother because you can’t keep up with everything, it is easy to start feeling depressed. Make it a priority to spend time with the Lord each day because the joy of the Lord is your strength. (Here are some ways you can find time for God when you can hardly find time to breathe.)

Find other ways to cheer up the atmosphere of your home. Raise the window shades and let in some sunlight. Clean one room thoroughly, shut yourself in away from the rest of the mess, and enjoy the view! Turn on some uplifting music. Count your blessings and focus on the positive.

~ MaryEllen Bream, ImperfectHomemaker

*Are you in a season of surviving?  What can you do to make things as peaceful as possible in spite of your difficult circumstances?

100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson

 (This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Raising Heavenly Minded, Down to Earth Kids (small)*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get 2 FREE eBooks, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage and Raising Heavenly-Minded, Down-to-Earth Kids).

FILLED: 3 Reasons to Embrace Failure

Filled: 3 Reasons to Embrace Failure

I knew it was a privilege to mother these kids, but there I was, snapping, lecturing, even belittling.

I was called to write, but my words felt wooden, ordinary, so much less than “that other writer’s.”

I offered truth spoken in love, but feared I’d destroyed a friendship.

To top it all off, I lost my child’s most important legal document.

Self-demeaning words flooded my mind.

Failure. Wannabe. Inept. Idiot.

So goes the battle.

Will I let the enemy debilitate me through my failures? Or will I let God refine me through them?

While wallowing in self-pity frequently holds morbid appeal, today I choose to claim these failures for good.

Here’s why.

1)   They force me to recognize my inadequacies.

It’s clear to me (again) that I need Jesus. Desperately. If there weren’t already several hymns and choruses written about needing Jesus every hour, I’d compose one now. And another one tomorrow.

The apostle Paul gloried in his weakness and boasted in Christ’s strength. Like him, I’m a vessel of clay.

The type that breaks.

The kind so full of holes that it reveals completely what’s on the inside.

The only way I can be used is to be filled with Jesus.

2)   Failures show me where I can grow.

Though I may be tempted to wallow or despair, I could also step back and take a realistic look at my shortcomings.

Are there areas I can improve in? Most definitely.

  • I can learn to parent proactively instead of reactively.
  • I can develop the skills I currently covet.
  • I can help friends at God’s leading, but also rest in Him when results aren’t ideal.
  • I can organize more effectively to avoid losing what’s important.

This is the stuff of life. Why would I not seize the opportunity to grow into the “me” that Jesus is developing?

3)   My failures point out the adequacy I have through Christ.

God always equips those He calls. If He’s given me children, He’ll supply the grace and wisdom I need to parent them. If He’s called me to a particular vocation, He’ll give me strength to hone my craft. He’ll accomplish things I can’t see when I’m obedient. He’ll help me bring order to chaos.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

And my flops, my weaknesses, and my down-and-out failures serve to remind me that anything good is entirely of Him.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves. (2 Corinthians 4:7)

I don’t like failure any more than you do. And by God’s grace, I’m not going to live in its shadow. But while I feel its sting, I’ll embrace God’s purposes and learn the lessons He has for me.

*What are you learning from your inadequacies today? How can I pray for you? May our Savior fill you with hope and strength!

Blessings,

Jennifer Ebenhack

100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson

 (This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Raising Heavenly Minded, Down to Earth Kids (small)*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get 2 FREE eBooks, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage and Raising Heavenly-Minded, Down-to-Earth Kids).

We All Have A Sweet Spot: Will You Dare to Take the Plunge? {& Giveaway}

We All Have a Sweet Spot - Will You Dare to Take the Plunge?

My friend Alysha owns and operates a successful salon and boutique in downtown Bellingham, Washington. It is a darling little shop, sleek and stylish and full of sparkle. It is appropriately named Bliss, and simply walking through the door makes you feel a little more glamorous, a little prettier, just a little more special. Her chic display racks are filled with carefully clothing, each piece individually selected by her expert eye, and she has a way of making everyone who walks through her door feel absolutely beautiful and one-of-a-kind.

She is not just good at what she does, she is great.

Alysha and I have been best friends since the sixth grade and as such, I have had a front-row seat to all the times she was underestimated by the people around us. An “average” student, she didn’t play sports, wasn’t involved in clubs, was never voted into student council. She never really stood out or commanded attention. To many people she was simply ordinary. Nothing special. Forgettable.

But those people didn’t see her quiet drive and determination. They didn’t see how she worked her way through high school, saving enough money to pay for community college and beauty school. They didn’t see how the personal tragedies in her life—first losing her dad as a child and then her brother in her early twenties—only inspired her to work harder because she understood that life is short and precious. They didn’t see how she consistently pushed herself to be better, learning everything she could not just about doing hair, but about fashion and style and running a successful business. They didn’t see how even when things went wrong, she kept doing what she loved.

Although we now live more than three thousand miles apart, Alysha still inspires me every day. She never let being called “average” stand in her way. Instead, she followed her passion, discovered her sweet spot, and never looked back.

How many of us can say we’ve been that brave?

We All Have a Sweet Spot

Our sweet spot is that place where our greatest passions and our talents or abilities intersect. It is that special place where we are able to do whatever it is that we feel most called to do, that thing we love, that thing we are great at, that thing that makes life worth living. Just like Alysha did, living in the sweet spot means having the courage to follow our dreams, take risks, and work harder than we ever thought possible in order accomplish our goals.

Your gift might be leadership or wisdom or discernment or patience. It could be kindness or administration or communication or diligence. It might be generosity or healing or knowledge or empathy. Perhaps it is teaching or organization or creativity or music. Maybe it is even just doing or serving or being able to step up when needed. Some of us excel in forging a path for others, leading the way and administering change, while others are able to effectively serve in the background, quietly creating or organizing or following through. And while some gifts may be flashier than others, or seem preferable or more important, they are all essential. Your sweet spot is yours alone.

The truth is that all gifts come from God, in order to serve and glorify Him: “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).

Finding your own sweet spot often means a messy process of finding and then learning to embrace the God-given talents and aptitudes you already have, rather than the ones you only wish you had. It means taking the time to discover what you are truly good at and enjoy, then figuring out how to merge that talent and those abilities with the ideas and dreams and pursuits you are most passionate about. And sometimes finding your sweet spot even means taking a wrong turn­—and even failing along the way.

But despite the messiness of it all, my hope for you is to become fearless and to dare to take the plunge, even when it means risking failure. Remember those words of Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Don’t let the possibility of falling short deter you from trying.  You will make mistakes. You will screw up along the way. There may even be times when you have to admit defeat. Keep going. Use those lessons as opportunities to discover what doesn’t work, and always persevere.

Because your sweet spot is there, waiting for you, even if you haven’t quite found it yet, and in the end, it is exactly where you need to be.

Ruth SoukupRuth Soukup believes with all her heart that a life well lived is not so much about what we have, but who we are.  Her mission is to empower and inspire women everywhere to seek—and find—the Good Life.  Through her popular blog, LivingWellSpendingLess.com she encourages her readers to follow their dreams and reach their goals, sharing easy-to-implement tips and strategies for saving time and money while focusing on the things that matter most.  She is also the New York Times bestselling author of Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life, and Her next book, Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind & Soul will be released in Spring 2016.  She lives in Florida with her husband and two daughters.

 

Living Well Spending Less

3 Book Giveaway

I appreciated the honesty with which Ruth Soukup tells her own personal story and the courage that it takes to share her own struggles and triumphs, so that others can be encouraged to overcome as well. I find the author’s writing style highly readable and, personally, greatly appreciate her straight-forward approach.

This is not one of those typical “help yourself” kind of books, if that’s what you’re looking for, but rather a book that inspires you to go deeper and live with real meaning—the Good Life that is found in Jesus Christ.

With chapter titles such as “Contentment Is A Choice” (isn’t that incredibly freeing??) and “Less Stuff Equals More Joy,” Living Well Spending Less is a terrific resource of wise advice and encouraging truths about truly living well. ~ Lisa Jacobson,  Book Review

Ruth Soukup is the the author of the newly released and New York Times Best-Seller, Living Well, Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life. You can find out more and purchase Ruth’s book HERE:

Living Well, Spending Less by Ruth Soukup

And now I’m so thrilled to be able to offer 3 (yes, three!) copies of Ruth Soukup’s new book: Living Well, Spending Less. Enter by following the directions below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway