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When She Realizes You’re Not the Sporty Mom, Hip Coffee Drinking Mom, or Crafty Mom

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It’s as if her 9-year-old eyes suddenly opened wide to the world of women, to the world of other mothers this week.

“Why don’t you dress sporty, like her?”

“Why don’t you like iced coffee, like her?”

“Are you a crafty mom? I want you to have a bead room like that. I bet if you were a crafty mom I’d want to do a project every day. I’d want to make a bracelet with beads every single day.”

I explained why I only dress sporty when I work out and not every day like she wishes I would.

I explained why I don’t like iced coffee, why I don’t like any kind of coffee at all.

I explained that I’m not much of a crafty mom, why I probably won’t ever have a bead room.

It’s all really a matter of fact. But my explanations seemed to fall short.

I wondered if I’d let my daughter down a little when I explained why I’m not any of those things.

That 9-year-old of mine – she wanted me to be more of a sporty mom, she wanted me to be more of a hip iced coffee drinking mom, she wanted to know if I’d ever identify myself as a crafty mom. And I told her no. On all three accounts.

I let myself go down that ugly, ugly road of lies for just a moment. You know the lies…maybe I’m not the kind of mom she wants, maybe I’m not the kind of mom she needs, maybe I’m not the kind of mom she secretly wishes she had. Ugh. Ugly lies. Ugly, ugly lies.

Perhaps my matter-of-fact 11 1/2-year-old son got it right when he responded bluntly to my daughter with this…

“She’s not a crafty mom, SHE HAS A BLOG!!”

Yep. He got it right, didn’t he?

I’m not a sporty mom, I’m not a hip iced coffee drinking mom, and I’m not a crafty mom. But I am a bloggy mom.

These conversations got me thinking about something I’ve thought of many times before. One of my greatest dreams as a mother is for my adult children to look up to me and think of me as beautiful, classy, wise, faithful, patient, loving, and kind. I want them to come to me for advice. I want them to know I’m an open book, here for them anytime. I want them to look at me and see what strength paired with humility looks like. I want them to see a servant heart in me, and I want them to think that’s so, so cool. I want my children to see me living out my dreams, living out my calling, and I want them to be empowered to do the same. And when it comes to my daughters, especially, I pray they’re honored and proud to call me mom.

So I quietly beg God, plea with God, ask Him to pour His grace and favor on me in regards to these matters of the heart. Help that 11-year-old heart, 9-year-old heart, and 2-year-old heart grow to see me for WHO I AM rather than who I’m not. And help me be the mom I want to be for my children, because it’s not always as easy as it seems.

Before we wrap up that conversation about me not being a crafty mom, I encourage her 9-year-old heart. “You know, when you’re a mom, in fact, maybe even when you’re just a little older, like in high school or something, you can be crafty if you want. That would be awesome. You can pick whatever craft you’d love to do and you can get really good at it. I think that would be great for you because I know you’re really creative and you like to do creative things.”

“Ya,” she says. “Ya.”

greensig

Gretchen Wendt O'Donnell - Oh, Amy- so many thoughts! My kids actually said to me once that they were glad I wasn’t a mom who was glued to my phone all the time! ( Since then I got a smart phone, though…!). They love that I blog! be you. They will understand one day!August 1, 2014 – 1:35 pm

Identity, Authenticity and a 20th High School Class Reunion

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My 20th high school class reunion is quickly approaching. The countdown is most definitely on.

There’s not much you can do to prepare for a class reunion, but I’ve prepared for the day as best as I can. I sent in my $45/couple fee, RSVP’d on the Facebook event page, and engaged classmates in conversation about who’s bringing a spouse to the reunion and who’s not. I bought an outfit I hope I’ll feel comfortable and beautiful in for the evening’s events, and we arranged a place to stay overnight.

So now I sit in wonder, waiting to see who will be there and who won’t, who I’ll connect with as an adult, and who I won’t. Questions of identity beg to be answered. Who was I then? And who am I now? Am I any different? Or am I really just the same? Will I be stuck in the box of who I was? Or will I be embraced for the person I am today? Will I be comfortable in my all grown-up adult skin, or will I tuck some of that away for the day? I’m guessing I’m not the only one who’s wondered and questioned as the big day approaches.

As I look at the picture of our graduating class of 1994, I can’t help but notice one thing. There are invisible lines dividing the class into circles of friends. Our class was small, most definitely. So we knew everyone and everyone was cordial to one another for the most part. But still, I know who was friends and who wasn’t, who hung together and who didn’t. For the most part, it’s all right there in that picture.

In high school, our identities were largely wrapped up in our friendships, social status, and all the things we did or didn’t do to keep ourselves busy when we weren’t in school.

In adulthood, our identities are much more rich. Our lives aren’t centered around whether we’re the cool kid or jock, the wallflower or fringe folk, the academic or party animal anymore. Our lives are, hopefully, grounded in the authenticity of who we’ve discovered ourselves to be over the course of 20 years living as full-fledged adults.

With that in mind, my hopes for this 20th high school reunion are high.

I’m hoping those invisible lines will be erased, division and discomfort eradicated. All that comparing, contrasting, and jockeying for position? Forget about it. A 20-year high school reunion is the perfect place to let down guards, crumble walls, heal hurts and erase all the bad memories that remain. My biggest wish is that we’ll remember the days of the past with fondness, embrace each other for who we are now, and discover what bonds us together today.

I’m excited to see the real you, whoever you are, now. The authentic you is the best you. So forget putting on face, and step confidently into who you are for the whole night long. We need you to be you.

As for me, I’ll do my best to hold up my end of the bargain. You’ll find me slowly sipping on a glass of wine, quietly connecting with you and you, whoever you are.

And if all goes well, we’ll have a ton of fun.

pinksig

Amy - Thanks Tara! Hope to see you there. :) July 31, 2014 – 12:11 pm

Tara N. - Love it!July 31, 2014 – 8:48 am

Where God Leads When We Listen: In Memory of Teresa Marie Hennen Moksnes

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I was in my car.

The music was loud, but slow, spiritual and soulful. Just the way I like it.

The sunset stayed right alongside me as I drove. It was gorgeous, breathtaking in fact.

I couldn’t help but think that God was gracing me with a taste of heaven in those moments.

All I wanted to do was pull over and photograph the sunset, forever etch this memory in pixels. But the time was never right. One car or another followed me the whole way.

And then, I passed a cemetery. What a lovely place to stop and view the sunset in peace, I thought. So I pulled over, drove in and parked.

I got out of my car, but stayed near to get my bearings. The sunset was my guide. For some reason, I felt compelled to determine where the sun was shining most clearly down on a grave site. I moved my body to the left, then again to the right. A clearing opened between some trees across the way. Light shone on a site right in front of me.

I moved forward and sat down next to the grave site, all the while intending to take a photograph of the sun peering through onto the site. That never did happen the way I imagined. It was much, much better than that.

I kneeled before the grave. I looked down.

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Teresa Marie Hennen Moksnes was the first thing I saw.

The next thing I noticed was her birth year, 1974. And her death year, 2009.

Then Loving Wife And Mother.

This woman was nearly my same age. And she was a mother. I was honored to have been led to this site.

I saw the bouquet of flowers and thought how lovely, someone’s been here to visit just recently.

I looked up at the sun.

Then looked back down at the site.

I sat quietly, pensively.

Then, as I sat reflecting, I looked again at the stone and saw the thing I hadn’t seen before.

July 24.

Today was her birthday.

1974.

Today would have been her 40th birthday.

And I immediately began crying. And praying.

365 days in a year, and I found myself sitting at the grave site of a woman who was born on July 24th and today was July 24th. Not only that, out of all the years I could’ve been led to that site, I found myself there in 2014, the year that would’ve marked her 40th birthday.

Only God himself could arrange a divine encounter like that. There was no way I could’ve ever known.

The Spirit had led me to this place, on this particular day, for a reason.

So I prayed for Teresa. And I prayed for her family even more. Tears streamed as I sat in disbelief that God performed this crazy, ever so gentle 40th birthday sunset miracle.

This was holy ground. For me, for Teresa, and for her family who had visited, likely today.

They visited. They left flowers. They love and miss Teresa dearly. Even to this day.

And I thought about God. What an amazing, loving and gentle God. How He presses on, how He continues to care for our loved ones, even when we’ve passed to our heavenly home. He cared enough to send little old me, a random woman passing on the way, to pray for Teresa and her family, to mark the special day that would’ve been her 40th birthday.

Teresa, I pray God gives you eyes to see that your family is being cared for, even when you’re gone.

And for you. I’m compelled to share this message. It was clear, so very clear as I stared down at Teresa’s grave site.

God wants to lead you. But he needs you to listen.

Where might God lead you if you simply listen? And obey?

He needs you, He’s calling you, He wants to reveal His sovereignty and lavish grace upon you.

Where oh where will He lead if you listen?

Today, he led me to Teresa.

Happy Birthday, Teresa.

May you rest forever in peace.

greensig

 

Eileen Jacobson Isackson Hagenbrock - WowJuly 25, 2014 – 5:37 am

Jennifer Johnson - How breathtakingly beautiful Amy. I’m stunned. Thank you for sharing this todayJuly 25, 2014 – 5:12 am

Tom Baunsgard - God lead the way for you to visit Teresa’s grave… not just a coincidence… July 25, 2014 – 4:47 am

How To Know You’re Done Having Kids

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To mamas known and mamas unknown. This post is for you.

I’ve wanted to write this for a while, for mamas undecided, for mamas who aren’t quite sure whether they’re done having kids or not.

So mamas? Let’s chat about this question that’s pressing on your heart…

How will I know when I’m done having kids?

But before we get started, I want to take time to acknowledge special groups of mamas out there because this post may or may not be for you.

For mamas who have grieved the loss of an infant or child, I hear your cries, I feel your pain, your longing to see, touch your baby just one more day. This post may or may not be for you.

For mamas who are experiencing infertility, who have tried for months, years to conceive? I pray you will be blessed with child. This post may not be for you.

For mamas who have been called to adopt, and are in the seemingly never-ending waiting process, bless your soul. You inspire me. This post may not be for you.

For mamas who are unable to bear children of your own, can’t afford adoption or infertility treatments, or are “too old” to be considered a candidate for such things, but long for a child to love? My heart goes out to you. I pray that God will work a miracle, I pray He’ll place children in your life through other means, and that those children will bring you great joy and fulfillment. This post may or may not be for you. 

For mamas who whole-heartedly embrace natural family planning, for those who hope to bear as many children as the Lord will provide until He carries you gently into menopause? You are amazing and an inspiration as well. This post may not be for you.

For mamas who became pregnant due to rape, incest, sexual abuse, prostitution or trafficking, and you’ve made the incredible decision to birth, raise or place this child for adoption? May peace and blessings be poured out on your life. May you find the freedom and healing you need. Press on mama. You are incredibly brave. This post may not be for you.

For mamas of children who have special needs, who have to weigh and measure your decision to have more children NOT based on your heart of hearts, but on your reality of caring for your child with special needs? You are precious, a rare gem. Follow your heart, trust your instincts, take your time, and engage God, medical professionals, therapists, and those closest to you about your decision to have more children or not. Whatever decision you make, it will be the right one for you and your family. This post may or may not be for you.

For mamas who have a history of abortion, who want to heal, overcome, create, birth and raise a little life someday, but aren’t ready, aren’t sure, aren’t feeling worthy of the call to be mama? This post may not be for you.

For mamas in other special circumstances – pregnant in your teens, pregnant in your forties, pregnant after years of infertility treatments, living in extreme poverty, living with mental illness or a significant medical condition, living amidst chronic trauma? This post may or may not be for you.

For all you mamas who KNOW you’re NOT done having kids, awesome. This post may not be for you (yet).

So who is this post for?

This post is for any mama who’s debating…

How will I know when I’m done having kids?

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Let me tell you a quick story. Our two oldest children are 11 and 9 years old. Our “baby” is 2 years old. So there’s nearly seven years between our second and third child. During those years in-between baby two and three, there were a couple things that made us question whether we should have more children. I sought answers, I sought wise counsel, and I wasn’t sure how to answer when people asked if we were done having kids. The truth was, I didn’t have confidence I was “done,” and my husband was willing to consider having another. So while the questions still lingered, our biological clocks were ticking. Finally, we committed to pray hard about it for one week. We felt led to try for a third child and became pregnant within months. Our third child has been a significant blessing for our entire family, and I wouldn’t trade her for the world. But now I’m 100% confident that we’re done having kids.

So I thought I’d share with you today what that looks like, what that feels like…to know, to be confident that you’re DONE having kids.

Here are 11 signs you MIGHT be done having kids…

1) You just KNOW you’re done having kids. Yes, you just know. This is hard to describe, but is the best all-around indicator that you’re done. It’s a feeling of complete clarity.

2) When another mama announces she’s pregnant, you’re happy for her, but her announcement doesn’t compel you to have another child yourself. In other words, other mamas’ pregnancies don’t stir in you a desire to become pregnant anymore.

3) When your “baby” is still your baby, and other “babies” her same age are becoming big brothers and sisters? And it hasn’t even crossed your mind to give your “baby” a baby brother or sister? And you don’t have any plans to give your “baby” a baby brother or sister any time in the future? Ya, you might be done having kids.

3) Maybe you’re the kind of mama who loved being pregnant. You still admire pregnant mamas’ beautiful, round bellies and glowing skin, and maybe you’d even choose to be pregnant again (just the pregnancy part). But you can’t quite picture yourself doing that newborn stage all over again, and you can’t picture yourself doing another round of middle of the night feedings, and you can’t picture yourself going through any of that all over again.

4) You remember labor and delivery all too well. You haven’t forgotten. In fact, you remember that last labor and delivery quite vividly. You promised yourself you’d never do this again! And you’re still confident. You won’t ever do that again.:)

5) When other mamas give birth and bring that little babe home, you’re glad to greet, hold and help with the baby, but not so quick to want to step in their shoes.

6) When it’s time to start putting away the baby stuff, you realize it’s actually time to get rid of it. And for the most part, you have no problem selling it, donating it, or giving it to someone. In fact, when any of your kids grow out of anything, you want to get rid of it right away, because you’re just ready to move beyond this baby, toddler, little kiddo clutter.

7) You’re willing to consider longer-term and/or permanent options for birth control. (Yes, I know this is a private, sensitive and potentially controversial subject, but I’ve seen many age/stage peers discuss this openly within a trusted group of friends when they know they’re done having kids. So I’m confident this is a significant sign.)

8) Your own dreams as a woman start moving to the forefront again. You look at where you’ve been, you look ahead at what’s to come, and the years flash before you. Time is ticking in a different way than before you had children. Life is only so long. So as much as you adore your children, you also know you need space to pursue the desires of your heart, space to make your way again.

9) You’re suddenly open to expanding your definition of “motherhood” to include children you engage with at work, in the neighborhood, at church, at family gatherings, and anywhere else you can get your hands on kids to fulfill those motherly instincts and desires you have. You don’t have to be everyone’s mother to be satisfied; being a motherly figure is just fine with you now.

10) You start daydreaming, just a little bit, of becoming a grandmother. And it sounds awesome, even better than motherhood. You know this isn’t the end. More than likely, you’ll have an opportunity to grand-mother your own grandkids or someone else’s grandkids down the road.

11) On good days, you feel perfectly in control of the children you have. Everything’s dandy. On bad days, you feel like you’re barely maintaining control of the children you have. And in the midst of very bad moments, you feel like you’re hanging on by a shoestring; you could truly use a little help. In your heart of hearts, you know that if you had one more child, you wouldn’t be able to care for your children the way you want to. Just the thought of that makes you very, very sad. Reality sets in. THIS. is the number of kids I’m supposed to have. You love your kids. You want to care and nurture your children to the best of your ability. And you want the best for your kids. You also know how much work it is to raise human beings, how much effort it takes to be a mother on call 24/7. So you know, this decision is for the best. It’s time to be done having kids. Because you want to love the children you’ve been blessed with oh so much.

So mamas, I’m not a psychologist, a doctor, or a child development researcher. And I’m certainly not God. But I am a mama. So mama to mama, heart to heart, I ask you to consider the points above and make your way accordingly. If you’re torn and confused, pray about it. The answer will become much more clear.

This isn’t so much a science as it is a matter of the heart.

Be gentle with yourself, mama. God has a plan for you and your family.

pinksig

 

 

 

SPECIAL NOTES ABOUT THIS POST:

I’m aware of the sensitive nature of this post. I could have easily written this post with a snarky, comedic tone. But that is not my nature. Rather, I have been careful to approach this subject with due diligence and honor, knowing there are many different views on child bearing.

I am also fully aware that I neglected to address fathers’ influence and involvement in this post. Obviously, fathers are critical to this discussion. My decision to keep fathers out of this post (for the most part) does not in ANY WAY downplay their significance in parenting or decision making. My desire was for this post to be written for a mama’s heart. Dads, if you would like to hear a dad’s opinion on this matter, perhaps I can talk my husband into writing a similar post from a male perspective?!

The 11 points I listed in this post do not represent every woman’s experience. But I wanted to put something out in the blogosphere for the woman who’s seeking answers to this age old question. How will I know I’m done having kids? I hope and pray this post lands on the screen of the souls who need it most. 

If this post finds you in the midst of questioning, feel free to email me at amybpederson@hotmail.com and I’m happy to chat it through with you in a more “intimate” setting. I’m honored to say I’ve walked one mama through this questioning, and she and her husband ultimately decided to have a fourth child, a decision they have clearly delighted in to this day.

Amy - Thanks, LeAnn. I clearly remember that day as well. You are similar to me in many ways. I trust and value your opinion and admire who you are. So you were definitely one person I knew I wanted to ask. I’m confident I would’ve regretted NOT having one more…it was weighing too heavy on my heart. Now, I have full confidence that our decision to have a 3rd was right for us. (even though I never, ever planned to have three). Grateful for your words and support.July 24, 2014 – 1:07 pm

Jessica Revak Milkes - Amy this is just perfect!! You and I are on the same page :). I’m always proud to call you my friend & I’m always amazed at what is in that beautiful mind of yours. Thanks for sharing these thoughts!! July 23, 2014 – 3:55 pm

Colleen Chastek Leaver - I loved this Amy!! Great Post. It took me back to the days when I had those very same questions rolling through my head and many of the answers to those questions I found here in your post.. The very same questions I asked myself and the same answers that lead me to my decision that our family was complete with 3 boys. EVEN though I longed to have a girl, in my heart of hearts, I knew 3 was my number :))July 23, 2014 – 1:34 pm

LeAnn Sather - I clearly remember the day you came to me at a business event and asked the question of me about having more babies. Our two oldest are the same age and then I had two more before your baby was born. I feel honored that you felt compelled to ask me about how we ever made the decision to have one more. I told you that if it was so heavy on your heart that you would never regret having one more beautiful life, but you may grow older and wonder and regret not having one more and then it would be too late. We even struggled for a couple of years about adding number 5. We are both now confident that 4 is the number that God intended us to raise. Prayer is definitely the best way to seek clarity. Beautiful post Amy.July 23, 2014 – 9:34 am

When It’s Mid-Summer and Your Kids Are Bored

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We had one cold, windy and dreary day on Monday. According to the weather forecasters, it was the coldest day we’ve seen in Minnesota on July 14th since 1884.

We were all cold. And quite honestly, we didn’t have much to do. Yep, the good ‘ol mid-summer phrase “I’m bored” came out for the first time that afternoon.

So what’s a mom to do when she has three kids who are acting bored out of their minds, it’s the coldest it’s been in 130 years, no friends are around, and another DVD just won’t cut it for mom or anyone else?

Think of a wholesome, very boring activity, and do it.

Boring, you say? Yep. Boring. Boring to them. Incredibly brilliant to you. Because mom? You know “boring” activities aren’t really boring. The kids just don’t know it yet.

So break out all the boring things from here on out. Like that boring, old fashioned activity where you all get down on the ground and draw with some sidewalk chalk. Color hearts until they shine like the sun, then let the toddler doodle right over them because it doesn’t matter anyway. Draw flowers in pots with blue skies, write your name in bubble letters layered with red, green and blue. Let her bring her furry blanket outside on the driveway and tuck away under it like a turtle for as long as she wants. And don’t even make a big deal of it when the pre-teen shows up. Because he’s too cool for sidewalk chalk. If you stay still, if you don’t say a word, he’ll join in for a little fun too. And let them get dirty, because there’s no reason they need to be clean at the end of this boring old day anyway.

And mom? Make sure you soak this moment in. Because this is boring. Truly boring stuff. It’s mid-summer. And life is boring. As boring as it’ll ever get.

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