How To Create A Schedule (Or Rhythm) For Your Week + Giveaway


This guest post was written by the first “mommy blogger” I fell in love with, during my first fragile months as a new mom. Her name is Jeanne Harrison from Loving My Lot and I am so honored to have her share some “real-life” wisdom with us when it comes to creating a schedule. 

How To Create A Schedule (Or Rhythm) For Your Week

Several years ago, I had some medical students over for dinner. Sometime during the evening while everyone was milling around the kitchen, one of them noticed my weekly schedule up on the fridge. Let me just say—it was a masterpiece. Color-coded, broken into thirty-minute increments, with all aspects of my life present and accounted for.

The medical student exclaimed, “Hey, look! We just learned about this in our psych rotation. It’s called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder!”

Okay. So it was a little over the top. That schedule lived on my fridge for months. In case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t follow it. That was my dirty little secret. But it was just too pretty to take down. I loved everything it represented. Order, rhythm, accomplishment, purpose.

When Rebekah asked me to blog about how to create a schedule for her homemaking series, I felt those same words bubble up inside of me. Yes! I thought. Creating a schedule is so worthwhile, especially for a SAHM whose days are a blank canvas before her. But where do you even start? How do you know which activities to choose and which to cut? And how do you make sure the schedule you create is one you can actually live out? I want to suggest three principles that can help answer those questions.

1. The first is this: build your schedule around your priorities. It may seem obvious, but it doesn’t happen by accident. What happens by accident is we build our schedule around what’s “got to get done,” and then we groan in frustration when a friend’s crisis interrupts grocery day. Or we build our schedule around all the things we “wish we could do” until we’ve got ten thousand commitments and not enough sanity to fulfill them. Or we don’t build any schedule at all, and we fly by the seat of our pants until we collapse into bed on Friday and wonder why we didn’t spend any time with the kids this week.

We need to start with our priorities. What do we value the most? What needs to be lifted off the bottom of our schedule, dusted off, and placed back on top? Is it a commitment to grow in our relationship with God? Is it a thriving, healthy marriage? Enough time (and sanity) to invest richly in our kids? Meaningful connections with friends? Evangelistic encounters with lost people?

For me, the answer is yes. Yes, yes, yes to all of the above. Those five values are among my top priorities. So as I evaluate my schedule, I need to ask myself: Are these values “showing up” in my minutes? And if they’re not, how can I reorder my schedule so that they are? Let me give you an example. Because my husband is a pastor, he’s off work on Friday and Saturday. One of the ways I try to build my schedule around my family is by busting my tail on Thursday. I make sure the laundry’s done and the pantry’s stocked, so that I’m all theirs over the weekend. Friday morning is sacred. While the girls are at school, I commit to nothing except spending time with my husband. Some days I’m helping him get things done at work, and other days we’re sipping coffee on the back deck. But barring extraordinary circumstances, I don’t schedule anyone or anything for Friday mornings. I build my schedule around my priorities.

The beautiful thing about orienting your schedule around your priorities, is it prevents the schedule from enslaving you. So what if little Lucy interrupts “dishwashing time” to talk about what’s troubling her? She trumps dishes. Your values drive your schedule. Not vice versa. As you build your schedule around the things that matter the most to you, you’ll begin to recognize which commitments need to go. But hold on just a second! Before you cross off everything “fun and relaxing” in light of more noble pursuits, let me share my second piece of advice.

2. Don’t forget to factor in time for yourself. Pouring into every person and animal that crosses your threshold while starving yourself, isn’t noble; it’s foolish. We need a little blank space in our lives. We need room to breathe, and rest, and take care of ourselves. It will make us such better wives, and moms, and servants of Christ!

So what do you enjoy? What re-charges those batteries? Reading? Watching a favorite show? Baking, blogging, jogging, scrapbooking…factor a little of that into your schedule, and guard it! Don’t feel guilty for saying, “Sorry, I have a prior commitment Tuesday evening.” You don’t have to tell them that the commitment is with Pandora and your bathtub. It still counts! It’s a valid commitment. You know why? Because you count! You are a valid person, and you’re worth investing in.

3. Finally, don’t be such a stickler. It sounds backwards, but I believe we’re more likely to maintain a schedule in the long run, if we give ourselves the freedom to scrap it every now and then. The pursuit of perfection always leads to burnout. (Hello, pretty little schedule on the fridge!) Order your chores so that they serve your family. Plan your week so that you’re investing in the Kingdom. Carve out margin for yourself. But also give yourself the grace to say, “I couldn’t stick to it this week. I’ll start over again next week.”

It’s not the most profound advice, but this is where I’ve landed over the past few years. If you came over for dinner tomorrow, you wouldn’t find a schedule on my fridge. But there is one in my brain. There is a rhythm and order to my life—imperfect and sometimes messy—but there just the same! And by God’s grace, this schedule reflects my values more than it has in the past. And by God’s grace, it includes taking care of myself. And by God’s grace, it’s allowed to be a work in progress. Just like me.

This guest post was written by author/blogger Jeanne Harrison of Loving My Lot. To read more her posts go to her blog, or check out her newly released book “Loving My Lot.”

Enter the contest to win it for FREE! (I seriously LOVE this book, and if I could afford to buy it for all my mom-friends and sisters..I would.;)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


[Join the discussion on the Free Spirit Homemaker Series: How To Maintain Your Home, Without Losing Your Soul! Check out these posts if you missed them: What Is The Purpose Of Homemaking?, Why Free-Spirits Are Naturally Terrible Homemakers, and Introducing The Free-Spirit Homemaker Series . Share your own thoughts in the comment section, or visit my Barren to Beautiful Facebook page.]

Why Our Homemaking Will Never Be Good Enough


Last winter, there were days I so hated living in my house. My house with it’s doors that froze shut during bitter temperatures, and windows that leaked with the melting snow, and my ugly kitchen floor staring at me day after day. But my husband would come home and get out his guitar and sit on that ugly floor and play and sing and worship. And my 2-year-old daughter would dance, and squeal, and spin around in circles. And I would sing and rock and sway. And in those moments, on the kitchen floor, the presence of God would fill our house so thick, it was other-worldly. It was Love come down with us. It was the Spirit of God filling our hearts and filling our house with Himself. And those were the moments that Heaven broke through.

And that kitchen floor became sacred ground.

Not because it was meticulously cleaned. Not because it was the latest design. But because we had sunk to our knees. And we found Him there. And behold, God was in that place and I did not know it.

And this is what makes it home. It’s not the home I’m making, it’s the home He is making in me. For Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23)

So, come Lord Jesus, come. Come and make your home in me, today and all eternity.

Click here to finish reading this post I wrote on author Emily Wierenga’s site. This post was originally published as part of Emily’s new Making It Home book launch. And it also is part of our Free-Spirit Homemaker Series:How To Maintain Your Home, Without Losing Your Soul. If you missed the last post, read it here “What Is The Purpose Of Homemaking?”

What Is The Purpose Of Homemaking?


Do you ever feel angry while doing the dishes? Maybe you bang and clang the pots and pans around extra loud after dinner as you’re filling the sink, or slam the kitchen cupboards a little extra hard? Maybe as the family relaxes after dinner you want to shout, rather sarcastically, “Don’t worry about me! I’ll be right here! In the kitchen! Cleaning up the dinner I just made you! Hope you’re all having LOTS of fun out there!!!” 

This was me last summer. (Not that I don’t still struggle..I do.) But it felt like all of my dreams, passions, and desires were constantly budding heads with one thing…housework, chores, and cooking. And they never ended.

I just couldn’t see the purpose in homemaking. I couldn’t find the joy in it. I didn’t even know how.


“I hate cooking,” I remember telling my mom when she came up for a visit last summer.  “But you’re a great cook!” she said. “Well, I still hate it.”

Somehow, about a month after that conversation, “Taste of Home Magazine,” began mysteriously appearing in my mailbox. (Thanks, Mom.)

I realized a couple of things last summer. One of them was that I really loved to write. The other, was that I really hated to cook, (and pretty much do all household chores.) I went through this phase where I walked around saying, “I hate this, I hate this, I hate this.”

It felt good to admit that. I was sick of pretending to like something I didn’t like at all. And part of me felt like I was discovering “myself”–what I was really passionate about, and what I was made to do. But as I felt more passionate about what I “loved,” I began to feel more contempt for what I hated. (Chores, cleaning, cooking, etc.)

Needless to say, that summer my homemaking skills really languished. The laundry piled up. The bathtub changed colors. And we ate lots of frozen pizza. So much that I started buying the big value 3-packs. (Sorry, Mom.)

I was stuck.

I knew I should care more about homemaking, and cooking, and cleaning. But I just didn’t.

Have you ever been in this place—where you just hate “homemaking?” Where you just feel like you were made for something more…than dishes, and laundry, and casseroles? And it all feels a lot more like a big burden, than a blessing?

What I didn’t understand that summer, but would learn later that year, was that there was a bigger purpose in homemaking that I couldn’t see yet.

It had to do with loving my husband and daughter. It had to do with “laying my life down” and “considering others better than myself.” It had to do with engaging with God in all things (not just in writing, but while I did the dishes, too.) It had to do with serving a larger goal than what my eyes could see in the pile of laundry, or the sticky kitchen floor. But what was it? This question kept coming back to me, and still does many days:

“What is the goal of homemaking? What is the purpose in it? Why do we do it?”

I desperately needed to see it with new eyes. I needed to see the purpose in it. Because, as a free-spirit, when I don’t see the meaning in something I’m doing, I struggle to do it with the right heart. (Or to do it at all.)

Perhaps you are in a place like I was, and you really don’t see the purpose in “housework.” If so, I encourage you to be very honest and bring those burdens to the Lord. Because God doesn’t want you to show Him the pretend you, He wants you to show Him the real you. Because when you are honest with Him about what you love, what you hate, your dreams, your passions, your heart cries–He hears you. And He can speak directly into your heart, to give you the vision for what He loves, what He hates, what His dreams, and passions, and heart cries are. And those are something worth living for.

Here Is The Purpose Of Homemaking


I asked my friend Rachel from Thriving Home to help answer a few questions for us about the “heart” behind homemaking for us. (She will be sharing more of the “how” in a later post.) But I think if you explore her and Polly’s beautiful Thriving Home Blog, (where I learned how to make freezer meals) you will want to pick her brain a little yourself. But here are a few of Rachel’s insights that helped me see “the bigger picture,” and the purpose behind it all.

Q: Rachel, what makes a “thriving” home? And what is the “goal” of homemaking?

A: First and foremost, a thriving home starts with making a relationship with God the center of the home. And from this relationship will flow thriving relationships within our home—marriage, parent-child, and sibling relationships. We see this principle in the Greatest Commandment that Jesus taught in Matthew 27:37-39: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus teaches us, just as the Old Testament laws and prophets did (vs. 40), the principle of the greater to the lesser. If we love God, it only makes sense that our love will also flow to those God created and put into our lives.
So, are you and your husband making time to go to church, read your Bible and pray, and teach your children about the gospel? Are you trying to live out your faith authentically (yet imperfectly) in front of your children, friends and neighbors? Relationship with God and our family (whoever that is for you) are the cornerstones of a thriving home.

But relationships in a home without some order and work around the house do suffer. That’s where homemaking skills like organizing, cleaning, cooking, decorating, etc. come in. The purpose of homemaking is to serve and enhance the relationships in the home. This is a really important concept to “get,” so let’s flesh out this idea for a moment:

When I have a dinner plan in advance, I can start on it in the morning and/or avoid a last minute trip to the store…and I have more relational time with my kids after school.

When our home is relatively clean, organized, and decorated…my husband feels more relaxed at home and we are more likely to want to invite friends and family over.

When dinner is around the table most nights…we put our phones away, pray together and talk to one another (in a sometimes kid-chaotic way that is).

You get the idea, right? Organization, cleanliness, and eating well aren’t the ultimate goal. But, they do serve the ultimate goal of building close, lasting relationships that honor God.

Q: What hope would give to the women who feels her home is chaotic?

A: One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that NO ONE has it all together at home. Homemaking is a messy process because we live in a messy, broken world. A perfect home is just not possible, nor is it healthy to strive for one. Because, being perfect is not the point and it’s not what God asks of us. Instead, the goal of homemaking is to ultimately glorify God and bless your family and others. And that will look different for all of us, depending on our specific skills set, family needs, and values.

Q: How does your role as a homemaker honor God? How do you feel you are showing love to your family through making your home thrive?

A: Abraham Kuyper, a famous Dutch theologian, aptly said, “There is not one square inch in the entire creation about which Jesus does not cry out, ‘This is mine! This belongs to me!’” Jesus generously gives us our homes, our relationships, and this work at home. There is no job that is beneath him or that he doesn’t care about. All of creation is from him, through him, and for him (Romans 11:36). So every time we move a laundry load along again or we swish a toilet again or we work at spending our money wisely or we take extra time making our child’s favorite breakfast, we are being good stewards of what He has given us. We are bringing Him glory and loving our families well.

I love Rachel’s answer on this, and I’m adopting it as my own. The bottom line is:

The ultimate goal is not “order, healthy meals, and cleanliness.” Those things serve the ultimate goal: which is to love and worship God, and to build close God-honoring relationships with each other.

It’s not about loving your “house” more. (If that’s the case, your house can turn into an idol real quick.) It’s about loving your family and cherishing those relationships more, and creating an environment where they can thrive.

As Rachel said, when there is some order in the home, dinner is on the table, we naturally engage with each other more. And want to invite friends over more. Perhaps we may even feel more inclined to sit down with a cup of coffee and read our Bibles, or write or, worship.

I still have days where I bang the dishes around and slam the cupboard doors. But when I do, it’s usually because I’m forgetting the ultimate goal. And the goal is God. I want to love Him, and know His love. And I want to show His love my husband and daughter. I want to create an atmosphere where He can be glorified, engaged with, and worshiped.

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Phillipians 2:3-4


Where are you at with homemaking currently? Do you enjoy it? Hate it? Is it easy or hard to see the purpose (or “ultimate goal”) in it? Feel free to share in the comment section!

Learn more about the “heart” and the “how” behind homemaking by following this September series “The Free-Spirit Homemaker: How To Maintain Your Home, Without Losing Your Soul.”  Go to Barren to Beautiful’s Facebook page and “like” it in order to have new posts pop up right in your newsfeed! Or enter your email address on my blog and have posts delivered straight to your inbox!


Introducing “The Free-Spirit Homemaker Series”

free spirit homemakerIf you’ve ever burned the grilled cheese, and served it anyway (after scraping off the “black” side with a knife)…

If you’ve ever let the clothes “stink” in the washer. And tried to get away with it by tossing extra dryer sheets in to cover up the smell (so that all your clothes end up smelling like perfumed farts)…

If you’ve ever opened up Tupperware from your fridge and almost been knocked over by the smell of “something” from another era, that appears to have changed molecular structure multiple times…

If you’ve ever completely forgotten to make dinner for your family…

If your dinner-bell and smoke detector sound strangely alike…

Or, if you’re grocery shopping trips look like a leisurely walk in the park, because you take time to smell the flowers (or every single one of the Glade plug-ins)…

You might be a free-spirit.

I know this, because I am one.

And free-spirits are strong in many areas. They are instinctly creative, expressive, and relationally intimate with people. They are lovers of beauty, seekers of meaning, and they always follow their hearts.

Often, they are artistic, or at least appreciate art deeply, whether it’s the art of writing, reading, creating, or simply being in the moment. And when they are doing something they are very passionate about, it’s as if time stands still.

(Except, it doesn’t. And that’s why the grilled-cheese burns. Or the laundry never gets switched. Or the grocery shopping trip gets pushed back three days.)

Read my last post to understand why free-spirits are “naturally” terrible homemakers.

I don’t think most free-spirits know they can improve at homemaking. Or if they do, they think it will cost them everything they love and enjoy. I understand this because as I have struggled with homemaking and realize, “I need to get better at this,” it has in time’s past flung me into one of two directions.

All, or nothing.

I’ve either A.) All. Pulled up my boot-straps and gone into “Cleaning Dragon” mode, printing off rigorous “chore charts” from Pinterest, and threatening to bite the head off of anyone who dares leave their socks on the floor. I got dinner on the table in time, but I nearly singed my husband’s eyebrows off with my dragon fire when he walked on my freshly mopped floor with his grassy just-mowed-the-lawn shoes. Typically, my “beast-mode” form of homemaking doesn’t work well for me, or my family.

Or more commonly, B.) Nothing. This is where I happily let my house look like a tornado went through it. I let the laundry pile up all week, and I order pizza for dinner, and I really don’t care what the kitchen looks like, or if my closets could eat you. I just want to do what I love to do (which is often writing) and so what if my daughter eats popsicles for breakfast, and my husband eats cereal for supper? I just want to enjoy life. (Except, no one enjoys it. Because there’s nothing to eat, there’s no clean sippie cups, and no clean clothes to wear.)

The problem with both A and B is the same: I am not walking in love. My desires are at the top of the list (whether it’s perfection, or pursuing my passions). Not my husband’s. Not my daughter’s. I’m not considering their desires as more important than my own.

So, what’s a girl to do? Especially, when she is a free-spirit and has dreams and passions of her own?

Well, I hope to answer that question in the following weeks. I’m starting a new series here at Barren to Beautiful. It’s called, “The Free-Spirit Homemaker: How To Maintain Your Home, Without Losing Your Soul.”

There is going to be practical advice for “how” to manage your home, and also some bigger questions to address the “heart” behind the homemaker.

Because I don’t think it has to be all, or nothing. Homemaking doesn’t have to be a choice between Dragon Wife and Hippie Slob.

I am convinced there is another way.

It can simply be walking by the Spirit. Even in the area of homemaking. Because where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

And there is rest. And joy. And love, so much love.

I have some dear friends (Rachel and Polly from Thriving Home, and Jeanne Harrison from Loving My Lot) who will be sharing some practical advice and wisdom when it comes to thinking through a better approach to our houses, and the people in our houses. (And these ladies have helped me, big time. I can’t wait for you to meet them!) Some topics that we’ll be covering are:

• How To Create A Schedule (Or Rhythm) For Your Day or Week
• How To Meal Plan and Make A Grocery List (Not scribbled on a napkin)
• How To Make (Healthy and Easy) Freezer Meals (And Save LOTS of Time)
• How To Manage Your Time For The Glory of God (And Keep Your Goals And Dreams Alive!)
• How To Find Out What Blesses Your Husband Most (It may not be what you think!)

I believe there has to be a way to maintain the homes and nuture the people God has given us, without losing our souls in the process.

God made us for His glory, and when He is on the throne, we can start aligning everything else accordingly. That’s why we won’t just be discussing the “how” of homemaking, but the “heart” behind the homemaker, and where our thoughts, attitudes, and ambitions are in the process. God doesn’t just care about “your house.” He cares about you. ALL of you. Your whole being. Along with each person in your family.

And when we start seeing them, our husbands, our sons, our daughters as precious as they really are–we won’t be able to help but want to love and nurture them well.

There is much more to come. You won’t find any rigid rules here. Just lots of grace, practical wisdom, ideas, and new approaches to making your house “home”, and nurturing the ones who live there. (Including you, because you still need time to let your soul breathe.)

I hope you join along for this series!  You can follow Barren to Beautiful by entering your email address in the top right section of my blog. Or, simply go to my Facebook page and “like” it. This way, you will recieve new posts right in your newsfeed. Also, I will be posting questions on Facebook, that I would love to have you answer so I can hear YOUR thoughts and perspectives.

See you next time, as we’ll be discussing, “What Is the Point Of Homemaking Anyway?”

(What do you think it is? Share in the comment section.)


Why Free-Spirits Are Naturally Terrible Homemakers

free spirit homemaker

Some women are “naturally” good homemakers. They are innately organized, tidy, and clean. So there are never crumbs on the kitchen counter, or dishes left in the sink overnight. They have this God-given desire to bring order to chaos, to actually wash clothes according to their instruction labels, and to arrive to places on time.

This type of woman is put-together, goal-oriented, and methodical. Which means, her home actually looks like the Pinterest paradise you dream about. (And she probably created some of those pins, too.)

If you’re like me, maybe you’ve wondered, “How does she do it?”

I don’t think a woman like that just morphs into “Martha Stewart” overnight. Something within her causes her to be this way. And she probably has had a “Type A”, or “perfectionist” personality her whole life. (And I don’t mean that as a bad thing. At all.)

If you could peak inside her desk, way back when she was in 4th grade, I gaurantee the books and notebooks would be neatly stacked, her folders in order, and all her pencils, perfectly sharpened in her pencil pouch. Everything would be in it’s place—just like her home is today.

I am not a perfectionist. Sometimes, I really wish I was.

Because if you could peak inside my desk in 4th grade, here are some things you would find: pencil shavings, bits of broken eraser that I stabbed to death, a 1996 Women’s U.S. Olympic Gymnast team folder (which I colored all their eyes out with my blue pen), and a dirty sock.  (The sock, I found in my sweatshirt sleeve during class, and carefully inched it into my desk without my teacher noticing. Don’t ask me how it got in there.)

So you can imagine, now as an adult, how my house would look.

If you stopped for a surprise visit, you might see toys strewn about the living room, dishes piled up in the sink, and all of our underwear on the bathroom floor. And if you tried to microwave something, I would probably try to physically “block” you–because I wouldn’t want you to see the lasagna that was massacred in there, all over the walls.

And who knows what else you’d find? I may even have a dirty sock up my sleeve.

After six years of being married, I have realized why I struggle with homemaking so much. And it’s not because I’m lazy.

It’s because I’m a free-spirit.

And something within me causes me to be this way.

I love to be captivated by beauty, to follow my heart. And I would rather have my soul in order, than my pantry. I do everything very slowly, and I know the art of enjoying beautiful moments. Some feel too sacred to be interrupted by dishes or laundry.

What Is A Free-Spirit?

You don’t need to wear hippie clothes, or flowers in your hair to be a free-spirit. Because being a free-spirit isn’t something you wear—it’s something you are.

Deep inside of you.

And God made you this way. For His glory.

The free-spirit is just that, free. She is not calculated, or methodical—she is spontaneous. She searches for adventure, and meaning, and beauty in everything she does. She feels emotions very deeply, and enjoys the art of expressing herself through words, or pictures, or music. She tends to be artistic by nature, and is easily captivated by beauty. She is relational, and deep, and intimate.

And because of these things, free-spirits are naturally terrible homemakers.

Because homemaking requires some level of organization, order, and routine–all things a “free-spirit” is resistant to. It goes against their “spontaneity.” It takes planning to grocery shop, to make meals, to have some kind of rhythm for keeping the laundry going. It takes discipline to wash the dishes, and clean out the fridge. And sometimes just scrubbing the kitchen floor doesn’t sound that meaningful or important. Or fun.

But about a year ago, I realized something needed to change in our house. I knew that because of my free-spirit nature, I struggled with homemaking, but I had to believe it was possible to improve my skills. After all, my husband needed healthy meals, on-time for dinner, and not burned because I was reading “The Hunger Games.” He needed his clothes to smell good, and not left in the washer too long, because I lost track of time writing. And my daughter needed clean Sippie cups. And some structure we could build our week around.

It was just a matter of the value I placed on it. And I needed to place more. A lot more.

It wasn’t about placing more value on my home, it was about placing more value on the people in my home.

I started thinking, “If I spend all my time doing what I enjoy, instead of making my home enjoyable for others, or enabling them to do what they enjoy, am I really “considering others better than myself?” And if I love my passions, more than I love the people in my own home, am I really walking in love?”

Introducing “The Free Spirit Homemaker Series”

I should be the last person to write about homemaking. But God has had such grace on me in my many homemaking “weaknesses.” (And so has my husband!) And though I’m a big work in progress, I’ve learned a lot about my home, my husband, and my heart when it comes to making my home, actually feel like a home.

So, for the month of September, I’m doing a series called, “The Free Spirit Homemaker: How To Maintain Your Home, Without Losing Your Soul.” It’s a series of posts about some really simple homemaking skills that have begun to transform the atmosphere of my home. For the better.

I have some incredible friends who have taught me some great insights, (Polly and Rachel from Thriving Home, and Jeanne Harrison from Loving My Lot). They will be sharing some really valuable and practical advice (you can actually do) like:

  • How To Create A Schedule (Or Rhythm) For Your Day or Week
  • How To Meal Plan and Make A Grocery List (Not scribbled on a napkin)
  • How To Make (Healthy and Easy) Freezer Meals (And Save LOTS of Time and Money)
  • How To Manage Your Time For The Glory of God (And Keep Your Goals And Dreams Alive)
  • How To Find Out What Blesses Your Husband Most (It may not be what you think!)
  • How Your Attitude Affects Everyone In the House

Such grace awaits you here! And I will be sharing some of my own homemaking “fails” and lessons learned (the hard way). I’m so excited for some of these guest posts, because I know how helpful they have been in my own home. It’s amazing that learning some of these “methods” has actually helped me spend less time in the kitchen, and less time grocery shopping, and given me more time for spontaneous adventures and beautiful moments, as they come.

Whether you are a “free-spirit,” or a stay-at-home-mom, a new wife, or just someone who wants to take an honest look at how well you are “loving” your family in the area of homemaking—I really hope you can join in on this.

Because when homemaking becomes simply an act of love, and nothing more, for the purpose of blessing and ministering to the people God has given us, it suddenly becomes, something beautiful.

And free.


Don’t miss the upcoming series, “The Free-Spirit Homemaker: How To Maintain Your Home Without Losing Your Soul.” Just “Follow” my blog by entering your email in the top right side of my blog, and never miss a post. Or, you can simply “Like” my Barren to Beautiful Facebook Page, and new posts will automatically appear in your newsfeed!

The Zombie Mommy In The Mirror

scared woman
Last night, when I saw my reflection in the mirror, it actually startled me. My daughter was simply brushing her teeth, and I was helping her steer her toothbrush into her mouth and away from the nasty drain (where she likes to put it). And when I glanced up into the mirror, I jumped. Because this woman with black mascara and eye-liner drooped about half an inch lower than where it should be, and looking much like a zombie, was staring back at me. “Whoa!” I exclaimed, and quickly grabbed a tissue and wiped off the melting mascara that had somehow turned me Zombie Mommy by night fall.

To be honest, I was kind of surprised I hadn’t scared anyone else in the house with my horrifying looks. You’d think as I was coaxing my two year old daughter, with my arms wide out to, “Come here!” she would have shrieked with panic and hidden under her bed or something.

But she didn’t.

You see, before I saw “Zombie Mommy” in the mirror that night, we were actually having a lot of fun. And I was doing something I don’t do nearly enough–I was playing with her. Not like, “Oh, that’s cute honey,” while I distractedly went through my facebook newsfeed. But I actually put my phone and iPad away, and was fully hers. We were in the living room playing what she was calling “the boat game.” (One of my childhood favorites.) It’s where you take the couch cushions and make them a giant raft on the floor, and then the big storm comes, and you save each other from the sharks, and rescue each other from drowning in the “water,” and you scream the whole time. (I highly recommend it.)

And while this was going on, and we were shrieking and saving each other and rolling around on the floor–I had no idea my hair was a wreck and my eyeliner had smeared below my eyes, and that I looked like a zombie. I just knew I was having fun, and so was she, and in that moment, that’s all that mattered.

The great thing about being Zombie Mommy is that before you look in the mirror and see a zombie staring back at you, you are usually having a fantastic time.

I fully agree with John Piper who says, “The really wonderful moments of joy in this world are not the moments of self-satisfaction, but self-forgetfulness.” (pg. 33, Don’t Waste Your Life) You wouldn’t take someone to the Alps and lock them in a room full of mirrors. Because the greatest joy doesn’t come from seeing how great you look, it comes from gazing on a majesty that is greater, and more powerful, and more glorious than yours.

toddler play

And in motherhood there is something greater than the Alps right in your living room. There is this glory right in front of you, staring back in the eyes of a little boy or girl who very much bears the image of God.  And His glory.

But sometimes we miss it.

I wish I could say I don’t care what I look like. But I still do. And while I’ve come a long way from the girl who used to check her make-up during 8th grade Social Studies class, and reapply my lip glass and Champagne eyeshadow (anyone else?) during study hall–I still care very much about that girl in the mirror. And she sometimes the girl in the mirror takes me away from the little girl in the room that is waiting for me, and longing for me, and crying for me to come and play ” the boat game.”

Though I don’t want to totally “let myself go,” I have to say, sometimes I really admire Zombie Mommy. Because, there is a reason she looks like a zombie, and no matter how “ugly” she looks, there is usually a very beautiful reason behind it.

And to the mom who looks like a zombie tonight–you are exactly where you need to be. Every time you nurse your baby, or change a diaper, or fall asleep in the glider–you are being a living and breathing example of love. And while you don’t need to feel guilty if you do find time to primp, you don’t need to feel bad about the times you don’t. Because those times you don’t, and you are blissfully unaware that your mascara is down to your cheek bones and your hair looks like Medusa–are actually some of your most shining moments, in your kids eyes. They won’t remember if you had your make up on, or your hair was straightened, or if it was in a giant messy bun–but they will remember that you made them feel loved. They will remember the time you rolled around on the floor and played “the boat game,” or any game at all. They will remember your laughter, they will remember your joy, and the way your eyes shone when you looked into theirs. And they will remember always, your arms open out wide to embrace them, and hold them close.

And as far as I’m concerned, that doesn’t make you a zombie. It actually makes you quite beautiful.


To The One Feeling Major Anxiety With The Start Of The School Year


When I was a kid, I used to be terrified the night before school started. So much, that I couldn’t sleep.  So much that one year, my little sister and I decided to get out of bed and do jumping jacks–just to make us tired enough to sleep. (Of course we got in big trouble when my parents heard “thumping” coming from our second story bedroom. And soon, we were back to laying in our beds, just staring into the darkness, and praying for the apocalypse to come before morning.)

I’m no longer praying for the apocalyspe, but “Back to School” season still brings me some major anxiety, even though I’m no longer a student, or a teacher. But just because the season is changing.

The other night we were driving home when I felt my stomach starting to twist into knots. I just felt…anxious. And I couldn’t connect it with any one thing. It was just everything. “Everything is making me feel anxious,” I told my husband. I couldn’t find the words, it was just…anxiety that slithered in like python, and was beginning to wrap around me.

I started to think about the start of the school year. And about the way our schedule will change. The new responsibilities I will be taking on. The goals I have. The expectations, and mounting pressure to, “Do more, and be more.”

And I don’t know if you ever feel this…anxiety.

But I do.

And I think it’s the same thing I’ve been wrestling since elementary school, when I was afraid I wouldn’t have someone to sit with at lunch, or I wouldn’t know the answer, or I wouldn’t be good enough for the team.

And the thing I fear is: Inadequacy.

My inadaquacy.

The fear of not being able. Of being insufficient. “Not enough.” Or too weak to follow through with my goals. The fear of not meeting expectations. The fear of failing. Of not performing well enough.

And as I thought about the year ahead, I just felt so sure I would drown in it.

“You will never be good enough. No matter how hard you try, you will always fail.” 

I  felt like I already failed—and I hadn’t even started yet.

“I’ll never have enough time to accomplish what I need to do. I’ll by flying by the seat of my pants as always. I’ll be stressed out. I’ll never have the energy. I will always do a mediocre job at everything I do.”

I felt defeated—and I hadn’t even tried yet.

And then came the worst voice of all, “What are you so worried about? It’s not like you’re even doing anything. People do tons more than you every day, and you don’t hear them moaning about it! Just suck it up!”

If you have ever heard a voice like this, or had a thought like this, I want to tell you right now: this is not from your Abba Father.

This is from the enemy of your soul.

And you want to know something? He wants to destroy you.

Because no matter what your “job” is, no matter if you get paid the big bucks, or none; no matter if you are teaching, or homeschooling, or just walking your child to the bus; no matter if you have six kids, or one; no matter if you have lots of supervisors to report to, or you are self-employed—you may be hearing these whispers, too.

They come from a deep and dark place, and they are the voice of the enemy. And they just keep whispering, “Inadequacy, inadequacy, inadequacy.”

Direct Your Deeds To The Lord

The morning I was wrestling those whispers, and my stomach was churning with anxiety, I happened to read Hosea 5:4, “They do not direct their deeds toward turningto their God, for the spirit of harlotry is in their midst, and they do not know the Lord.”

What pierced me, was that God says,“They do not direct their deeds toward turning to their God’… ‘And they do not know the Lord.” I looked down at my list of “to-do’s” and realized something BIG: I was not directing my deeds to the Lord.

And that’s why insurmountable stress was building. I was taking on goals, and responsibilities, and jobs myself—and not directing those “deeds” to the Lord. I was not even asking Him for help.

I completely believe that God wants us to call on Him during even the most minor tasks. So yes, call on His strength when you are scrubbing the toilet, ask for His patience while your internet is being slow, ask for His love when your husband desperately needs a back massage and you are tired as a dog. Because…

This life was never meant to be lived apart from the all-sufficiency of Jesus Christ.

And we desperately need Him to invade every single area of lives with His grace. And something happens when you call on Him—He comes. He gives you the strength. He brings you the peace. He fills you with the joy.

When Anxiety Meets His All-Suffiency 

I know the voices that rise against you, because they rise against me, too. And I could try to encourage you by telling you how great you are. How talented. How there is no one like you. But at the end of the day…that doesn’t actually help.

See, God spoke to my anxious heart. And He didn’t encourage me by telling me how great I was, He encouraged me, He empowered me by telling me how great He was.

And as I looked over my scribbled to-do list, and prayed for the strength to do it, God just spoke so simply and softly to my heart. This is what He said:

“My Grace is where your “not enoughness” meets My all-sufficiency.”

My Grace is where your “not enoughness” meets My all-sufficiency.

Dear brothers and sisters, there is so much grace in Jesus Christ. And for the one who feels like you failed, before you’ve even begun this year…To the one who feels defeated, before you’ve even got started, maybe it’s today is the day you lay your insufficiency down at the cross of His all-sufficiency.

It was as if He is shouting,
“Hey! All you insufficient ones! I will make you sufficient!
All you weak ones! I will be your strength!
All you unable ones! I will make you able!
So call to Me! Cry to Me! Because I am going to blow your mind this year!
And you won’t be impressed with what you can do! But you will be in total awe…of what I can do! And at the end of it, you will fall down and weep with joy because with your own eyes you will see and behold Me!” 

God is going to give you everything you need this year.

God is going to give you the energy you need. The financial provisions you need. The mind you need. The motivation you need. The organization you need. The vision you need. The weakness you need. The brokenness you need. The humility you need.

And He is going to give you Himself.

And He will fulfill His purpose for you.

So the pressure is off. And we can send the whispers of anxiety back to the father of lies, where they came from.

Because we have a good, good Father. And as long as we fall on Him, we cannot fail.

His grace is sufficient for us. His power is made perfect in our weakness. And when we are weak, He is even more strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

And God did not entrust you to anything this year that He will not overwhelmingly empower you to do.

So come, indadequate ones and fall on His grace, that beautiful place where your not-enoughness meets His all-sufficiency.

“For He who calls you is faithful, and He will surely do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24

All I See Are Blooms


She’s supposed to be sleeping, but instead, I hear her across the hall. She’s laying in her bed, telling her “knock knock” joke to her stuffed horse. And chattering softly to herself, to her stuffed animals. And to any angels who may be listening in.

I’m sitting on the bed, typing, just to let my soul breathe for a second. Just to inhale this moment. Just to breathe in His grace. And all the love He’s lavished right here in this place. Just to pause for a moment and look around at all He has given me.

Our room is messy, with the clothes we decided not to wear tonight still scattered on the bed, the dresser drawers are pulled out unevenly of the furniture that doesn’t match. Our curtains are ones that I picked up at a yard sale in June.

And I feel like a queen. Not because of anything I’ve done, or accomplished, but because of how great a thing I’ve been given. Because what I have is so good.

And I don’t always see it. The treasure that is my life. The treasure that is my husband, that is my daughter. The treasure that is my God.

But tonight, for these couple minutes of quiet, the blinders are off my eyes. I can see.

And what I see, is so good. Many people who are more successful, more wealthy, more “whatever” could look on me, and see failure. But I don’t care at all what others might see.

I care what He sees. And I care that He sees me, seeing Him. All of Him, and only Him as the One who has blessed me beyond all I could ever ask, or hope, or imagine.

And all of the best things, are coming with me to the next life. All of the best things aren’t the ones that thieves can break in and steal, or moths and rust can destroy. Because Jesus said, that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

And my soul is free tonight. For once, even if just for it a little. I can fly. The thing I’ve dreamed of doing all my life.

And if Peter Pan was right about one thing—it was the happy thoughts.

That happy thoughts make you fly.

It’s easy to be weighed down by all the evil, all the horror. I can think even now of the terrible news I read on news feeds tonight. And it’s so easy to let my eyes grow dark with the darkness. To let my heart grow heavy with the sins of the world, and it’s aching groans.

I’ve always had a bent toward sorrow, toward grief. Almost like grief would keep me sober. Grief would keep me ready for anything. It would protect my heart from being naïve. And so, I only listened to sad music, I identified with it. It seemed most real to me. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been more captivated by sorrow, than by joy.

Until now.

Because I feel God wants to open the floodgates of joy. Because joy is more powerful than anyone thinks it is.

Joy is the heartbeat of the other world we were all made for. The world to which we are all waiting, and longing to go. The one where all of our treasures are.

In the movie, “Luther,” there is a monk who says, “All my life, I have lived in a world that has hated evil, more than it’s loved good.”

A world that has hated evil, more than it has loved good.

I know I am guilty as charged. Perhaps many other Christians are as guilty as me. It’s just that the bad things are so…bad. Sometimes I don’t realize that the good things are so…good. Or that the good things are all…from God.

I remember one night several months ago, there was such outrage on Facebook, about a very broken man who was trying to become a woman. And there were photos of him, and there was anger, and perversity, and nasty comments going back and forth. And my heart felt so heavy, over our world, over the confusion, over it all.

But just then, as I was feeling so discouraged, an email from the other side of the world popped up in my inbox that said, “Xavier was born!” He is my nephew, born to my missionary sister-in-law and brother-in-law in Niger, Africa. And when I saw his face, his little tiny newborn face, in the photo attachment—I just cried happy tears because, he was so beautiful. And the news was so good.

He was my happy thought.

And in the week to come, I kept thinking of his little face. I kept feeling I could fly. Just because of him. The joy he was. The evidence of “good.” Of God.

And I began to learn that however large those dark clouds hang, they are not bigger than the light that bursts through these good and perfect gifts from God.
Last spring, I was weeding my flower bed and I felt sure I heard the Lord speak to me. Not in an audible voice, but in my mind. But He said, in an Irish accent, (and I know how crazy this makes me sound) but He said, “Do you hate weeds more than you love flowers?”

And right away, I knew exactly what He meant. “Do you hate weeds, more than you love flowers?”

Do you hate the bad, more than you love the good?

Do the weeds invoke more anger and irritation in you, than the joy of these blooming flowers?

Do you mourn the losses, more than you celebrate the victories?

In this life, there are always going to be weeds. There are always going to be flaws, there are always going to bad things, and people that are not perfect. There are always going to be problems, and trials, and evil. There will always be weeds.

But there will always be flowers, too.

And when I look out on my life, on other’s lives—am I going to see the weeds, or the flowers? And am I going to hate the weeds, more than I love the flowers?

I think God likes flowers. And maybe that’s why He hasn’t “rototilled” us all to pieces by now.

He’s more gracious than I can comprehend. And sometimes, when I read about King David’s life, all I can see is this lying, adulterous, deceitful man, enslaved to sexual addiction, and lust.

All I see are a whole bunch of nasty weeds.

But that isn’t what God sees. God notoriously calls David, “A man after My own heart.” A man who passionately worshipped, and cried out to God from his bed, and who sang with his whole being, and knew his own brokenness, and God’s own goodness and mercy, and trusted in it, all the days of his life. That’s what God sees. The flowers. The beautiful, glorious flowers.

And I want to see how God sees. In my own life, and in other people’s lives. Because I think He sees and appreciates and rejoices in beauty more than anyone thinks He does. And when we join Him in this—we feel His pleasure.

Oh, I want to feel His pleasure!

So I’m going to love the good, more than I hate the evil. I’m going to love the flowers, more than I hate the weeds.

Because flowers are beautiful.

Last night, I fell asleep to my husband playing his guitar and singing in the other room. And there was no sweeter sound in all the world. I just lay in our bed and soak in his voice like the most soothing lullaby I’ve ever heard.

I forget the miracle he is sometimes. I forget the mystery of the way we met. I forget how precious he is. I forget the softness of his voice.

And just to lay and listen, as tears form in my eyes, and love him all the more—just because he’s mine. Just because I wouldn’t trade him for the world. Just because God gave him to me, as a gift. A good and perfect gift. Not because he is perfect, but because He is from God, and that makes him perfect for me.

Right now, Selah is sleeping across the hall. But tonight, when I put her down, I lay with her in her bed and as we lay in the dark, she held my face in her hands and smiled wide at me, looking at me like she was a proud grandma. With her hands still on my cheeks, I said, “Hey Selah, did you know that I always wanted to have a little girl named Selah?” And she just giggled. And after a few minutes I said, “Hey Selah, what do you think is in heaven?” And she said, “Toys.”

And we both laughed with the blankets pulled up to our chins.

She’s two, and the youngest miracle I know. And I don’t know what heaven holds, but when I hear her laugh, when I hear my husband sing, I feel heaven breaking through.

I feel the treasure they are. I feel my heart move into that place where no one can steal my joy away. And I see flowers breaking through the dirt.

And I love flowers because they are beautiful. Even with the weeds, they are beautiful.

And tonight, all I see are blooms.

Three Little Words That Ignite Friendship


They are just three little words.

But they are hard to say.

And they’re not, “I love you.”

They are more honest than that. They are more desperate than that. They are more powerful than that.

And they are what real friendship is made of.

I heard my little sister say those three little words to me on the phone, as her 8-month-old cried in the background, and my two-year-old spread oatmeal through her hair, and because she said them, and the way she said them, I dropped my plans and met her an hour away at an outlet mall–because I knew she meant them.

I said those three little words last fall, the night I stood at my friend’s door in the pouring rain, frazzled and overwhelmed, because I felt like such a failure as a mom, and she invited me in. And we hugged, and I just cried on her couch. And somehow all my questions and all my fears were answered in her very simple smile. And her gentle nodding, and offering me tissues, and brownies.

And that same friend said those three little words in a text message last week, along with the news that made me bury my face in my hands, and cry for her, and drive to her house with a bouquet of white roses that weren’t enough, but they were all I could think of. And we just sat on her couch, without words, and tried not to cry, while her toddler daughter sat between us and held both of our hands, as if she understood it all perfectly–as if she were the very peace of God.


The three little words are not profound, but they are powerful. And when it comes to friendships, they move mountains.

So what are the three little words? They are,

I need you.

“I need you.”

It’s what my sister said on the phone, before we both took off to meet each other at a random “food court” rendezvous point, so we could see each other in person. So we could, even for a couple hours, be the sisters we were as children, the sisters that used to jump on the bed together, and talk late into the night–the sisters we desperately still need to be. And that day, I went to meet her because she needed me. But I drove home, realizing just how much I needed her.

“I need you.”

It’s what I said to my friend when I felt I was losing it as a mom. When I felt I was going to break from all the sleepless nights and crying. When I just needed to know she understood me. That she was for me. And that I wasn’t alone.

“I need you.”

It’s what my friend texted me the morning after a very long and dark night. “I need you…and I need you to pray for me.”

And she said later at her house, “I’m so sorry to drag you through this with me.”

And my heart wrenched because, what she didn’t know, what my flowers couldn’t say, what my words couldn’t express, was just how honored I was to be at her side. Just to walk with her through the valley. Just to sit with her until the dawn. Just to be her friend.

“I need you.”

They are just three simple words, so why are they so hard to say?

Maybe because we don’t want to believe we really need anyone.

Because maybe that makes us needy. Maybe that makes us incapable of doing it ourselves. Maybe that makes us no longer self-sufficient.

But do you know what God calls that kind of do-it-myself-at-all-costs type of self-sufficiency?


And pride makes a person very lonely.

It’s not just about having friends. It’s about having friends who you can fail in front of. Who you can be weak in front of. And it’s about giving your friends permission to serve you, when you need it.

We all want to be the stronger friend. We all want to be the advice-giver, not the advice-seeker. We all want to be the one ministering to others. We all want to look like we have it together (and typically hide away, until we do.)

But what if this is actually killing our relationships?

What if this desire to appear stronger, and wiser, and more peaceful than we really are, is actually making us weaker? What if it’s destroying our friendships, not saving them?

The generation we live in is more “self-sufficient” than any generation prior. We don’t really need each other anymore. I don’t need to ask my mom for parenting advice, I can get that online. I don’t need to call my sister for that recipe, I have Pinterest. I don’t need to ask my friend how she overcame a difficult season, I can just Google it.

It’s easier than ever before to become isolated.

But something beautiful happens when we need each other. And we’re not afraid to admit it.

Maybe the people closest to you don’t really know, how much you need them. Maybe they don’t realize how much they need you. But realizing we need one another, is the beginning of something; it’s the beginning of friendship.

So I’m going to dare you to tell them, to say those three little words:

“I need you.”

I don’t know who needs to hear it, but I guarantee someone does.

Maybe you need to say it to the friend you can’t imagine life without. The one who wipes your daughter’s runny nose without being asked. The one who broke a sweat putting your car seat into her car, just so you could ride together. The one who reminds you—you aren’t alone.

Maybe you need to say it to your sister, who you used to be so close with, and somehow have grown apart over the years. Maybe she feels you’re too busy with your own world, to enter hers. Maybe she doesn’t know that no one else in the universe can take her place, or make you feel like a kid again the way she does, or laugh the way she makes you laugh.

Maybe you need to say it to your mom, who feels you are too grown up for her now, or that you are too modern for her now, and that you don’t need her 80’s and 90’s advice–because you know better, when really you don’t. Because everyone needs a mom, no matter how much they deny it. And maybe she hasn’t felt needed by you for a very long time, not since putting on your diapers, and packing your lunches, and helping you pick out your prom dress–and she needs to hear you say those three little words that transform you back into the child she used to hold on her hip, the one one that used to lay her head on her chest when you were scared. You know you spent half your childhood calling out for her, even in the night, “Mom! Mom! Mom!” And maybe…she just longs to hear you say it again, “Mom, I need you.

And maybe you need to say it to your husband, who feels estranged from you, even in your own bed. Who lives in your house, but feels a million miles away some nights. Because you’ve gotten good at serving him, but you’ve forgotten how to be his friend. And maybe he just needs you to lay on the couch and watch a football game with him, or to watch a movie (he picked out) together, or to stay up late and play a game of cards at the kitchen table. Maybe you’ve forgotten how to laugh together, how to have fun. And you’ve forgotten, he didn’t marry you to do his chores, or to oversee his schedule, he married you to be his wife. To be his friend. And just like everyone else, he waits to be needed. So maybe tonight you need to roll to the middle of your bed and whisper those three little words, “I need you.”

Oh weary soul, where are your friends? Perhaps they are all in waiting, waiting to be needed by you. Waiting to hear, those three little words, “I need you.” And if you can say them, and mean them, I think you will find a beautiful exchange of grace waiting for you there–in this place called “friendship.”

“For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matt. 7:8) And when the door opens, I bet it will open faster, and stronger, and wider than you ever imagined. And when it does, and you’re just standing there on the porch, all you have to say, is three little words,

“I need you.”


Does Infertility Affect Friendships?


“So…do you guys think you might, I mean, someday, ever want to have kids?” My friend asks me as we play with her toddler on the floor. I see the curve of her belly, pregnant with their second. She doesn’t know we’ve actually been trying for over a year—with no success of conceiving. She doesn’t know I actually ache to be in her shoes. Swollen feet and all. “Oh, yeah,” I say, “We definitely want kids.” And I roll the ball to her toddler, trying to act as natural as possible.

Inside, I have no idea if I will be able to have kids. And I wonder if she knows, we’re trying. I wonder if she knows I would be a mom by now, if I could. And that as disheveled and chaotic as she feels, and as unattractive as she thinks she looks, with her postpartum curves—she actually looks incredibly beautiful to me. But I don’t know how to say this. Not today. 

My friend is sweet, and doesn’t press further. And I feel relieved when she doesn’t.


I was completely blindsided by it: infertility. I remember so naively waiting those two minutes for that first pregnancy test, feeling so sure it would be positive. I envisioned us jumping up and down in celebration. But instead, we just stood there. “Maybe it will just take a little while,” my husband said. “Yeah,” I tried to shrug off the disappointment, “Maybe.”

But month after month of trying to conceive, my period came back. And months turned into years of waiting. And crying. And praying. And wondering…

What was wrong with us?

All of our friends were on babies #2 and #3, but we could not get pregnant with one. As our friends’ families grew with new babies—it was just still just the two of us. As our friends traded in their cars for SUV’s and minivans, and turned offices into nurseries—we would walk by our extra bedrooms and pray God would fill them someday. Somehow.

Sometimes it felt like the world kept rushing past us, while we just stayed still, frozen in time. Waiting for God to move.

Now looking back on those years of waiting, I see God was moving the whole time. In fact, He did some of His best work in us during those years. And He did it, before I ever got pregnant. He opened my eyes to see. And instead of seeing my life as a barren wasteland of disappointment, I saw Him. I saw His beauty–and that though my womb was barren, my soul didn’t have to be. He began to make me alive in Him and began to birth something in me that would change the way I see forever.  (You can read more about my infertility story here.)

But what about in the meantime? How does infertility affect friendships between women? And if you are already a mom, how should you approach a friend who is possibly unable to conceive?

I can’t speak for other women—I only know my own experience with infertility—but here are a few ways women who are already mothers can honor their “childless” friends, whether they are “childless” by choice, singleness, or infertility.

1. Realize the Mommy Club can be slightly exclusive. Being a mom now for two and a half years, I have grown to love the Mommy Club. I love swapping labor stories, poop stories, and tantrum stories with other other moms, just to know I’m not alone in this. Motherhood is an incredible bond between women (even women who are just passing by in the grocery store!) But the “Mommy Club,” as wonderful as it is, can be a little exclusive at times to non-mothers, especially in the Church. And this often happens quite innocently. All the moms are laughing and going on and on, swapping war-stories from the mommy trenches, and raving about the best butt paste, and the non-mother has nothing to contribute except, “I babysat in high school once.” (Cricket, cricket.)

Now, this doesn’t mean you should drop your mom fellowship time. (Not at all!)  It’s just something to be aware of, so that you can love, and include, and value the woman who is not a mother, just as much as the one who is. And in order to do this, we as moms have to, “Look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).

2. Include Your Non-Mom Friends. I think many moms assume that “non-moms” would never want to come to a play date, or meet up at the mall when your kids are present.  But I loved when my friends would include me in things like this, without the prerequisite of being a mom. I’m so thankful for friends that invited me into their daily life at home with kids because this helped me see what it was like to be a mom, and made me desire to be a mom.

Although motherhood is a strong bond, it’s not the only bond women can have. For Christians hopefully there is a bond even stronger than motherhood, and that is being a part of God’s kingdom together. Being a daughter of God connects me to every other female in the body of Christ—whether she’s two, or twenty-two, or sixty-two. It’s a sisterhood that began long before I ever conceived my daughter. And it’s one that will need to exist while I raise my daughter, and long after she has a family of her own.

3. Be Sensitive In Approaching The Topic Of Infertility. If you are already a mom and curiously wondering if, or when your childless friend will ever have children, try to be patient. I never minded at all if someone asked, “Do you think you ever want to have kids?” It was what happened beyond that question. The moment you ask, “Well, are you trying?” You are pawing at a box she might not want opened—or hasn’t initiated opening, anyway. For your friend who is battling infertility, it might feel to her like you are going through her underwear drawer. It might feel like you are saying, “So..when are you gonna have kids? Are you having sex, or what? What birth control are you using? How long have you been off of it? Is he still wearing a condom? How’s your man’s sperm count? Is everything working down there with you two? Are you guys having enough sex?” (Whoa.) No, thanks.

Don’t let your curiosity get the best of you. Or your friendship. You may get the information you want, but you’ll damage the friendship. I think that the woman that is comfortable talking about her infertility, will talk about it. So let her bring it up.

And if she does share intimate details with you, honor her in that. Be very careful not to gossip about anything she shares with you. (That means not telling anybody she hasn’t specifically told you to tell.) This comes down to simply loving your infertile friends, being patient with them, and learning how to honor them and uphold their privacy through the process.

4. Be Exceedingly Thankful To Be A Mom.  It’s especially difficult for women who could never conceive, or lost every child in miscarriage to hear women gripe and complain about being a mom. It’s true that motherhood has intense challenges, sleepless nights, and can at times make you feel like you are totally losing it. But, for the Christian, we are called to battle back with joy and gratitude and reliance on the Holy Spirit.

Complaining and grumbling not only steals your joy and darkens your perspective, but it can make the hearts of others ache, too. So be joyful in your mothering, knowing that others are watching and listening. You might be afraid that if you “enjoy” your motherhood too much in front of “childless” women, you will cause them pain. However, I think the opposite is true. Your grumbling causes them pain, not your joy. So be exceedingly joyful in your motherhood, and if, or when they get to enter motherhood they will be more likely to be joyful in it, too.

5. Be Available For Your Infertile Friends.  The longer a woman, or couple experiences infertility, the more likely they will be to open up about it. And if they open up to you, give them the encouragement they need. Pray for them, comfort them with Scripture, and remind them that God is lovingly leading their life together. We were very private about our struggle with infertility, but the few people we did open up to provided such a source of comfort and strength to us during the process.

Infertility Doesn’t Have To Break A Friendship
As Christians, we have this amazing opportunity to love each other. The seasons of our lives don’t always line up perfectly with each other. And although some friendships may drift while others thrive, let’s let it be because of the leadership of the Holy Spirit. And not because of the anger, bitterness, and jealousy of an infertile couple. Let’s not let friendships be broken by prying questions, or gossip, or because we were too selfish to look past ourselves.

I think something really beautiful happens when people from different seasons of life are both vulnerable and strengthening to each other. Titus 2 talks about how within the body of Christ we all need each other.  So, wherever you are at, whether you are in a house filled with the cries and screams of little children, or you are praying desperately for a miracle in your womb, or you are a grandmother, or you are a single person who is traveling the globe, let’s love each other. Because before any of us were mothers, we were daughters. We were sisters. We were children, born into the Kingdom of God and saved by the blood and mercy of Jesus Christ. The One whom we love, and live for.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3).

This post was first published on Loving My Lot as a guest post I wrote for author/blogger Jeanne Harrison. Be sure to check out Jeanne’s other posts, like Mom vs. Mom: The War I Didn’t See Coming, and her new blog turned book, “Loving My Lot”, which you can purchase by clicking on the picture link below!


Photo Credit: D’Attoma Studios