Dear Mama, There is No Room for Fear


“There are 365 times in the Bible where it says to not fear, once for each day of the year,” so they say.  Do we realize that this is not merely a phrase meant to make us feel better?  Do we understand that “Fear not.” is a command?

This new life of motherhood changes the dimensions of our existence, particularly our weaknesses. As mothers, new fears assail us, stronger than we could have imagined before. Struggles we were unaware of now fill our minds. Then the fears work us over. 

“Fear not” is a strict command, especially for those of us in charge of other souls, because fear is a strong weapon that effectively prevents us from accomplishing The Master’s will.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear holds punishment, and he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”

‭‭Yoḥanan Aleph (1 John)‬ ‭4:18

The fears of motherhood are few, yet strong in the beginning. Then fear breeds upon fear in the false guise of love. Eventually, we find that we are constantly yelling at loved ones, and lashing out over little things. The unloving behavior towards our families is not rooted in hate. We may be frustrated, but hate? No, the root is fear. Once we identify the fear the Enemy is using against us, the tide of the battle has turned. From there we can fight with the Word, prayer, love, taking captive every thought.

When you find yourself enraged, ask, “What am I afraid of?” 

  • Being a bad mom?
  • Not being enough?
  • Going unnoticed?
  • Doing the wrong thing that propels your children into self-destruction?
  • Angering your community with your parenting choices?
  • Inability to get on the same page with your husband about your concerns?
  • Judgement from your family?
  • No one caring about your efforts?
  • Disaster taking your children from you?
  • Alienating your kids from you, yourself?
  • Causing unnecessary grief to your family?
  • Cursing them with your mistakes or evil past?
  • Burning up your life for nothing?
  • Exposing your children to family battle crossfire?
  • That if things don’t go your way, they can never come out right?
  • Never getting anything perfect?

 We mothers do have a responsibility for our children’s safety. Go set the boundaries. Teach the rules. Encourage good connections. Discourage bad company. Take precautions around that person who gives you a bad gut feeling. Become the repetitive voice of good sense that your kids will hear wherever they go. 

Beyond the practical action, though, our concerns turn into fear and have no benefit for our families nor ourselves. Ruminating on fears winds us up tightly, makes us irritable (fruit of the Spirit is patience) and causes us to make stupid decisions. Our words cut. Our tempers flare. Our impulses inflict chaos. Our families hide.

Fear destroys.

The above bullet points of fears may seem to come from a place of love, but they don’t. It is a distrust of the One Who is Love. The King of the Universe came up with the idea of our children. He created them and knows their every detail, down to each hair on their heads. Jehovah loves them, more than even a mother. He gave up his only perfect child to secure our babies’ eternal lives. Our children may get hurt, we may fail them, they may choose their destruction, or tragedy may take them from us; but The One Who created all things is doing everything, even delaying the Kingdom of Heaven, to ensure that these precious children will have every opportunity to choose an eternity of His goodness. We must assist Him and drop the fears that have held us back from being the mothers God intended us to be.

Seek Him out, and let YHWH flood you with His love. Keep your eyes on the eternal. Let yourself love God first, and He will guide your every step in His grace.

We are women, mothers, warriors, guardians and caretakers of the weak, servants of the Most High. The battle is on. There is no room for fear. 

This post is one of a series titled, “Dear Mama.”

Dear Mama, Who Thinks I Don’t See

You stride over in the midst of a public event to get a peek. My twin car seats and cute toddler dancing around command a lot of attention like that. You ooh and ah, asking about age, gender, giving a compliment or two. As we talk, you learn that all my children were premature but turned out fine. I am blessed, they grow so fast, enjoy it while I can, you advise me. 

You think I don’t see the quiet pain under your smile. There’s a sad soreness on your shoulders, like your arms ache for someone. Horrific memories flash over your eyes. Your ears still strain to hear a voice that never was. This sort of grief feels isolated from the rest of reality, but I see. It’s the same for me.

As full as my arms are now, they still ache for the one I couldn’t keep. I still fight the flashbacks when I smell the sterile odor of a hospital. It is now easier to cope with the shrieking silence of cries that should have been there, now I have three other voices in my house. Still, there are moments when I struggle to breathe. Then there are the questions when I see that another baby with the same condition, same weight, or same gestation was able to survive. Why not mine?

I wish I could hug you, tell my story, listen to yours, and cry a while. What was his name? How old? Did he look like you? What do you treasure most of his memory? I want to know. 

Time and place do not permit such interaction. I go on tending to my blessings. You dab your eyes in a corner across the room and move on. We may never meet again. 

All I can do is pray for you and hope for the days when our grief ends. You may believe that I don’t know how good I’ve got it.

But I see.

This post is one of a series titled, “Dear Mama.”

Dear Mama, Who is Going on a Trip

Panic! Anger! Frustration!

And you STILL forgot something important!

Yelling! Whining? Moping.

Does this sound like the morning of your departure when you pack up the family to go on a trip? The chaos tends to make the whole house dread going anywhere. It doesn’t have to be this way. You can keep your cool and settle into the front seat with a smile as you begin your adventure. Since I’m not sure precisely how to best adapt my preparation methods to your needs, I’ll just give you the rundown. You can figure out what works for you.

With three 3×5 cards, I have learned to avoid the travel frenzy. We may still be 25 minutes behind our plans, because I’m still learning how long it takes to load three little ones. However, we still have everything we need when we stay overnight six hours from home. Best of all, I can avoid that out-of-control frustration that can bring a cranky mama to a full, roiling boil.

Like most simple techniques that make my life easier, this is a method taken from the FlyLady. I have a notebook with addresses, basic routines, encouraging words, and a few recipes slapped together. In the midst of my book, there are my Travel Prep cards. The cards are basically my packing checklists. One is for arrangements, one is for my husband and me, and one is for the babies.

On the first card I have written:

  • Clothes cleaned and put away
  • House in order
  • Groceries to take along (to save a little money and health usually blown on gas station snacks and fast food.)
  • Maps printed
  • Hotel confirmation number
  • Check vehicle tires, filters, oil, fuel, wash, wipe interior
  • Polish/brush shoes
  • Wash sheets/fresh linens on the bed
  • Wash dishes

Having things in order helps make our “landing” at our destination and our “landing” back home much smoother! Obviously, I don’t always get it all down pat. I do, however, consider each chore and choose what I will leave undone. That way, things are not neglected from forgetfulness, but the least necessary tasks for this particular trip will be moved to the bottom of my “triage” on purpose. Already been to this destination? Skip printing the map. One basket of towels on the couch needs folded but there’s little time to do it? Okay. A formal event calls for nice shoes? Polish them. Really want clean sheets to collapse into when you get back home? Strip and make that bed to have it ready for you!

On the next card are the items that we need to pack for my husband and myself. These are items we usually need when we stay someplace overnight. For me, I have listed:

  • Pajamas
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Number X of complete outfits
  • Stockings
  • Dress shoes
  • Swim suit
  • Phone
  • Wallet
  • Charger
  • Earbuds
  • Lip balm
  • Oils
  • Brush & Paste
  • Hairbrush
  • Pins/hair bands
  • Deodorant

Again, I read through and decide what is necessary. No pool? Skip the suit. Going to church with the friends you’re visiting? Grab the dress shoes and stockings.

Extra things to be sure my husband remembers to take include:

  • Deck of Cards
  • Dress hat
  • Dress boots
  • Radios

Now for the babies. This list I made when the eldest was a year old. For now, this works for all three kids. As they mature, I’ll make a new card.

  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Formula
  • Bottles
  • Bottle warmer (Rabbit Trail: I thought this thing was ridiculous before we had twins and were spoiled with the $2,000 Medela bottle warmers at the hospital. Our own $20 warmer makes feeding two babies within one hour an attainable goal wherever we go.)
  • Sippy cup
  • Bowl/spoon
  • Cereal/food cartons
  • Bibs/burp cloths
  • Number X of outfits
  • Sleepers
  • Blankets
  • Socks
  • Dress shoes
  • Diaper cream
  • Oils!
  • Jerky (No Man’s Land Beef Jerky is a teething lifesaver!)
  • Toys
  • Jacket & Hat
  • Pack ‘N Play or portable bassinet
  • Car seat (This can be forgotten if we’re rushing next door to borrow a vehicle. Then it is wasted time running back to our house for the car seat!)
  • Stroller
  • Wrap/carrier

Again, these are things I need to consider every time we leave overnight. These cards help me make decisions about what is left undone or left at home, instead of running crazy and forgetting to grab something vital for our trip.

About three days out from departure, I begin skimming the Travel Prep cards. I consider who will wear what and when. We make reservations. When I make my usual grocery run, I get the extras we will need. Between regular chores and feedings those three days, I can get everything packed and ready by the night before we leave.

Another thing I love to do for travel is to pack small. I grew up watching Rick Steves’ travel shows and enjoyed the easy mobility of his simplicstic  approach. Some like to take the kitchen sink for security, but I like the security of being able to move swiftly. Now we are a family of five, compact travel makes an even greater difference!

For a weekend venture, I can fit my husband’s things, my stuff, and the babies’ outfits into one duffle bag. We all have clothes for each day and an emergency outfit in case of a horrendous spill. I keep a toiletry bag packed at all times, so I can throw it in the duffle and be done with it – no time wondering where to fit the toothpaste. The babies’ essentials are in their diaper bag, as usual. The toddler’s clothes fill the empty spot in her diaper bag. Then I have my catch-all bag for my purse, books, electronics, or whatever I’ll need while riding shotgun. This comes out to four bags, four big things we need to remember to grab in the morning. There is very little scrambling for odds and ends.

Most importantly, I must pray. It is easy to center these lists on myself, my plans, my perfectionism, and my pride. Despite the best travel methods, focus on the flesh like this can still destroy peace for the whole family and cause unnecessary grief. Instead, I must focus on using these tools to facilitate my service to the rest of the family. I must pray and remain in the presence of  The Perfect One, who extends grace to the tarnished. From there, He can empower me to extend His grace to my family, regardless of how well they “get with the program.”

Well, fellow Traveling Mama, I hope this spiel can provide you with some handy ideas. If the details are overwhelming, just pick five to-dos for your next trip and see how that works. With some forethought and attitude adjustment, packing up the family can be a peaceful affair, after all!

This post is one of a series titled, “Dear Mama.”

Dear Mama, Who Wonders why Kids are like This

Always. Kids seem to need to talk and cuddle the most when you are just trying to get something simple accomplished. When you’re trying to get them dressed, get them out the door, or into and out of the car, they seem to think it’s family time. If they aren’t directly asking for a hug, they’re asking for the attentions that require the most effort. They melt down when your limited time clashes with their emotions of the moment. Trying to get them to eat or get ready for bed feels like paddling upstream (up-river, at times) when they chatter for eons and beg for little nothings. Why do these little people have to be so difficult?!

I think they are designed for it.

 “Hear, O Yisra’ĕl: יהוה our Elohim, יהוה is one! “And you shall love יהוה your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your being, and with all your might. “And these Words which I am commanding you today shall be in your heart, and you shall impress them upon your children, and shall speak of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up,”

‭‭Deḇarim (Deuteronomy)‬ ‭6:4-7‬ ‭

Though selfishness might need discipline according to their age in these moments, children are designed to draw closer to you at these times. When you’re waking, going to sleep, coming and going, or sitting to eat, I believe these are the perfect times to instruct our children in the ways of our Creator. It’s actually a blessing, when you think about it.

I haven’t mastered the practical applications as of yet. So far, I am making a point to remember these words when I feel rushed, and making time to communicate at these junctures. If this is the time I am supposed to teach my children about our Heavenly Father, do I have the proper attitude to facilitate that responsibility? I wonder if the children are seeing the Fruits of the Spirit in me, or just another grumpy whiner. Am I behaving as a leader, or as a fellow tantrum thrower? This frame of mind can cool my temper in a hurry. Currently, I am making habits to communicate love first thing in the morning and at bedtime. I pray blessings over each child, give a hug and greeting just for them, and ask questions.

One night, the toddler couldn’t get to sleep. Frustrating as it was at first, I took a moment to hold her and wondered how to tell her about the One Who loves her most and never leaves her alone. A star glittered outside her window, so I showed it to her and told her about the One Who put it there. She may be too young to grasp my meaning, but she calmed down in response to my attitude as I spoke of something reverent, loving, and secure. Kids pick up on our words faster than we can realize, so I think it will be good to practice conversations like this beforehand.

So that is my thought. Why do kids demand attention at these times? It’s by design, and for good reason. So let’s take advantage of this stage while we can, Dear Mama.

This post is one in a series titled, “Dear Mama.”

Dear Mama, Who just Gave Birth

I’m sorry that you can’t go home soon enough, that your baby can’t be discharged yet, that everyone is demanding answers from you when you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck, that your labor didn’t go as well as hoped, that breastfeeding and pumping are hard, that you don’t have much support, that you aren’t bonding as you had hoped, that someone didn’t treat you kindly, that you are in pain, that your hormones are whacked… whatever has saddened you after that initial joy of birth, I’m sorry.

Even if a lot of bad things did not happen during birth, post-partum recovery can still stink. After my first successful pregnancy and birth, it seemed like everyone else was enjoying my new bundle while I was left to endure misery on my own. I told myself, and others told me, that a healthy baby is all that matters. That may be the most important thing, but mom’s blues matter, too. Perhaps no other human will understand your emotional and mental state right now.

The heart knows its own bitterness, And no stranger shares its joy. Proverbs 14:10

‭It is very difficult to talk and find someone who will only listen to your feelings without interrupting or explaining your needs away. Though they mean well, your loved ones may make you feel as though your feelings don’t matter…that you don’t matter.

It hurts.

However painful, though, this is the fire that will temper your strength for the years to come. You will need to tend to many of your needs by yourself, now. Your healing will be up to you. So keep taking care of yourself physically and the feelings will eventually heal, as well.

With a little one depending on you, it is important to take care of yourself first. They say that if there is an emergency on a plane, adults must first put on their own oxygen masks, so that they can remain conscious and help their children with their masks, too. For baby’s sake, please take a few minutes to freshen up every day. Then you will have the sanity to tend to baby’s needs for those continuous hours.
What does taking care of yourself look like? This is my self-care regimen that I do after the first daylight feeding and before “bedtime” at night. Whether I feel normal or down, am pregnant or recovering from surgery, I do these things daily to be sure I am cared for, before I face all the other needs clawing for attention.

  • Wash your face. Grime, sweat, yick, be gone. I splash water over my face, flush the dirt and germs out of my eyes and nose (prevents frequent colds and allergies), and pat dry. This takes ten seconds.
  • Brush your hair. Simply running a comb through and refreshing your ponytail helps you feel more put together.
  • Brush your teeth. If you’re an attachment mom, it’s still okay for baby to whine for two minutes while you take care of your oral hygiene. You might need to spend your money on baby’s braces someday. Don’t waste cash on your own dental issues, when you can simply prevent damage with a toothbrush. I recommend fluoride-free toothpaste.
  • Apply deodorant. I prefer Thai Crystal spray, because it has no aluminum.
  • Take medication, vitamins, and/or apply oils. This, I have to do to manage my thyroid issues. RAW Garden of Life vitamins help me feel much better.
  • Put on something that makes you feel good. Whether it’s a favorite pair of earrings, a nice lotion or perfume, a pretty scarf, or a quick dab of makeup, find something you like and use it. I put on some lip balm or gloss.
  • Sticky notes on my mirror remind me to do these things every day, saying, “face, hair, teeth” and “balm, oils, deodorant.” When establishing a routine, these written reminders are vital.

I don’t worry about getting dressed when we first bring baby home. We mamas need some upkeep, but staying in pajamas for those first days gives your unconscious mind permission to nap at any moment. Visitors tend to behave more gently when they see you in sleep clothes, too. Then after a while, it will be time to apply a tad more maintenance to stave off the blues.

When I get to two weeks post-partum, I get dressed “down to shoes” every day, so I can be ready go or do anything at a moment’s notice. Need something out of the car? Is a dog trying to play rough with another critter outside? Do you have a moment’s notice that you can hitch a ride to town for groceries today? Dress for  the unexpected every day, and the unexpected will be powerless to stress you.

Keeping these habits has gotten me through college days; establishing my own household; recovering from a stillbirth, a vaginal birth, and a C-section surgery; and having my twins in NICU for five weeks. I mean it. Take care of yourself for a few minutes daily, and you can get through a lot.

Ultimately, my Heavenly Father carried me through every transition and crisis. Self-love alone does not help anyone much. By prayer, love of my Maker, caring for the body and soul He gave me, and loving my neighbors as myself, I got through. Though they aren’t my savior, these self-care routines have been instrumental in keeping my spirits high and my attention focused on the One Who matters most.

Well, Mama, I guess I’ll be talking to you again in about a week. You have done a good job, helping your little one grow and make it to the outside world. Now, take care of yourself!

*Thanks to Marla Cilley, the FlyLady, for her constant encouragement and inspiration.

This post is the first in a series called “Dear Mama.”

A New Series, “Dear Mama”

This past year has been a sparse time for blogging.  As much as I love writing, a twin pregnancy, a five-week stay at NICU, and the adjustment back home has kept my attention, with little mental focus to spare.

Now that I have settled with my new blessings, and there is another new mom in the family, my “heart-focus” has switched to another subject. So many, either by distance or bad relations, find themselves isolated while they learn to swim the waters of motherhood alone.

Thus, I am writing a new blog series called, “Dear Mama.” It will be a series of messages I would send to friends and relatives who are entering stages of motherhood that I have recently completed. These blog posts are just that – a blog. Very likely, my audience can be overwhelmed with expert advice from the experienced mothers in their lives, but for those who are feeling lonely in their motherhood, I hope this series will become a source of encouragement.

If anything, this will be something interesting for my daughter to read, one day.

Keep an eye out for the #DearMama tag, and I shall post the first installment shortly.