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Hi, friend!

Welcome to The Big Family Home! I’m Amy. I like talking with God, candles, magazines, movie nights, the beach, big cities, big ideas, quaint little towns, and pretty much anything new. I am a wife and a mom of six kids who is trying to evolve into the calm, confident person I want to bring to my dinner table every night.

How I Realized I was Making the Wrong Sacrifices as a Mom

How I Realized I was Making the Wrong Sacrifices as a Mom

One day a couple years ago, my husband came home from work and dropped a bombshell on me. It didn’t start out as a bombshell; in fact, it started like every other evening. He came home, asked me how my day was, and I recounted every single hard thing that had happened with the kids just like I had been doing since there were 4 or more kids in the house. They fought in the car, I had to pull over, we ran out of school snacks and I had to make an emergency stop at the dollar store, somebody was late for soccer, someone got disciplined for rolling their eyes, etc. etc.

And he looked me right in the eyes and said, “I’m sorry our life has sucked all the joy out of you. I miss seeing you smile.”

It was a statement that made me furious, which just further accentuated the lows I had hit. But I’m thankful he said it, because it was the first time I really faced the fact that I had hit a season of total burnout after having our sixth baby in ten years. I had lost almost every bit of joy in motherhood.

And here is the hardest part of mom burnout: it took me another two years to get to a place where I could even make one baby step towards recovering, because even breathing took so much energy {I’ve heard this is normal}. I could barely muster the energy to get out of bed every day, make all the breakfasts and lunches, and carry on with the rest of the responsibilities of the day. But it was necessary to press on, so I was keeping up with the chores and losing myself more every day.

Finally, after a couple of years of knowing the reality of the situation and not being able to do much about it, I decided I could make one small change. That one small change proved to be the most pivotal decision I made in my journey from feeling totally depleted and burned out to finding myself again.

I started waking up fifteen minutes earlier than usual, so that I could spend that time reading my Bible and journaling. At first, that 15 minutes felt like I was waking up an entire day earlier. Oh man, I was SOOOOO sleepy…really all I could do was light a smell-good candle and read one verse and pray that God would bless my meager efforts.

But after a while, I noticed that I was able to make better use of those few minutes, adding a few more verses and having a couple thoughts to offer up to Him. And slowly, I was even able to add more time by waking up a bit earlier!

So one day, after almost a year of these early moments with God; I poured my heart out about an argument I had had with my husband the previous weekend. At one point I had said to Joel, “I have sacrificed my whole life for this family! I’ve sacrificed my hopes, my gifts, my body, my face (hello, Bell’s Palsy), and all my preferences.” So as I was writing about all this in my prayer journal, sure that God would affirm what a martyr I was, I sensed a response from Him that really took me off guard. In fact, it was so different than what I was looking for from Him that it took several hours for me to really hear it.

Several hours later, as I was jogging on the treadmill, I sensed Him saying to me YOU’RE MAKING ALL THE WRONG SACRIFICES.

Pardon me, God? I was sure I heard wrong. Aren’t mothers supposed to sacrifice themselves for the good of their families? Doing the dishes and washing the clothes are necessary, even though I’m terrible at housekeeping. Right, God? Stretch marks and extra pounds and crooked smiles were all part of that “momentary affliction” that reminded me of how fleeting this life is and kept me on my knees, right? Didn’t it make Him happy that I had basically stopped taking care of myself, so that I could keep up with the demands of caring for my family?

He answered me so gently. It went like this: I NEVER ASKED YOU TO GIVE YOURSELF UP. If you feel like you sacrificed your body, remember this: you’re still living. Get moving and do something to make yourself feel better, because the only body I required as a sacrifice was given 2000+ years ago. Yes, you shared your body with the people you love for nine months at a time, and that was a gift I gave to you. BE THANKFUL. There are people in your own town who would give twenty years off their lives to be able to share their body with a baby and see that baby’s face when he/she is finally born! And I have favored you and allowed you to spend 53 months of your life sharing your body and being close with those six people in a way that nobody else ever will. That body you think you sacrificed was not going to look the same at 39 as it did at 19, whether it carried all those kids or not! Youth is fleeting, and there’s a different beauty that comes with age and experience. Embrace it.

But God, what about my gifts and dreams? I felt like I had sacrificed all of them, too. Every single day had turned into the same uphill climb of picking up toys, scrubbing dishes, browning greasy hamburger meat, and driving kids to activities. It wasn’t how I envisioned things turning out. I used to be smart, God! I used to have helpful things to say and be able to complete a task from start to finish, and I’ve sacrificed all of that at the altar of a never-ending sea of dishes and diapers and dirty clothes. People used to admire me for my work and wish things came as easily to them as it did to me; what happened? And His answer came back: THEY STILL DO. THOSE PEOPLE ARE YOUR CHILDREN. This season is short, and you won’t always be drowning in dishes and laundry. And also, you are the only one in this season expecting perfection. If you don’t want to do those things all day long, DON’T. I’m not putting that pressure on you; and I’d actually love for you to focus more on the gifts I gave you to serve others in a way that you enjoy. I’m proud of you for learning to work with your hands, but I never meant for you to do it endlessly. I give my loved ones rest.

“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for He grants sleep to those He loves.” Psalm 127:2

The best part came next. As I continued to wrestle with Him about the hardest parts of our lives and all the “things” I had given up, He showed me this.

For [you] are [My] masterpiece. [I] have created you anew in Christ Jesus, so [you] can do the good things [I] planned for [you] long ago. (Ephesians 2:10)

In other words, every hard moment is leading up to this masterpiece I am creating for you to serve the way I want you to serve. I’m not asking you to sacrifice your gifts; I allotted those gifts for you before the beginning of time to accomplish the good things I planned for you! You wouldn’t be able to carry them out without the experience of the hard work you’re doing now.

So what are the right sacrifices then?

“But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors Me. If you keep to My path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.” Psalm 50:23

“I will fulfill my vows to You, O God, and will offer a sacrifice of thanks for Your help.” Psalm 54:6

It was so much more simple than I was making it. JUST BE THANKFUL! Be thankful for the imperfect people who live in your house. Be thankful that they eat (on dishes), and that I’ve provided a Christian education for them (which requires them to wear clothes and you to drive them there), and given you a husband who gives you so much emotional support. It’s unfortunate that they all have to eat so often, but at least they trust you and rely on you to nurture them in that way! They don’t even like the fancy food you try to make for them, so put some noodles in a pot and open a jar of sauce and call it good. Be thankful that most of them go to school and you can exercise to feel better once you drop them off, and be thankful for the connections you have made with people across the country who also were afflicted by extreme stress and got Bell’s palsy. Your face is just fine, and I am pleased with you. You are the only one who is pressuring you to make all these “sacrifices.”

Maybe I’m the only one who was feeling all this pressure to be the right kind of mom or the right kind of person. Who was feeling like she had to sacrifice every part of her own personality in order to be someone who was pleasing to her family and God, and became an empty shell of a grouchy witch in the process. But just in case I’m not, I hope you’ll stop the striving and consider what you WISH you were doing. Chances are, if those deep desires have been there since you can remember and you’ve put them to the side to be a mother, He wants you to resurrect them. He gave those desires to you, and He will pave the way for you to accomplish them and draw strength and momentum from your forward movement! Press on, friend. He might never have asked you to make the sacrifices you have been making.

If I’m not the only mom who has ever felt like she sacrificed everything, and by chance you have experienced similar feelings, please tell me! We all need to hear that we are not alone in the uphill climb! You can comment below, email me, or find me on a Instagram.

Money-Saving Mini Post #2

Money-Saving Mini Post #2

My first Money-Saving Monday Mini Post!

My first Money-Saving Monday Mini Post!