A Bad Moment Doesn't Have to Become a Bad Day

A Rough Start
My alarm went off at 5:30am, and due to an 8:30 bedtime the night before, I actually felt somewhat rested (even though the baby was up 3 times).  I crawled out of bed and did the shortest but most effective self-care activities I could manage before coffee, which included putting on jeans and washing my face.  With the house still quiet, I crept to the kitchen to brew a hot pot of coffee before my husband left for work.

This was shaping up to be a great morning - it had all the marks of success.
At 6:00am I had a Skype meeting with my sister-in-law for our podcast, which was fun.  She, my husband and I had some lighthearted conversation, and I was hopeful for progress on our projects.  We started checking things off our to-do list when I heard a door opening down the hall.  Shortly after, two grumpy, bleary-eyed twins were standing in front of the Skype window.  Within minutes, they were fighting over a toy hammer and screaming at a pitch that shouldn't be allowed before 9:00am.  Naturally, this woke up my oldest son.

Before 6:40am, my three oldest children were milling around at my feet.  I kept moving the laptop from room-to-room, hoping to finish a sentence in our meeting without having to say, "hold on".  I felt like I'd been invaded.  A television show helped for a few minutes until their morning hunger incited whines that I couldn't ignore.  The meeting would have to be finished another time.

At 7:00am, I make them all cinnamon swirl toast with cut up banana.  But this was not good enough.  Each of them said, "I no want it." (but I was in no mood to be a short-order cook).  "This is what we're having.  If you don't like it, don't eat it."

By 7:45am I'd been up for over two hours, and realized I hadn't eaten anything.  But before I could scarf down some toast, the baby wanted to nurse.  Eventually, I had a few moments to eat a disappointing and unhealthy breakfast and pour my 3rd cup of coffee (did I actually drink the other cups?  I can't remember now).
This morning, which was supposed to be restful, wonderful, quiet and productive had turned noisy, needy, and difficult.  
When I regrouped after breakfast, I found myself wondering, "Does this have to be the start of a bad day?"

3 Things to Remember When the Day Starts off Badly
I'm a sucker for letting hard moments define my day.  If the enemy can get me started off on the wrong foot, I'm pretty quick to keep walking down that path.  I quickly give into "survival mode" at the first sign of a struggle.  But on this particular morning, I stopped myself and thought through the following things:

1.  A bad moment doesn't have to make a bad day.  
I tend to be the type of person who gives up on healthy eating quickly, because if I "splurge" and have a bad snack, I give up the rest of the day and say, "Oh well, I'll start again tomorrow".  But once, someone told me, "You don't have to throw the whole day away just because you messed up..." and the same thing is true for my hard moments. In Christ, I'm a new creation.  I'm a redeemed creature with a forgiving God and the Holy Spirit inside me.  Just because I reacted wrongly or experienced a few hard moments, doesn't mean I have to continue walking in that throughout the day.  My hard moments don't define me.  I can repent, seek refuge in God, ask for wisdom, pray and regroup.  That won't necessarily change my circumstances, but it can change my outlook.

2.  It's never too late to have time with the Lord.  
Just because my children woke up earlier than I'd planned (as I was hoping to get my meeting finished and have time in God's word before I was greeted by sleepy faces) didn't mean I couldn't open my bible that day.  While I have a million things I like to use my "after breakfast cartoon-time" for, on this particular day, it was evident that the dishes needed to wait.  The word of God and prayer are powerful, and having alert children in the other room didn't mean I couldn't open my bible.  In fact, I hope they have many memories of a mommy who was meeting with Jesus in the everyday moments.

3.   I don't want to be a mommy-martyr.  
Who wants to be around someone who has a pity-party every time things don't go their way?  Is that who I want to be?  Someone who whines and complains (just like my children) when events don't play out according to my preferences?  No!  I want to be a person who recognizes that God is ultimately in charge, and this is about his will, not mine.  I want to model joy and contentment, even in the face of less-than-ideal moments.  Besides, the bible says that my children are a blessing.  It might not always feel that way, but I want my thoughts to be defined by truth, not my selfish obsession with personal convenience.

A Grace-Filled Day
So, did my day snap-to-attention and suddenly afford me all the comforts I hoped for?  No.  But maybe my heart wasn't so quick to give up after that.
  • It might be winter outside, but it doesn't have to be cold inside.
  • My children might whine and complain, but I don't have to.
  • I might be tempted to reflect my children's attitudes, but I want to let Jesus control me (not my 2 year olds).
  • There might not be anything "fun" or "special" on our calendar, but that doesn't mean I can't view our lives as a gift.
Are you there with me?  Do you ever have a hard morning, only to throw your hands in the air and "give up" for the day?  Basking in how hard you have it and how much no one understands?  If this is you (as it usually is me), remember that in Christ, we have eternal and unquenchable hope.  We aren't defined by other people, we are defined by Jesus.  We are a part of a bigger story, a bigger mission, and a greater plan.
These moments aren't trivial, they are the moments that make up our life.  They are the moments that God is using to shape us more into the image of his Son.
So stop and let God change you as his truth renews your mind.  A bad moment doesn't have to become a bad day.

Risen Motherhood Episode 5: Marriage & Motherhood

In this episode: Emily and Laura discuss common issues and challenges that moms face in marriage, including encouragement for investing in our most important earthly relationship.  Whether through date nights, physical touch, or just staying on the same team, a thriving marriage glorifies God (and blesses your children).

Show Notes: 

Blog Posts, Articles and Books:
Emily Blog Posts:
Laura Blog Posts: 
For More:
  • To subscribe: on iOS, go to our iTunes page and subscribe. On Android, click this podcast RSS feed link and select your podcast app. You may need to copy the link into your favorite podcast app (like this one).
  • Leave an iTunes review. These are huge for us! The more reviews, the greater chance another mother will find us.
  • Like Risen Motherhood on Facebook and follow on Twitter for the latest updates and related information.
  • Let us know your thoughts! We'd love to hear more about the conversations you're having. Shoot us and email, or find us on on social media.
  • Tell others. We truly hope this podcast fosters conversations and deeper discussions between mothers to seek the gospel in their daily activities - we'd be honored if you shared and encouraged others to listen in.

Next week’s podcast: A devotion to encourage moms in their mission.

Risen Motherhood Episode 4: Gospel Instruction For Young Children

In this episode: Emily and Laura discuss the beginning stages of sharing the gospel with your young children, and some of the common challenges. They will share practical ideas for getting started and making it work for your family.

Show Notes: 
Emily Blog Posts:
Laura Blog Posts: 
For More:
  • To subscribe: on iOS, go to our iTunes page and subscribe. On Android, click this podcast RSS feed link and select your podcast app. You may need to copy the link into your favorite podcast app (like this one).
  • Leave an iTunes review. These are huge for us! The more reviews, the greater chance another mother will find us.
  • Like Risen Motherhood on Facebook and follow on Twitter for the latest updates and related information.
  • Let us know your thoughts! We'd love to hear more about the conversations you're having. Shoot us and email, or find us on on social media.
  • Tell others. We truly hope this podcast fosters conversations and deeper discussions between mothers to seek the gospel in their daily activities - we'd be honored if you shared and encouraged others to listen in.
Next week’s podcast:  Marriage & Motherhood

*Affiliate links used where appropriate. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this podcast.

Maintaining Your Marriage in the Mundane

More Than A To-Do List
The original version of this article was full of tips.  A list of to-do's that have helped my husband and I through busy, difficult and tiring stages of having small children.  It seemed pretty simple: if you just do A, B, and C, then you will keep your marriage healthy.

But months passed since writing that, and life with four became more challenging.  We weren't able to accomplish all of our "A, B, C's" or our perfect idea of what marriage maintence looked like.  Those dates we promised to go on with some regularity were shortened and changed by a nursing baby that wouldn't take a bottle.  The idea of going out of town for an extended trip together is more unrealistic with 4 kids under 4.  Even watching a movie is rare, now that we share our bedroom with a baby crib and can barely keep our eyes open past 9:30, especially if a screen is playing.

Even so, our marriage isn't writhing in discomfort as much as it could be.  Yes there are days and moments where connection is difficult, but overall, we are committed companions who enjoy a deep relationship with one another regardless of the season.

Attitudes That Promote Health & Growth 
So what is it that helps us maintain and even grow in this busy season of life?  Well, it's much more than a few simple to-do's.  Here are some attitudes that have helped me:

Remembering how much the Church should adore Christ:
When I have moments of feeling stale or just distant, I take a while to meditate on the love the Church has (or should have) for Jesus.  The great bride listens to, worships, obeys, submits, and joyfully carries out the mission of her Bridegroom.  The church is made lovely by Jesus, and is happy to be in his presence always.  The church doesn't (or shouldn't) groan under the leadership and authority of Jesus, but should come under it with passion and zeal.  While the parallel is just an image, and isn't a perfect picture of marriage (because husbands aren't perfect like Jesus, nor do they have Ultimate headship), it's a reminder of how much I should love my husband as an earthly bride.  Sometimes even this thought reignites passion and intimacy when I remember what our relationship points to.

Choosing to connect, even when I'm tired:
You know those moments when you can do something, but you're tired and resist it?  Maybe it's a conversation when you just want to be "off duty" for the day.  Maybe it's a chance to do an activity together, but you really want to just browse the internet or read a book.  Maybe it's an opportunity to serve, but you're worn out from serving all day and you seemingly can't stomach anymore.  But those are the moments where our choices can draw us closer or pull us apart.  Just recently, my husband wanted to tell me all the details of his day.  Although I usually welcome this type of chatty talk, on that particular night, I had visions of taking an epsom salt bath and falling asleep before 9:00.  But I also saw that I had a choice to make.  Picking my own thing over our conversation would communicate, "I don't care what you have to say." Likely stifling similar conversations in the future.  So instead of taking my bath, I sat and listened (even though my eyes were heavy and gently closing), and I'm confident it was a worthwhile investment.

Believing the best:
One thing that has helped my relationship with my husband immensely is my perception of his intentions.  When I was a new bride, I remember being easily offended by my husband's actions.  If he was late from work and forgot to call, I assumed he wanted to avoid me and took it personally.  If he committed to something that took time away from us, I assumed it was because he cared about this other thing more than me.  If he forgot to do something I asked, I thought he was purposefully putting off the activity.  But time and grace has softened me and given me a truer perspective.  These days, I honestly and wholeheartedly believe that my husband loves me and our family.  I believe that his intention is to pursue me, be a godly leader to our family and take good care of our needs.  I believe that when he makes decisions, he considers the impact on his flock at home.  When my perspective of him is shaped by these beliefs, I find that I'm not very easily offended.  If he's late for dinner, it still might be inconvenient, but it's not a personal assault to our relationship.  I'm much more likely to empathetically ask, "Is everything okay at work?  Did you have a hard meeting?"  This attitude keeps us on the same team, working toward the same end - not opponents.

This one seems unromantic on the surface, but it's the thing that makes us swoon in all the love stories.  True love endures and keeps saying yes, pressing forward and fighting for the relationship against difficult odds.  Think of any chick flick you enjoy, and likely there's a story of a couple (or a person) fighting to be together.  We have this longing in our hearts because the God of the universe, the great lover of our soul, pursued us at the most difficult cost even when we weren't interested.  This serves as a model to us, even when our relationship isn't meeting our perceived needs.  A great covenant love is one that keeps pressing forward and being faithful, even when it's hard.

Follow The Example of Christ
These aren't clean and easy tips or to-do's, and they aren't accomplished with a few babysitters or a weekend amidst palm trees (although those things are amazingly wonderful).  These are ideals, values, character traits and beliefs about the core importance of marriage.  It's not an extensive list (I didn't even talk about doing spiritual things together like serving, praying or studying scripture - also important), but it's a place to start.

So if you have young kids and you're feeling the pressure to pull away, become complacent or just ignore your marriage - resist!  Remember how much the Church is to love Christ, how you won't regret the connection, how you know deep down your husband cares for you, and how you can model God's love as you remain faithful to your covenant.  These things can not only mean survival, but a marriage that passionately thrives amidst diapers, night wakings and long seasons of disciplining toddlers.

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