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  • Writer's pictureLisa Popcak

Updated: Feb 17, 2020

Today’s Momfidence moment is brought to you by the letter “P”.

The Sesame Street reference sprang to mind as I thought about what I want to share with you today.

I am very blessed to have a treasured friend who I am in touch with almost every single day even though we live thousands of miles apart. We are very close and we tend to lean on each other when this mom thing gets tough. We encourage each other and pray for each other on the daily through so many ups and downs.

Over the years we’ve developed a shorthand reminder to encourage each other that I want to share with you as well. It’s the phrase  “PRAYER and PROTEIN”.

This phrase has developed between us over the years as we began to realize that so many of our mothering struggles could be soothed by applying these two things to so many irritating situations.

“The kids are so whiny and uncooperative. They’re driving me nuts.”

“The kids are fighting with each other so much today!”

“After school pick up is such a grumpy time. I want us all to enjoy being together again, but it’s so unpleasant.”

“I’m just not in the mood to mom today.”

Comments like these, and so many others, would go back and forth between our daily text often. Then we began to see a common pattern. They happened mostly when one or all of us hadn’t had anything healthy to eat in a while, and they escalated when we tried to control it all in an attempt to demonstrate our dominant power over the obnoxious behavior coming from our kids, instead of prayerfully accessing the circumstances and asking for God’s grace and help.

But when we paused and gave everybody a healthy snack and a bit of time for the protein to kick in, everyone would begin to feel, act, and get along better. Sometimes the issue disappears completely. But if it doesn’t at least we feel better and are able to work it out with clearer heads.

Many of us as moms feel like we have to get our children under control when they aren’t behaving well and many times we end up not behaving so well in the attempt. Because when we as people (children or adults) don’t feel right we don’t act right. Sure there are many things that can cause us to not feel right, but the first and easiest step should be making sure everybody has had something healthy, that includes a protein, to eat before we try to look for other causes and correct behaviors and attitudes.

God himself gives us this model over and over again in the Bible.

Elijah grumbled to God that he was so miserable that he wanted to die. God gave him food and a chance to rest and Elijah felt better and was able to do as God asked.

The Israelites were grumbling in the desert so God fed them Manna.

Jesus fed people over and over and over again throughout his ministry because he knew that once people were fed they would feel well enough and calm enough to enter into relationship with him and be guided by him.

Jesus even made a breakfast of grilled fish for his disciples after his resurrection!

If God in all his perfect wisdom shows us how he took care of those he loved, why should we as imperfect moms mess with the system?

But, so often, we do. For instance, we tell ourselves that we don’t want our kids to “spoil their dinner” so we make them wait to eat and wonder why the dinner preparation time of the day becomes a nightmare. Yet a healthy afternoon snack could make that time far more pleasant because everyone is no longer “hangry”. If a healthy snack means they eat a smaller portion at dinner, we can be at peace and enjoy meal time together because they have already had healthy food.

Another example is when we use food as a reward for after completing something difficult. “You can have a snack after you finish your homework/clean your room/mow the lawn.” Then we wonder why we get a negative reaction, or the kids melt down in the middle of the task. Our minds often go to thoughts that our children are rebellious, disrespectful, or too strong willed. But they may just be running on empty and are out of balance because they haven’t had protein in awhile. Food shouldn’t be the reward at the end. It’s actually the fuel required beforehand that helps us do what we have to do.

I know a brilliant mom who, when one of her children comes to her in an emotional state with a complaint, will say, “Have a quesadilla and wait fifteen minutes. If you still feel this way we’ll talk about it then.” Ninety percent of the time the problem disappears.

Of course the other very important “P” is prayer. We as moms can often become reactionary to our children’s behavior. We can get cranky and angry and let our own pride drive away our wisdom. So it’s really important to take a moment and ask God to help us be the best mom we can be in that moment and for him to guide us and give us his wisdom in dealing with and discipling our (his) children.

While I’ve chosen to make this a habit throughout my day, I’ve found it really helps to do it with my children. A simple spontaneous prayer such as, “Lord we’re really in need of your grace and guidance right now. Some of us are cranky and irritable and aren’t behaving as we would like. Please show us what to do to make it better so we can love each other and you well, and so we can feel your love and our love for each other. Amen.” can be a real game changer in the midst of a difficult moment. God loves us so much and he really wants to help us. We just have to remember to ask and have an open heart to his guidance.

While of course not every problem is going to be solved with protein and prayer, these two things will help you be in a much better problem solving place then you would be without them. So the next time you find family members at odds with each other, have a protein filled snack, take a moment to ask for God’s help, and give yourselves a little time to feel better before you try to work things out.

Keep in mind the equation that my friend and I have discovered:

Protein + Prayer = Patience + Peace

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  • Writer's pictureLisa Popcak

“The perfect mom.”  “The perfect home.”

What images doe those phrases bring to your mind? We live in a time when media offers us offers us so many images of perfectly dressed, beautifully made-up moms with their impeccably dressed children, in gorgeous homes with beautifully decorated,

color-coordinated, sparkling clean rooms. In some ways these images are good because they can actually embolden us to cultivate talents and actions that may not come naturally to us. On the other hand, I talk to so many moms who end up feeling badly about themselves because, in their opinion, the outer appearance of their lives doesn’t measure up to all the images they see.

I remember feeling that way fairly frequently, when I first began homeschooling. I wanted to do a great job for my kids, help them love learning, cover everything thoroughly, and balance homemaking, being a wife and all the other things I needed to do. So I read a lot to learn all I could. One of the things I loved reading was “day in the life” stories by other homeschooling moms. But often it seemed like these moms could fit three days worth of perfection into the same 24 hours I was struggling to balance, and it often made me feel like not enough.

I would share my concerns with my husband and he would always tell me to remember to focus on the uniqueness of our family and not what other women did for their families, because I wasn’t mothering their kids or married to their husbands. It helped, but on the tougher days I would get down on myself for not “measuring up” to the standard that my mind created.

As I wrestled with this I saw a pattern emerge. The more I focused on doing all the things other moms did, the crankier and less emotionally available to I own family I became.

Then one day I read Col 3:12 - “Therefore, as chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, humility, gentleness, and patience.”

It did NOT say, “Clothe yourself in perfect matching outfits that you sewed yourself” or “perfect designer outfits from the latest collection.” It did NOT say “Clothe your home in decor so spotless and perfect that it looks like no one lives in it.”

Instead it tells us to focus on how we treat people. We are reminded that we are chosen, holy, and dearly loved and to treat others, including our own families, in a way that reminds them that they are too - with kindness, compassion, gentleness, and patience.

That is why I’ve chosen to aim for cozy not perfect. (Momfidence Principle 10) Cozy is defined as giving a feeling of comfort, warmth, and relaxation. It is kindness, compassion, gentleness and patience that bring about that sense of comfort, warmth, and relaxation.

Sure, a lovely setting helps aid in creating coziness. Warm blankets, hot drinks, candle light, soft music, and the like, set the stage as it were, for entering into that feeling, but it doesn’t create it. It’s the kindness, compassion, gentleness, and patience with which we treat others, and ourselves, that does.

One can have the loveliest, most cozily decorated home but if there is meanness, harshness, irritability, and disregard for the feelings of those under its roof, no sense of coziness or love will be experienced there.

One of the many stories I’ve heard that attest to this is an interview I heard many years ago with Chris Gardener Jr.  He was the son in the story “The Pursuit of Happyness”, a book that was later a movie staring Will Smith. Chris Gardner Senior and his son found themselves homeless for a time. They took shelter wherever they could including sleeping in a public bathroom for awhile. The story tracks Mr. Gardner’s story from these difficult circumstances to his becoming a multi-millionaire while all the while remaining a loving and dedicated parent.

During the interview Chris Jr was asked what it was like to be homeless as a child. He replied that he never really knew he was homeless because whenever he looked up he always saw the love and kindness in his father’s eyes, and he felt safe and at home in those eyes.

I’ve heard similar stories from other adults who spent part of their childhoods in very difficult settings but whose parents focused strongly on creating between them a relationship of gentleness, kindness, patience, and compassion.

I also know many, many people who grew up in picture perfect homes that broke their hearts because of the lack of kindness, patience, gentleness, and compassion they experience there.

In light of Col 3:12 my focus shifted. I know that my family is happier, more peaceful, and our home is more relaxing when I practice the precepts contained there, and I know I feel closer to them and to God as well.

Of course I still put effort into creating a clean, attractive, welcoming home, but it’s no longer a tyranny to me. For instance, if the kids leave a mess in the bathroom, I know it’s more important to be kind in my correction about it then to yell and scream about it. I get a clean bathroom but don’t wound my relationship with my child to get it.

Similarly, at the end of the day I’ll try to focus more on listening with a compassionate ear to the struggles my children are going through, rather than brushing past all that to deal with all the chaos of dinner and evening activities just to make sure it measures up to some imagined standard of what that time should look like.

Just as importantly, Col 3:12  gives my a new and more standard in how I deal with myself. When I start to have those “You don’t measure up. Your not good enough.” thoughts, I can now remind myself that I am “chosen, and dearly loved.”  God chose me to be my kids mom and He loves me and will give me the guidance I need to be the mom they need when I ask Him. 

I can also now ask myself if I’m being kind, patient, gentle, and compassionate toward myself. This question allows me to quickly see if I’m doing my best in that moment and particular circumstance. If I am, then I can give myself the grace that Col 3:12 calls for. If I’m not, then I can call myself on with kindness, gentleness, and compassion instead of ridicule and harshness.

I’ve found Col 3:12 extremely beneficial to me as a mom, and a true guide on my journey to be the mom my family needs. I hope it can bless you as a mom as well.

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  • Writer's pictureLisa Popcak

During the first weeks and months of the year we often want/ or feel pressured to change something or a lot of things.

•Get organized 

•Get fit

•Change eating habits 

•Take on new projects

•Improve a relationship 

•Change ourselves completely!

Some of these desires come from a great place and are truly good things for us. Sometimes they come from a place of lack or self condemnation, so they aren’t as good for us as they seem on the surface, and may produce bad fruit. It is important to pray about and evaluate these desires to determine what is right for us to take on.

Yet even the good changes, the ones God has placed on our hearts, can be difficult to take on or persevere in since we live and work with other people, and already live jam packed lives as mothers. Making desired changes can seem impossible because of all we already do, weakening our resolve and leaving us feeling frustrated with ourselves or our circumstances.

For me personally, one of these desired changes was exercise. While not my top priority, I do feel better when I get some exercise. It gives me energy and clears my mind. However I kept hitting roadblocks every time I tried to incorporate exercise into my daily schedule. 

First, the getting up earlier advice that one reads everywhere, did NOT work for me. Like most moms, I  often need to stay up late for various reasons. Yet my particular body requires at least seven or more hours of sleep to stay healthy. So, I have to prioritize sleep over exercise for my health and well being. Instead of getting up earlier I tried moving my workouts to later in the day. I found a workout I could do at home and began working out every weekday. Three things sidelined that, first there are weekdays I don’t get home until 11pm and I come home exhausted. Second, when I’m home with my family I don’t enjoy spending precious time away from them. Third, but most significant, is that my body kept having a weird reaction. I would get two or three weeks into my workout routine, and be feeling good, and then I would suddenly come down with some really bad illness. I suppose my body was releasing toxins, and because I have a complicated medical history these illnesses landed me flat on my back sick for weeks. Not enjoyable and not good for my family!

So for a long time I couldn’t figure out how to get the movement I wanted and needed without doing myself some kind of harm. I took it to prayer and while I didn’t get an immediate answer, I did begin to approach the problem from a different angle: What could I do that would fit into my schedule, make me feel like I wasn’t missing out on family time, and most importantly wouldn’t cause me to get sick?

Then one day as I was getting ready to start my live radio show More2Life, my engineer said “Thirty seconds” and my husband made a joke about how much we could get done in thirty seconds. He was right. Years of doing radio has taught me how very long thirty seconds really is. If your radio went silent, or your devices stopped streaming for thirty whole seconds you’d think something was radically wrong. And can’t thirty seconds seem like an eternity when you’re waiting for your coffee in the morning?

This gave me the idea to do the smallest thing I could do to begin meeting my goal - a thirty second plank every thirty minutes throughout the day using my phone as a reminder and timer. I know that may sound puny and ridiculous, yet it met my criteria and would give me a chance to work up slowly in an attempt to avoid my previous reactions. It was also better than doing nothing.

After two weeks without getting sick, I increased it to a minute plank every thirty minutes. Then I increased it to a minute and a half every thirty minutes, and when that was going well I started adding sets of v-ups or donkey kicks. It only takes me two and a half minutes, every thirty minutes on the two to four days I can fit it into my schedule. On the days I can’t, I fit it in as best I can with intention but extreme flexibility. 

I also use the planking time to turn my mind and heart to God. I thank him for giving me the miracle of the health and the strength to do it ( something I didn’t always have), and ask him to help me serve him well and know and love Him better. I leave that time feeling energized, instead of spent from over doing, and able to take on the next section of time until my alarm reminder vibrates again. It’s helped me realize that not all change requires huge amounts of time or radical life shifts. Change can be made in tiny doable steps.

Let’s look at how to apply this idea to some changes we often want to make.

Getting organized:  Organizing is usually most successful when a big project is completed all in one go. I did this myself after visiting family left after the holidays. Necessity is often the mother of organization for me. Since our family is in a state of growth, I needed to sort things out and make room for all the new sheets, blankets, pillows, towels, and such that we need now. But the coming few months are chock full of commitments that won’t leave me a lot of time for more organizing. 

So now I’m considering applying this "tiny bits of time" approach to the other organizing I’d like to do. For instance, taking the contents out of a drawer and then for one or two minutes an hour sorting things out, and then continuing once each hour until it’s finished.

Improving relationships: How about when the half hour or hour alarm vibrates, taking a moment to tell your child you love them, pay them a meaningful compliment, give them a hug, or even tell them a silly joke. If you're doing this over text for a child who’s in school, you could change it to a quick text every few hours to let them know you love them. You can even use a special silly emoji that only you two would understand so that your child won’t be embarrassed if their friends see it.

We often wait for a day where we can spend hours together to make a loving connection, and those days are often hard to come by. But connecting in small ways throughout every day will build a loving relationship, and when we do get those special longer stretches of time they will be all the sweeter because of the tiny connections we’ve made everyday.

Carving out these bite size times on a recurring schedule, and adjusting them when needed, has given me a real sense of the power of the intentional use of time. Even if I have a day that has me going constantly, I can usually get thirty seconds or a minute when my alarm vibrates to do something small toward my goal. That is time I probably wouldn’t get if I waited to have an hour or a day to get something accomplished. 

These tiny intervals aren’t meant to become a terrany, suddenly controlling every 30 seconds of your day. If your in the middle of something else that you shouldn’t interrupt when the reminder goes off, just set another alarm for a half hour later, or whatever time might work. It’s a reminder to make a small space to do something that you have decided to do for yourself, so you can stop waiting for your turn to take care of yourself. This is away to give yourself little gifts of self-care that add up through out everyday, not something that makes you a slave to a timer. If you try it and it doesn’t bring you joy or a sense of satisfaction, then don’t do it. Pray for a unique idea that would work for your life and personality. I’m just sharing an inspiration that has worked for me. 

So if you find yourself getting weary trying to keep up with the new things you want to do or changes you hoped to make this year, consider creatively breaking it down into tiny, repeated bites of time, be gentle with yourself and celebrate every small accomplishment. You may find those changes and resolutions actually happening this year!

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