Tired Mama.

Tired Mama.

I am a tired mama. I know you mamas feel me. Remember when us millennial mamas would get unsolicited words from our elders telling us “how easy we have it”…you know the ones that would say, “in my day we didn’t have xyz”. Pandemic mamas. We’re no longer the lucky millennial mamas that get to have careers and families or iPads and a quiet meal at a restaurant. Nope. Across the globe we’ve been thrown into a hell fire of impossible tasks, and mental exhaustion from putting out fires.

Just when you think you couldn’t possibly experience any more burning flames…the backdraft begins. Make another impossible decision. Are you team “In-person School” or team “Remote Learning”. Whatever decision you make, you WILL feel the heat from the fire of the opposing team. Only this time, it’s millennial mama against each other. “Save the teachers and staff!” “Save the kid’s mental health!” Whatever you choose, you will be burned with guilt from the opposing team.

Mamas. Friends. Sisters. We must stop. I don’t know if it’s my 90s childhood of southern baptist-Texan-fashion WWJD bracelets, or what…but…I just can’t stop thinking about what would Jesus do and say. I know it wouldn’t be words that burned. Bob Goff wrote in his book Everybody Always, “burning down people’s opinions is arsonist”. Mamas, we cannot be arsonists. What are we teaching our children? What words and behaviors are we modeling for them? We cannot be arsonists.

Our elementary school principal emailed a procedure outline for this upcoming school year on what in-person and remote learning would look like. Within a few hours, our Facebook school group was flooded with opinions. One poster decided to ask the oh, so dangerous question of, “Curious to hear how people feel about the email Dr. Daniels (principal) emailed??“. My heart sunk. Was a fire about to ablaze? I’m tired, but I’m also filled with peace and joy from being in God’s daily presence (and secretly missing my WWJD stretchy bracelet). Filled with peace, I reluctantly wrote words with love in response, “I’m thankful for her communication to us! Speaking from a Hospital and Secondary Market Operation experience, Dr. Daniels has an enormous amount of operating procedures to write and implement, and we as WSES parents should offer her grace and support. No choice is perfect, we all have a hard decision to make and we need to be compassionate and supportive. Our kids are watching us, and we have a unique opportunity to model the behavior we want our children to learn and grow in.”

Mamas, we can’t control everything. Heck, 2020 has proven we hardly can control anything. We are, however, in control of our words…typed or spoken. “Words have power” is true. We have control on how we wield that power for either Grace or Fire. I tiredly rest in knowing and trusting that God is in control of all things. I tiredly sit in His presence being filled with JOY and pouring out joy, grace, and love to all. Even the arsonists. It’s not easy work, but it’s worth it.

Joy Isn’t Canceled This Summer

Joy Isn’t Canceled This Summer

Let’s be honest, social distancing sucks. If you’re like me and are diagnosed with any mental health illnesses then this season of social isolation can potentially worsen our illness.

I decided to get creative with social distancing gatherings because I refused to give up on trying to find healthy, safe, and law abiding ways to interact with my neighbors and friends.

Have you heard of drive by or drive thru parties? Well, if you literally just can’t take another virtual hangout then this is the route to go! Those blue balloons pictured above are from a drive-thru baby shower, and the hosts of this shower were just the cutest! They set up a drive-thru shower in their front yard with just a table with food (Bottled Drinks and individually wrapped custom cookies), and I provided the balloon garland. Simple, safe, and you get to see people as you drive past/stop by the house. I NEEDED this. I needed to see a person’s face in real life.

Since then, I’ve been to or hosted several drive-thru gatherings and they have brought me so much JOY! For July 4th, our neighborhood parade was canceled so I decided to create a balloon photo backdrop in my front yard and invited my neighbors to stop by to take a family photo at their leisure. I know it’s not much, but I refuse to let Covid-19 cancel our joy.

Friends, throw a drive-thru gathering. This Saturday, 25th, is Christmas in July and a great chance to safely see friends for a social distancing celebration. I’m sure it will bring you JOY!

Motherhood: Racial Reconciliation

Motherhood: Racial Reconciliation

Image by Danielle Coke @ohhappydani

Racial reconciliation has been on my mind for awhile now. Back in January, I sat down with 3 of my mama friends to discuss motherhood and race for a podcast episode. Motherhood is hard, and it’s our job to have hard conversations in order to know better and do better. Our kids are needing us to lean into this.

My friends and I:

Toni – a Filipino woman raised in Africa

Krisler – a black woman raised in multiple states in America

Sarah – a white woman raised in Texas

me – a first generation born American woman, half Mexican, half Arab

Together we discuss how racism affects our conversations with people of a different race, how racism impacts our parenting, and how can we be a part of the solution to end racism.

Image by Danielle Coke @ohhappydani

I don’t know if I will see the end of racism in my lifetime, but I do know if we don’t enter the space of befriending those that are different than us, or don’t start having in-person conversations about race, then things won’t change.

Our children are so observant, and are excellent at mimicking our behavior. What are we doing to actively be agents of racial reconciliation? Listen to our conversation on Season 2, Episode 2, and then join us as we learn to know better and do better. Be The Bridge Nonprofit is a great place to start for more resources.

Image by Danielle Coke @ohhappydani
Mothering Bust

Mothering Bust

I’m not an elementary teacher. I’m not equipped to homeschool. These days in quarantine have left me feeling like I’m failing this mothering thing. I had the brilliant idea last weekend to search through the attic for party supplies and carnival games. Throwing a party is my mothering talent, and thanks to volunteering this past year at the school as the PTA-Program and Events “person”, I can set up a party in under 30 minutes.

I wanted my kids to have fun and I wanted to feel like I was succeeding at something. Our favorite family vacation spot is Disneyland, so I grab all the attic things to turn our backyard into DIY Disneyland…or at least make it feel like we were actually getting to go somewhere fun for the day.

I handmade all the signs, set up the games, popped the popcorn, and created a special Disney drink. Then the moment to show the kids what I was up to came. I just knew they would be so excited.

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Missions: Go and Make Disciples

Missions: Go and Make Disciples

This just in: Missionaries do not spend 18 hours of their 24 hour day reading the Bible.

jokes from Season 2, Episode 1

Matthew 28:18-20 says this: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Season 2, Ep. 01.

Keri Campbell joins the show today to share her experience as a full-time missionary. When we sat down to record this episode in January 2020, Covid-19 wasn’t even on our minds. Now, we’re quarantined at home and I’m left wondering, how is Go + Make Disciples even applicable right now? I don’t have an answer for you, but I know God does. Now is a good time to develop a real relationship with the Lord. I encourage you to download and listen to this episode as you sit at God’s feet and wrestle with opinions, convictions, and doctrine.

The command to “go” doesn’t include, “go, unless there is a pandemic”. So now what do we do? That’s what I’ve been sitting and asking God these past 2 weeks, “God, what is it you want to tell me in this? What is it that You want me to do, now?”

Here’s a pretty tool to help you sit down with God and dig deeper.

Support our podcast by downloading each episode and writing a review. Subscribing and streaming is great, but downloads and reviews are the magical helpful things for others to find our podcast too. We appreciate your support!

To learn more about Keri Campbell and her families pursuit of full-time missions go to PrayforBerlin.org.

*Correction to podcast* I said on this episode Jesus was tempted and then ministered by angels. What I was trying to reference was Matthew chapter 4, where Jesus went into the wilderness and fasted for 40 days and nights (I said 3 on the audio, which is incorrect)

Love Thy Neighbor: the pursuit of giving + loving NOW

Love Thy Neighbor: the pursuit of giving + loving NOW

We all have heard the greatest command, “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt. 22:36-40). Bring on all the coffee cups, T-shirts, and hashtags of “be kind” or “do good”, but do we really practice this? The holidays have come and gone, and now we’re approaching the season of spring, and I wonder if we are still striving to give and love.

Are we even aware of opportunities to love our neighbors or community right where we are? I was walking the halls of my children’s school the other day and wondering if parents knew the volunteer needs at the school, and next found myself wondering what needs were weighing on the hearts of parents at this school. It’s easy to recognize the needs of others during the holidays thanks to Santas ringing bells and collecting change, or the hundreds of other non-profits sharing their needs, but what about the other 11 months out of the year?

What if I told you that loving your neighbor didn’t have to be a huge holiday production? Now, don’t get me wrong. Volunteering at your city’s homeless shelter, feeding the hungry a Thanksgiving meal, or even traveling across the world to dig water wells are all great things! They are needed. However, there are also needs right next-door to you, at work, or at school, now, in your community.

When Jesus says “love thy neighbor” it’s an action. It’s not just a feeling or heart posture of kindness and inclusion, but is also doing something.

So then, how do we love our neighbors? Step 1: you need to know them. You need to be ok with being weird, and be ok with being rejected. Go and be weird or awkward and introduce yourself to people you see on your street, at work, or at your child’s school. Just do it! Step 2: serve them=love them.

My neighbors on my street are some of the most amazing people in Texas and possibly America. They daily live out Steps 1 and 2. We all know each other. We are intentional to talk while seeing each other outside, having each other over for a meal, playdates with our kids, and block parties. Being known has given us the opportunity to be humble enough to share our stories and what is going on in our lives. For example, when I recently resigned from my job and started my own business I couldn’t afford traditional childcare, so a couple of my neighbors offered to pick up my kids from school if I ever needed help. There were several times these sweet moms saved my butt.

One of the biggest acts of service I experienced was from our sweet friends and neighbors that allowed us to live with them for 2 months while we were in-between homes. We shared our experience on the podcast on Season 1, Ep. 7 “Giving Community”, and I encourage you to give it a listen.

We recently made new friends at our children’s school this year, and they heard about our story of temporarily living with neighbors for 2 months. Guess what? They are going on an international mission trip to Africa and need someone to watch their daughter while they’re away, so they asked us to help. They said they felt less awkward to ask us, because they knew we understood what it was like to need help. That’s one of the best parts about loving others well and the action of giving. It has a ripple effect.

I’m sure you’ve heard or maybe even experience the “pay it forward” chain. Someone paid for your Starbucks order so you paid it forward. Again, this is a good thing, so don’t misunderstand me…I’m not knocking on this. I want you to think differently though. You are living next to, working with, or at school with someone who might need your help right now. Maybe it is a need for coffee (and all the moms of newborns said, amen), but maybe it’s something else. You’ll never know until you get to know them, and be humble enough to exchange stories.

The one thing I know for sure in parenting is this, our kids are watching. Those short people are listening to me when I talk to friends on the phone, or my anger problems while driving. They are watching me and learning. What if we taught our kids to be kind, to give back, and to love well by our daily actions of serving our neighbors now?

I want my kids to do more than just follow the golden rule. I want them to love God and others well. So, I’m determined to model this for them as frequently as possible and pray they copy and practice this as well. Hopefully, more than they copy my love for sarcasm.

IDEAS TO SERVE, GIVE, LOVE:

  1. Children’s outgrown clothes: give them to a neighbor (y’all, how many times does your kid outgrow something? Especially those soccer cleats you use for one season)
  2. Invite neighbors over for a meal (mine is always pizza, keep it simple, unless you’re a chef…you’re basically required to show off then)
  3. Carpool: (that carline is dangerous and stressful)
  4. Babysit: (childcare is like a second mortgage-babysitting is the gift that keeps on giving. Datenight babysitting or school days–all say LOVE)
  5. Cleaning a home: (do you love cleaning? I hate cooking so I offer my cleaning skills more frequently)
  6. Run Errands (my neighbor always shoots me a text when she’s going to Sam’s Club, “hey you need anything”)
  7. Wine Fairy (this was my favorite thing to do for awhile, I would drop off a bottle of wine on my neighbor’s porch just because…she’s a mom)
  8. Just ask, “How can I help you?”
Dear Stay-At-Home-Moms

Dear Stay-At-Home-Moms

Dear Stay-At-Home-Moms,

I’m sorry. I’m so sorry for hurting you. I owe you a giant apology for judging you, for being mean to you, and even for my thoughts.

I’m sorry for my pride. I thought, as a full-time-office-working-mom that I was more important, more achieved, and busier than you (SAHM). I wouldn’t have flat out said that to your face in those words at the time, but my thoughts and actions definitely played that out. For example, if I was driving to work and I would see a woman out walking her dog or running with her kid in the stroller I would think, “it must be nice to have so much free time and be able to spend your day doing whatever you want”. Or if my kid’s school would ask for parent volunteers or help I would think, “I better see all the SAHMs I know sign up first before I offer to help.” I’m sorry for being a prideful judging jerk. Will you forgive me?

I’m sorry for looking down on you. I’m sorry for my role in causing you to feel like “you’re just a mom” or when someone asks what you do for a living your response has been “I just stay home with my kids“. Man, I suck and I’m sorry for being a part of the problem and not the solution. Do you forgive me?

I want you to hear me, you are NOT “just” a mom. You do NOT “just” stay home with your kids. You are a working mom too. All moms work. I’m serious. I’m not blowing smoke up your ass. There is no scale measuring the amount of workload that each mother does or doesn’t do in a day, and I don’t know why we, yes myself included, are so obsessed with trying to measure one another. In the end there is NO trophy. No night at the Oscars for Motherhood, and there shouldn’t be. So why do we have to categorize one another and why do we shame ourselves for not measuring up to some invisible award?

You are a mother, like me, trying to raise a child or two and I want to support you not judge you. I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to understand that. Do you forgive me?

I wish I could say I’m this super cool mom that realized this on my own but I didn’t. Honestly, that’s a good thing because remember my pride from before. God kindly asked me one day, “why do you think your time is more precious than your SAHM friend’s time?”. Busted.

I want you to know that not only am I so sorry for my role and how I’ve hurt you, but that I also want to do better. How can I help you? How can I support you? Please don’t feel bad for asking for help whether it’s big or small. The saying it takes a village is true, and it’s a good thing motherhood is made up of different types of moms. It’s good that some work in the office, some at the home, some part-time, and some side-hustlers. We all bring something to the village to offer. We all have a unique gift to support. Are you up for giving this village-motherhood-support-thing a try?

Please forgive me, and join me!

-Viv (formerly wanting to be called “a working mom“)

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STORY: The Podcast

STORY: The Podcast

Always Working Mom Podcast exists to encourage and strengthen all mothers: Working moms, SAHMs, Mothers-to-be, Women that desire to be moms, and everyone in between, through gospel-centered resources.

-vivian knox, host of Always Working Mom Podcast

The idea behind the podcast has morphed several times now. Since the idea originated I’ve experienced multiple “ah-ha” moments that have helped shape the heart and spirit of our podcast’s mission.

First, during my life as a full-time office-working mom I experienced a couple of situations with coworkers, whom were moms, that strived for competition over support. These situations empowered the vision of a desire to encourage women to chose community over competition. You know, “empowered women empower women” and “women support women”. The idea was to focus on being a part of the solution, not the problem (or revenge, or self preservation or whatever feelings I was wrestling from being hurt).

Second, experience was God convicting me. My crime? Pride. It’s a subtle and deadly sin, and I hadn’t noticed it in my heart or actions, but it was there killing me. I thought, as a full-time office-working mom that I was more important, more achieved, and busier than a SAHM (stay at home mom). I wouldn’t have flat out said that in those words at the time, but my thoughts and actions definitely played that out. For example, if I was driving to work and I would see a woman out walking her dog or running with her kid in the stroller I would think, “it must be nice to have so much free time and be able to spend your day doing whatever you want”. Or if my kid’s school would ask for parent volunteers or help I would think, “I better see all the SAHMs I know sign up first before I offer to help.” God was super nice about gently convicting me. He kindly spoke to me, “why do you think your time is more precious than your SAHM friend’s time?”. If you’re familiar with the Bible, doesn’t that sound just like God [insert my nervous laughter here]? When Adam and Eve sinned, God didn’t lose his temper and yell chasing them with a wooden spoon for a spanking. Nope. (I’m thinking of his series of questions to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:9-13 and Jesus with the Woman at the well in John 4) This was the BIG “ah-ha” moment. All Moms are working moms. Instead of measuring who’s time is more precious, what would happen if we offered to support. Changing our posture from pride to service.

Lastly, when I started to interview different mothers for season 1 of the podcast I noticed that whether the mom was an office worker, side-hustler, part-time employee or even a SAHM we all struggled with guilt, and we all just wanted to be heard and understood. If we all want to be heard and validated, then wouldn’t it be good to strive to listen to one another? I wanted to share these women’s stories in hope of other mothers being willing to listen. Not for the purpose of agreeing or believing the same things as them, but to change their posture to humility and empathy. We must learn to listen better.

Now, we’re here working on Season 2 with a fresh mission. AWM Podcast exists to encourage and strengthen all mothers: Working moms, SAHMs, Mothers-to-be, Women that desire to be moms, and everyone in between, through gospel-centered resources. We want to encourage a posture of humility, to learn to listen to one another, to empathize. I want to listen to you, and I want others to listen too. I don’t have the power to validate you, but I can introduce you to the One that does. I’m learning to let go of my guilt and my fear of being judged for every thing I do or don’t do as a mother by resting in my identity in Christ. Because Jesus came, died, and rose from the dead for me, I am now God’s beloved daughter in whom He is well pleased with. (Matthew 3:17)

Will you join us? Will you humble yourself being willing to listen to one another in hopes of empathy? We want you! The saying “it takes a village” is true. You are needed in this community of mothers supporting mothers.

For more info on what I believe or our full mission, visit our About Me and Our Mission page. Share with your friends and family and lets grow our village of support.

Ep. 07 Giving Community

Ep. 07 Giving Community

The beginning of the book of Acts shows a beautiful picture of what the early church looked like. One heart. All pursuing God. No one went in need. We’ve been studying the book of Acts this fall in Women’s Bible study, and once again God whispered to me, “Don’t forget what I did for you, and don’t forget to be open handed and to listen, be willing to do this for others.”.

Three years ago our family of four lived with our friends, the Hoyts, a family of six for two months. God taught me so much during that season of life, and has continued to do so each year as I reflect on our time living under one roof. The time for “giving” isn’t just during the holiday season, it is year round. God used the Hoyts to show us this, and in turn we actively strive to live this way.

It’s difficult to compact all that God did in our hearts in under 60 minutes, but we did our best to summarize our time together on Episode 7, “Giving Community”, on today’s podcast. It’s the perfect way to wrap up season 1. I hope this episode inspires you to take pause during the chaos of the holidays and reflect on God. Stop to listen to His voice, and be encourage to obey him…sometimes He asks us to give by writing a check, volunteering, or bringing a meal to a family in need. Sometimes He asks us to open our home to our friend. Beauty is found in obedience. Can you see it?

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