MOMbassadors Interview: Mandy of Biblical Homemaking

It’s such a treat for me to share today’s MOMbassador with you because she’s not only a fellow blogger-mama, but she’s also my real life bestie, and we’ve known each other for a decade.

{Why do I feel old all of a sudden?}

mandymombassadors_thumb[2]  Mandy and I are very similar in some ways. We both teach fitness classes and absolutely loooooooove teaching BODYCOMBAT. So much so that we sometimes dress in matching outfits, then pose like this for pictures.

combat_thumb[21]

{Okay, so “posing” might be a little too elegant of a word for what we’re doing. I’m just glad I didn’t knock her over!}

We both love low-key girls’ nights out, even if it means getting our grocery-shop on…at Wal-Mart…at 10 PM.

mandy and me at walmart_thumb[2]

We’re also both avid thrifters…

mandy thrifting_thumb[2]

{Can you believe she scored this adorable Fossil bag at a Dallas Goodwill for only $10?}

And, of course, we both blog. Mandy recently redid her whole site (in all of her spare time…ahem), and it’s really pretty and user-friendly. You should definitely head on over and check it out!

mandy's site_thumb[2]

Of course, the most mind-boggling similarity of all is that we both have 5 children each. Their ages are: 10, 8 , 7 , 6, 6, 4, 3, 15 months (X 2), and 5 months. I would love to be able to show you a picture of THAT craziness, but it just occurred me to that I don’t think we have one. (Mandy, we need to remedy that).

But, even with all of our sameness, we are also very different. And one of my favorite things is learning from other women who are stumbling along this bumpy road of motherhood with me and to whom God has revealed different truths. It’s such a great way to be encouraged that you’re not alone AND find out ways to do things better.

But enough gabbing from me.

Let’s get to the good stuff.

Out of the possible matriarchal titles (Mother, Mom, Mommy etc.), which do you
prefer? Any particular reason?

Mommy, though we are definitely getting to be in the “mom” era these days. I’m holding on to Mommy with everything I’ve got until they absolutely refuse to say it. I may have 3 more years. If I’m lucky. :)
mandy kids bear_thumb[2]
What’s the number one thing you’ve done that you think has made you a better mother?

I know this is probably a common answer, but seeking after God has made the biggest impact in my relationship with my kids by far. The Holy Spirit has been so good to me- He gently reminds me when I’m off course {often!}. I still have so far to go and so often I’m tempted to focus on my own failures, but when I look back over the last 10 years, I can see how He was teaching me and refining me every year. I try to remember to keep my face forward and press on, not focusing on how terrible I was in the past with regret, but being thankful for the chance to be able to do better in the future. Sanctification in Christ is a long process {thankfully!}.

zane_thumb[2]

You have 5 kids, ranging from 10-years-old down to 5-months-old. What is the biggest challenge that you face when trying to coordinate and love on a large family with a variety of ages and needs?

When they were all little, life was hard but simple. It seems now like the older they get, the less physical work they require, and the more emotional engagement they need. I am still trying to find that balance, but one thing that I’m finding important in our larger family is spending one on one time with them individually every now and then. We are mostly together all day long, so it is a bit of a challenge to spend time connecting with the older ones. Elijah {10} and I just went on our first date this week, and I am excited to make that a regular occurrence! :)

mandy kids_thumb[2]

If you had one completely kid-free day, where would you go, and what would you do?

It feels like it’s been a while since I had one of those… :) If you would have asked me that 10 years ago, you can bet it would have involved either Six Flags, shopping, rock climbing, or tubing down the Guadalupe River in South Texas.

Now that I’ve spent the last decade having babies and being a mama, I would sleep in as late as I wanted, wake up slowly to stay on my couch with a cup of coffee and my Bible for a few hours, take a hot bath and read a book, and get ready at my leisure. Then I would go eat Tex-Mex with my husband, browse around the book store, come back home, put on my pj’s and watch a survival show or Call the Midwife. :) Can you say homebody? I really never thought it would happen to me. Apparently it strikes sometime after baby #5. :)

What’s your best piece of advice for mamas everywhere? (i.e. the one thing that helps you stay the sanest).

The first thing would be to take care of your spirit by soaking in the Word and in prayer every day. It is life giving, it prepares your heart for service, and I think it’s absolutely essential if we want to obey Jesus in this hard season of motherhood. He is so good, and He is our only source of strength! :) We just cannot do this well on our own.

The second would be to take care of your physical body. Seasons of being tired are sometimes unavoidable, but those are the seasons to re-prioritize the less important things so that you can get enough sleep. And if you aren’t eating well, your family will suffer too, so it’s important to fuel your body appropriately with the right foods at the right times. Mama being hangry is no good for the rest of the family!

I’ve entitled this series Mombassadors because I believe that we have the potential to be ambassadors for Jesus + examples of joy in a profession/calling that’s rife with opportunities for negativity if we let it be. But it takes a very conscious effort/choice on our parts. Because being a mama is hard! What kinds of things do you do to actively choose joy in motherhood?

Practically speaking, it has really helped me to identify the things that make me feel less than joyful as a mother and avoid them if I can. :) Scheduling lots of outside activities makes our life complicated, so as a group, we tend to stay home as much as we can these days. Just getting out the door with all of us decently dressed is tough with 5 kiddos! :)

Taking care of my spirit and physical body {like I talked about above} also plays such a big role in how I feel on a daily basis. When I don’t physically exercise my body, I’m way more prone to being depressed or even just more easily annoyed at silly things. I’ve also found that I need to get out of the house every now and then, so teaching fitness classes at the gym 3 hours a week has been a wonderful outlet for me. :)

mandy family_thumb[2]

As a fellow fitness instructor, I know you know how hard it can be to avoid being overly focused on our bodies, especially after we’ve had a baby (or five!). How do you cope with that?

God has been so good to me in this area in the last couple of years. I emotionally bowed down to the idol of the scale for over a decade and made myself {and everyone else} miserable when I didn’t see the numbers I wanted. I held tightly to that major idol in my life, until God smashed it.

I am so, so thankful that He has given me freedom from that silly number in a plastic box. Even not knowing what I weigh now {and not caring!} I still find myself focusing on my appearance and size all too often, but thankfully it is getting better! :) It is always especially difficult in the first few months after birth when my body is constantly changing and most of my clothing doesn’t fit the way it should. And honestly, on top of that, it’s even more challenging to be a fitness instructor and have five babies, because truly, all eyes are on you! ;)

Some days have been harder than others, and I complain when I shouldn’t {like that time we launched BODYPUMP in matching outfits a few weeks after I had Zane- oh, that hurt my pride a bit!}, but overall God has been so good to me to help me realize over this last pregnancy that gaining weight is a good thing. This is my healthy body making a big, healthy baby boy, and then feeding him for months just the way God made it to do. It’s a beautiful example of God’s provision for my baby when I can be pregnant and then feed a small human exclusively from my body! It’s so incredible if you think about it! He created us to do this, and it is good! :)

God has been so merciful to me to give me a new perspective on my body, and it’s really exciting to think that someday I will get to leave all of these selfish desires and my pride of life behind. I am so looking forward to that day! Won’t it be amazing to finally see ourselves as He sees us?

Quick! Don’t think too hard if you can avoid it. What are the first three “M” words that pop into your head that describe you as a mom?

hmmmmm…

miracle {ask the people I grew up with and they will tell you it is a miracle I had 5 kids in 10 years! God completely changed my heart from wanting none to hoping for a house full!!}
multitasker {possibly the anti-buzz word of 2014…but it’s true}
mother hen? {two words still count right? even if one has “mother” in it? I won’t admit how long this actually took me…hahah! let’s not play Scrabble anytime soon, okay? ;) }

…………………………………………………………………………………………………….

I think what I love most about reading all of this is being able to see Mandy’s perspective on how God has changed her heart as it relates to motherhood and look back and know that it’s true for her…and for me too. God is so good and faithful not to leave us wallowing in our messes if we’ll only pry our fingers off our death grips on them, even a little bit.

And now as a treat for you, Mandy has chosen 2 things to give away that represent her personality.

mandy giveaway  

Her favorite candle (she raves about it!), and an ESV Bible.

ALL YOU HAVE TO DO TO BE ENTERED TO WIN IS ANSWER THIS QUESTION IN THE COMMENTS:

What is one area (related to motherhood or just life in general) in which you have improved over the past decade? {It can be small or momentous. But I bet there’s something. 

And if you want, you can get extra entries by filling out the easy Rafflecopter form below!

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63 thoughts on “MOMbassadors Interview: Mandy of Biblical Homemaking

  1. I’ve learned to enjoy the process. After being married for 7 and 1/2 years, being a mom for 6 1/2 years and moving 3 times…it’s very easy to get agitated with the process of life. Waiting to get to a certain place or financial status to enjoy life, that’s what I felt I had to do. But last year, after the birth of my 3rd child, God gave me a peace that’s indescribable. I’m learning not to be so anxious…but to enjoy where we are as a family, find happiness in the small things, and make memories out of the seemingly little moments…I’m enjoying the process.

  2. I grew up with an angry mother, so I have to be careful every moment to not fall into the learned behavior with my own children and give them the best of me instead.

  3. Yelling. I grew up in a house of yelling so when I became a mom I did it too. I still catch myself yelling sometimes but not very often and I am sooooo thankful for that.

  4. Not to gossip. I have to work on it daily and think before I speak. I seem to be the designated friend to be told things some one does not want anyone else to know.

  5. Just loving myself more inside and out as Christ made me. I’ve struggled a lot with self love and self acceptance and I am blessed to say that I’ve gotten a handle on it over the years.

  6. God has definitely been working on my spirit of trust in recent years–after four miscarriages in a row, and no to be blessed with two beautiful and healthy little girls, He has broken down my lack of faith many times and lifted my eyes back Him. This is a work in progress, of course, but one that has significantly improved as I’ve been seeking His will and fixing my eyes on the cross! :)

  7. I think my reliance on the Lord and protecting my time with Him has improved. This has led to many many improvements from the Holy Spirit: growing as a mama and becoming more loving, selfless, patient, present; focusing more as a wife and being a better helper. It has helped me to live out of more grace for others as I receive His grace.

  8. One area that I have improved in that last decade is learning to let go. I still need a lot of help in this area and I ask God every day to help me just live in the moment and let go. I am learning to let go day by and live each day in the present. I’m getting better at trying not to create too many to do lists. That and my patience has greatly improved throughout the last decade too.

  9. I’ve become more patient since becoming a mother over 5 years ago. I try not to rush things, take time to enjoy my family, and to relax and not get so upset if things don’t work out the way that I had hoped.

  10. I have learned to put my family’s desires above my own ambitions. I was a selfish newly married businesswoman, working for the Florida Governor and climbing the corporate ladder. God got a hold of my heart and changed all of my dreams. Instead of neglecting my family and selfishly seeking after what I wanted, I desired to start a family and serve my husband in our home and be a helpmate to him in our ministry. God has given me more fulfillment in being a wife and mother to our 5-month old baby girl than I could have ever gotten out of a 24/7 demanding career in politics. God is so good!

  11. I find that I have improved in preparing ahead in all areas…ie. prepping clothes for the next day, organizing morning breakfast materials, homeschooling, buying gifts for birthdays and celebrations. I use to procrastinate in many areas but with 3 little children I need to remove anything that may be a stressor and being on the ball has helped tremendously.

  12. I don’t have any kiddos yet, but as a wife and soon to be mother I’ve learned a lot about just keeping our house as a place of rest for my husband and family. It is so nice to come home to a peaceful home!

  13. I have only been a momma for three years, and a wife for nearly four… (Can we say honeymoon baby?:) but my desire to figure out what life (with Jesus as my example) means, has grown considerably. Not just “how do I get through this temporary life comfortably and successfully?” But “why am I here and what can I do that will matter for the life to come, after this one?”

    I read a book about 5-6 years ago called “Discovering Your God Given Gifts” and took a big test, that really opened my eyes to who God made me to be… And that it is all for His glory, not mine :D

  14. I have learned to slow down and really enjoy my children. With my first (10 years old) I felt like we were in a whirlwind and always falling behind! But with my second I am more aware of how fast time goes and that I need to enjoy them as much as possible!

  15. I would say, I don’t expect as much from myself, if that makes sense:) I don’t expect to be the “perfect Mom” as long as I am doing the best I can! More relaxed definately, but in a good way..

  16. I would have to say that I am much more relaxed (though not enough) and more dependable. I would love to see more growth in both of these areas in the future, though! I love Mandy’s blog and I am so excited to discover yours as well!

  17. I have always wanted to be a mommy but I also wanted to have a career, the two seemed to butt heads way to often. God spoke to me tenderly and told me that my path, my career was to be a mommy. So after a lot of work and many prayers I traded in my suit for sweats, business meetings for playdates and makeup for spit up. It was so hard to give up my wants but the rewards God has blessed me with, oh my, still bring a tear to my eye.

  18. I am 30 and still all my mom, mommy! So there is hope. ;) . I have improved in the area of listening and teaching. When your kids are tiny you don’t think much about teaching because there are so many things they have to learn, teaching comes naturally. The older they get, the teaching goes to a different level and it has to become intentional. I am raising my kids to be adults one day, and that is the perspective that we teach them from. I love being a mom!

  19. I have learned over the years to let them have fun while helping me cook instead of being so anxious about it (and the mess). so much more fun and they usually eat whatever it is they help me cook! after all, a little soap and water (and the broom!) cleans most messes, right? Love you both, thanks for inspiring me to be a better, more Godly momma

  20. I have grown thankfully in the area of insecurity. I used to always wonder what other women were thinking of me- because let’s face it, we can be judge-y. But learning to accept the love of my savior, and then share that love with other women, has been huge for me in the last 2-3 years.

  21. I had to learn to give my children to God and trust in him. I live in fear ( as I believe every mother does) of loosing my children. I was in such fear of loosing them that I wouldn’t let them out of my sight except for with grandparents. My poor babies never were allowed to stay at friends swim without a lifevest, ride their bikes without parents, or do everything I did as a child. They are now 11 and 12 and I have such peace because I know how much my love for my babies is that my Heavenly Father loves them so much more then I can even comprehend. That beign said I still parent with common sense and don’t allow fear to control me. God has not given me a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind!

  22. I have learned to stop comparing myself to others. God began to work on my heart years ago and I received lots of healing and I began seeing myself as He sees me. I am in return teaching my daughter that God created her beautiful and she can be the best her she can be!

  23. I feel like my patience has increased by leaps and bounds from where it was pre-kids. Also, my selfishness has been extracted by kids slowly but surely (sometimes painfully) but I am so much better for it ;)

  24. I could write SO much on this topic – especially since my oldest just graduated high school and my youngest is 6 months old! I have had a lot of time to really see how my parental decisions really have affected my children both positively and negatively (boo!). But since the question is ONE thing…(man this is so hard to choose just one)…I am going to have to say really truly seeing how important I am and my actions are to my children. For so long, I never really felt like they were watching me, or listening to me. I mean, come on, how many times can I tell them to do something or NOT to do something and repeat it again in 5 mins, every 5 mins ALL DAY LONG! My faith has been a roller coaster most of my life, and it is something I always did in private and was never comfortable with doing with anyone else (yes, I know this sounds bad – there is a long history attached to that struggle). But, I now realize that my children never saw me make my spiritual journey, and never knew about it or about the different stages a relationship with the Lord go through. Combine that with the fact that I questioned whether they saw me/listened to me anyway, and it equated to total failure to lead them spiritually at all! So, I have made leaps and bounds of headway in making sure that my children see me love the Lord (and see me when I fail at it) and especially make time to listen and answer their questions about it, which are many as I failed them so horribly in that area. Okay…wrapping this up as it is getting long and not very well explained…
    This quote pretty much sums it up for me:
    “If you don’t teach your children who God is, the world will teach him who he isn’t.”
    I am learning…and teaching….and engaging them in a way I didn’t for the early years…that is my accomplishment – and it’s not even mine….

    1. In this life, I will probably never meet you but I want to say thank you for writing your comments and that I love you for doing so. One day in Eternity

  25. I know that perfection cannot be mine and really looked myself in the mirror and confessing that to myself so it would not be lipservice and the thing to say.

  26. I am learning to trust my teenagers. We have to believe the love and attention we gave them for all those years and the lessons they were taught will help them make good choices.

  27. My perspective has changed on mothering so much the last 10 years. The most important thing, that guides my life now, if putting God first and how that orders everything else.

    Love Mandy (from afar and from short connecting moments at The Declare Conference when it was Mamas Write, 2 years ago). I want her to know to not give up on her kids continuing to call her mommy. My teenagers still call me “momma” and their daddy “daddy.” We haven’t ever insisted on it they just still do and I LOVE it!

  28. I can honestly say that I finally feel like I’ve gotten into a groove with being in the Word every day. When I wake up, I grab some coffee, read the Bible and then journal about what I read. This is something that I LOVE doing and I used to not feel that way!

  29. Met Mandy at Allume in 2012 and she’s such a beautiful person, inside and out.
    I’ve made it a point to be be more present and less stressed out over irrelevant things. My kids will be out on their own one day, so for now, I don’t want to miss any opportunities of making memories with them.

  30. I have been a second grade teacher for 7 years and have a 3 year old. The Lord has been helping me have more grace and mercy toward little ones. He keeps convicting me to love and guide them like He does me :)

  31. I’ve learned to trust God with all areas of my life. Letting go of controlling every situation and allowing God to be in charge has been a freeing experience. And… things always work out better when we put them in His hands :)

  32. Well, I think I I have become more empathetic to those around me after becoming a mother. Motherhood has opened up a larger picture of love in this world, and understanding that everyone needs it.

  33. This one is easy … I’ve learned to let go of control in the area of schooling my kiddos. We choose public school (we are very blessed to live in thee most amazing school district with a Christian leader as the principal at our local elementary) for our now 3rd grader and 1/2 day Kindergartner however I was continuing to “home school” each afternoon and evening. It was taxing on the kids and took a toll on our relationship. They want more of me as a mom and not teacher. It’s been a give and take. I love schooling them!

  34. My selfishness. With 6 children 10 yrs and younger, both my in laws living under our roof as well as my own mom living with us…..The Lord is showing me how very selfish I am. He thankfully is growing me too….growing me to be more if a servant for Him! I am SO not there yet, but I thankful for the baby steps I can see.

  35. I would have to say without a doubt the one thing that I have improved on is letting go of control. It seemed having control before kids was easy to do. God certainly showed me who was really in control….and it wasn’t me! From having to wait nearly 3 years for a baby to getting prego the second time around about 6mths before I “planned” to…..yeah He has no problem showing me who is boss ;-)

  36. I’ve learned that the chores and the house will be here….my kids at this age will not! Yes, sometimes having four kids I think my head is about to explode, but then I try to remember I was given the gift of raising these kids for The Lord! Love your blog! Found my way via Mandy’s blog!

  37. I’ve leaned to let go of perfection. Or what I thought was perfection. Now I’m able to see beauty in all things, even the messes.

  38. Ive learned to let go and not to hold the outcome of my kids’ futures so tightly. They are His. Their futures are in His hands, not mine.

  39. Learning to stop rushing and watching the clock and opening that bible. I’m really grateful to Mandy, she doesn’t know me but I find a lot of inspiration and calmness from reading her blog.

  40. I have come to embrace being home and not overscheduling us. I’ve also embraced homemaking and having a servents heart, as I struggled (still struggle) with selfishness.

  41. I have done bible studies and had many praying for me and my patience and how I deal with poor attitudes is MUCH improved PTL! :)

  42. My selfishness – I never imagined my whole life would not be about me….but the day I delivered my premie twin girls, I has so thankful that perspective changed. God saved my life through that miracle.

  43. The Lord is slowly, but surely teaching me discipline in the words that I choose to speak to my children. He broke me over it, but now is putting me back together, better than before. God’s grace is definitely what gets me through these days of motherhood.

  44. I am so beyond grateful that I have been humbled over the last 10 years. My pride has gotten in the way of so many things, especially in knowing that my self-worth comes only from the Lord. I still have a long way to go, but I look at myself now knowing that it is only by God’s grace that I can treat anyone with kindness and compassion!

I love comments so much I'd actually consider making them my sixth kid if I could. Seriously. Love. And I read every single one and will do my darndest to respond, especially if you have a question. So, yeah. Comment away! I'm listening!